home : papalvisit : papalvisit April 16, 2014

3/12/2008 7:23:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
Like St. Peter, Pope Benedict 'brings Christ to us,' archbishop says

Special to the Standard

For 20 centuries, from St. Peter to the present-day pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, the role of the Holy Father has remained unchanged: "To bear witness to Jesus risen from the dead and to feed His sheep."

Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl made that point in a March 9 talk on "The Role of Peter in the Church Today," that was co-sponsored by the archdiocese and the John Carroll Society, to help local Catholics prepare for the upcoming papal visit.

"The pope is chosen to walk in the footsteps of Peter," Archbishop Wuerl told more than 350 people gathered March 9 at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda. "That's gone on for 2,000 years. The pope is the universal pastor, the vicar of Christ who presides over the whole Church...He is the perpetual, visible sign of the unity of the Church."

Archbishop Wuerl said Pope Benedict XVI, as shepherd of the universal Church and successor of Peter, "brings Christ to us and a direct connectedness to the Apostles.

He said the Church, which is the "true heir to the Gospel message," is entrusted to the care of the pope and the bishops, who are successors of the Apostles. "Apostolic succession and tradition authenticates everything you and I believe," he said.

Interpretation of the Gospels and Scripture is one of the most important reasons that tradition exists, he said.

"The meaning is passed on," he said. "When Jesus took the bread and said, 'This is my body,' we recognize those words as Jesus intended, that this is truly sacramental, His true presence. Apostolic tradition exists to place confidence and trust in those words."

Archbishop Wuerl said Christ "didn't leave us orphans on our own," but rather sent the Holy Spirit who gave His gifts to the Apostles and sustains the Church today.

The archbishop said that when the Church speaks on issues of the day, such as embryonic stem cell research, she is "speaking out of 2,000 years of tradition guided by the Holy Spirit."

Following the talk, Archbishop Wuerl answered questions regarding Pope Benedict XVI's first papal visit to the United States in April.

The archbishop expressed regret that tickets are not available to everybody who wishes to see the pope at the Nationals Park Mass. However, he said he hoped people would turn out to see him along routes in Washington, D.C., when Pope Benedict travels to different venues in the popemobile.

He encouraged the faithful to help young people better understand who the Holy Father is and to pray for Pope Benedict XVI.

During the pope's historic visit, "We know our faith will be renewed and confirmed, because that's his role, and that's what he means to all of us," Archbishop Wuerl said.

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