The tradition of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome is that on this date the Pope confers the pallium on metropolitan archbishops appointed over the past year. The pallium symbolizes the archbishops’ unity with the Holy Father.
Several American archbishops were among those to receive palliums (pallia?), including Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of Houston, which is especially momentous since he is the first archbishop of the archdiocese since it was elevated that dignity earlier this year. Others included Archbishops Jose Gomez of San Antonio, Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, and Joseph Naumann of Kansas City.
That’s all well and good, until you read in this article, Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s comments on the Americans receiving the honor:
“They include two former presidents of our U.S. bishops’ conference, and that’s saying something about (the pope’s) confidence in the conference leadership in a beautiful way,” McCarrick said, referring to Gregory and Fiorenza.
It says nothing about Pope Benedict’s confidence in Gregory and Fiorenza. Both of them were made archbishops before Benedict was elected Pope and it is de rigeur that archbishops receive palliums. That’s what’s done and for McCarrick to try to gin it up as some vote of confidence in the bishops’ conference, especially given what Pope Benedict has said in the past about episcopal conferences, is a bit of happy talk and Potomac spin.