2012-06-28 Vatican RadioMetropolitan Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Benedict Coleridge is among the two Australians to receive the pallium from the Pope on Friday 29th June, Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.
Veronica Scarisbrick invited him to Vatican Radio's studios to comment on this special day. Beginning by asking him why he hadn't received it already as former Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn.
It seems that the reason pertains to the fact that this particular See is immediately subject to the Holy See, in other words it's not Metropolitan.
Knowing Archbishop Coleridge is a biblical scholar, Veronica Scarisbrick thought he could better explain how the pallium takes us back to the core of the mystery that he's supposed to minister as a Bishop: "..here I put on my hat as a biblical scholar: something happened that is deeply mysterious between Peter and Jesus at 'Cesarea Philippi', the Gospels record it and the Church has never forgotten it. Jesus in some sense entrusted the Church to Peter : 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church".
What those words mean has been much debated through the centuries...but in some sense history verifies the promise of Jesus that the rock of Peter's faith has in fact kept the Church steady and firm through the most massive shifts of culture and the tumults of history"...
And as one who worked in the Vatican for many years prior to becoming bishop , Archbishop Coleridge comments how the closer up you get to the Petrine ministry from day to day, the more mysterious it becomes: "Something fateful happened between Jesus and Peter at 'Cesarea Philippi' that conferred upon Peter a particular kind of authority that noone in the Early Church disputed. Certainly not Paul.
Paul fought with Peter but he never ever disputed the unique authority that Peter bore. Nor did he dispute the fact that Peter had received this authority from Christ himself.
And the extraordinary thing is that the commissioning of Peter is confirmed beyond his own failures...In the midst of human frailty and this is important for every Bishop, Jesus keeps saying feed my sheep, feed my lambs to Peter but He says that also to me as Bishop.
And that's what the pallium means: that I as the Archbishop of Brisbane am profoundly in communion with the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome and that really unless that is true then my ministry is an empty shell...."
But as the Archbishop is keen to point out, it's also about the See of Brisbane. The Archdiocese of Brisbane is profoundly in communion with the See of Peter and this is a communion that only the encounter with the Risen Christ can bring about.
In this interview Archbishop Coleridge also highlights how when the Pope does something very simple by putting a woollen band made of lamb's wool around his neck the symbolism is profound.
It speaks of the communion which only Jesus can bring about and that the prime guardian of that communion is the Bishop of Rome , the Successor of Peter. Consequently, communion as Archbishop together with Brisbane with the See of Peter in Rome, is absolutely fundamental.