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New Melbourne and Sydney archbishops receive the pallium

Pope John Paul II presented Australia's two new archbishps with a sacred symbol of his office, at a special ceremony in Rome, on Friday evening.

Archbishop George Pell of Sydney and Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne received the pallium, which gives them the authority to rule their dioceses on behalf of the Pope, at a presentation in St Peter's Square.

The Australians were among 36 archbishops to receive the pallium. It was the second pallium for Dr Pell, the former Archbishop of Melbourne.

Zenit reports that the Pope urged all bishops to be prepared, if necessary, to face martyrdom. He said the Church needs bishops who feel "a longing to take the Good News of the love of God to every human being," and, "if necessary", are prepared to go all the way to martyrdom.

The pallium is a white woollen circular band worn around the upper body over vestments, and has been presented by the Pope to all archbishops since the sixth century.

Archbishop Hart said it was a "humbling experience" to receive the pallium before the leaders of the Catholic Church, and said he was looking forward to returning to Melbourne to take up his new position.

Sunday Age/Zenit