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Australian Bishops concelebrate Mass before St Peter's tomb

The Australian Catholic Bishops gathered in Rome for their ad limia visit yesterday concelebrated Mass before the tomb of St Peter, in the presence of a small congregation of Australians who live and work in Rome.

The mass is one of the most spiritually significant events of their ad limina pilgrimage. The tomb is located beneath St Peter's Basilica.

The principal celebrant was Conference President, Archbishop Francis Carroll of Canberra-Goulburn.

In his homily, Archbishop Carroll emphasised the need for Bishops and all the baptised to have both the heart and the faith of the Apostles Peter and Paul.

He was building on an image from Cardinal Sodano during the Pope's jubilee celebrations last year in which Pope John Paul II was described as having the Faith of Peter and the missionary Heart of the Paul.

"That set me thinking - do I have the faith of Peter and the heart of Paul? But I think I'd like more. I'd like to have the faith and heart of Peter and the faith and heart of Paul," Archbishop Carroll said.

He said Peter had a personal faith and a conviction in Jesus which is needed just as much today to continue building His Church.

"In this city, we look also to Paul - called dramatically to believe in Jesus Christ - new faith which changed the whole direction of his life. Paul's heart was also set on fire with love for Christ," Archbishop Carroll said.

Standing before the tomb of St Peter, Archbishop Carroll prayed "for the faith of Peter and the love of Peter".

"Then and only then can we be good shepherds. We will have the heart that draws the assurance of Jesus - feed my sheep," he said.

"There is a special message for us Bishops as Pastors with awesome responsibilities, but all Christians, all baptised, all disciples of Jesus must profess faith in Him - surrender our hearts in love to Him - all must be good and zealous shepherds to our sisters and brothers, to preach the Gospel and build up the reign of God."

Following the Mass, the bishops continued their ad limina program of visits to various Vatican entities, including the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Clergy, Caritas Internationalis and the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The 33 bishops are having audiences with Pope John Paul II, progressively in small groups. Yesterday the Holy Father received Archbishops Philip Wilson (Adelaide) and John Bathersby (Brisbane), as well as Bishops Ted Collins (Darwin), Eugene Hurley (Port Pirie), and James Foley (Cairns).

Bishops and all Christians need the heart and faith of the Apostles - Archbishop (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 16/3/04)
Audiences (Vatican Information Service 16/3/04)

Australian Bishops Begin Visit to Rome (Zenit 15/3/04)
John Paul II Sees Hope for Church in Netherlands (Zenit 15/3/04)
Bishops gather for spiritual pilgrimage (Southern Cross Mar 04)
Pope raises refugee question with Hobart archbishop (CathNews 16/3/04)
Audiences (Vatican Information Service 15/3/04)
Ad limina visit underway with Italian TV appearance (CathNews 16/3/04)
Australian bishops set for ad limina visit to Rome (CathNews 8/3/04)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Tomb of St Peter (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Subterranean Mystery Tour/Tomb of St Peter (National Catholic Reporter 27/10/00)

17 Mar 2004