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‘Open the doors’ of the Church, Pope Francis implores on solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

On the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Francis invited the Catholic faithful — including the recently appointed metropolitan archbishops who received their blessed pallium today — to “open the doors” of the Church and follow the example of the two great apostles of Rome so that all people can know and experience the love of God.

“The Jubilee will be a time of grace, during which we will open the holy door so that everyone may cross the threshold of that ‘living sanctuary’ who is Jesus,” the Holy Father preached during his homily at the papal Mass celebrated in Vatican City on June 29.

Reflecting on the Mass readings of the day, addressing thousands gathered within St. Peter’s Basilica amid scaffolded renovation projects in preparation for the upcoming 2025 Jubilee Year of Hope, Pope Francis emphasized the significance of “deliverance” and the grace of God in the lives of these two great evangelizers.

When St. Peter was freed from prison he “realizes that it is the Lord who opens the doors. He always goes before us. The doors of the prison opened by themselves by the power of God,” the pope said.

Following his dramatic conversion after encountering the risen Christ in Damascus, Pope Francis said St. Paul discovered the “grace of weakness” and ended his forceful persecution of the Church. The experience of Paul’s own weaknesses led him to lean on God’s strength when he preached the Gospel.

Pope Francis delivers his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

“Paul employs the image of ‘open doors’ in his journey to Antioch with Barnabas,” he said. “They gathered the Church together and declared all that God had done with them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”

During his homily, the Holy Father reminded the cardinals, archbishops, priests, religious men and women, and lay faithful present at Mass to “learn the wisdom of opening doors” and to not succumb to “a consoling, inward-looking religiosity.”

“Today some movements in the Church present us with a disillusioned spirituality,” he said. “On the contrary, the encounter with the Lord ignites in the life of all a burning zeal for evangelization.”

Following the celebration of the Mass, Pope Francis individually presented 33 of the 42 recently appointed metropolitan archbishops their pallium, a vestment made of lamb’s wool that symbolizes their authority and unity with the pope’s pastoral mission to evangelize and care for the people of God.

The metropolitan archbishops who were able to attend the papal Mass in Vatican City were seated next to the bronze station of St. Peter, also adorned in liturgical vestments this day, as a reminder of their own ministerial authority and responsibility of service to the Church.

A special Angelus

In spite of the 93-degree-Fahrenheit heat, thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to be present for the pope’s special Angelus address for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

“We see St. Peter depicted holding two large keys, as in the statue here in this square,” he said. “Those keys represent the ministry of authority that Jesus entrusted to him in the service of all the Church. Because authority is a service, and authority that is not service is dictatorship.”

He also encouraged his listeners to help everyone “find the way” to enter the house of God by cultivating virtues that would serve others, such as patience, constancy, and humility.

“The mission that Jesus entrusts to Peter is not that of barring the doors to the house, permitting entry only to a few select guests, but of helping everyone find the way to enter, in faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus. For everyone: Everyone, everyone, everyone can enter!”

Following his address, Pope Francis gave his special greetings to all the people of Rome, for whom today is a prominent holiday, but particularly expressed his closeness to those who are sick, elderly, alone, or in prison. He also asked for prayers for those who are wounded and suffering because of war. 

“I greet each one and invite everyone to have the experience of Peter and Paul — that the love of Christ that saves lives will push them to share this life with joy and gratuity,” he said.

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