Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Attending the Pallium Mass in Rome

Hello and welcome,

We were all very saddened this week to learn about the tragic deaths of three faithful parishioners of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Newton.  I’d like to share with you the statement I released when we heard the distressing news:

As priests, we serve to minister to people in times of great loss and tragedy.  Often words are not enough to help families and friends come to terms with the loss of a loved one.  We look to God for answers. We seek to understand.  Often, we simply cannot make sense of what has happened.  But our faith sustains us, and in this moment of enormous pain, we know that God is with us always.   

This week and for the weeks, months, and years ahead, the brutal and senseless murders of Gilda D’Amore, her husband, Bruno D’Amore, and Gilda’s mother, Lucia Arpino, will stay with us as we come to terms with this unimaginable loss. They loved Christ and the Church.  On the day of their murders, Gilda and Bruno were to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary at Our Lady Help of Christians.  They lived their Catholic faith proudly and in service to the Church.

I am currently in Rome and will offer Mass for Gilda, Bruno, and Lucia at St. Peter’s Basilica. In our prayers, we will also remember the parishioners of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish and their sister parish Sacred Heart, their pastor Father Dan Riley, the parish staff and the entire community of Newton. We give thanks for the parish community of Our Lady Help of Christians and the surrounding Catholic communities coming together to support and care for each other.  With God’s help, we will remember the gift of the lives of Gilda, Bruno and Lucia.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

As my statement says, I have been in Rome this week for meetings of the C-9 Council of Cardinals.  But, before I left, I met with Bishop Francis Kalabat and Deacon Sermed Ashkouri of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle on Friday morning.

On Friday night, we had a gala dinner for the Hispanic community at the cathedral.

The dinner had a Love Boat theme, and all the volunteers worked very hard decorating Cheverus Hall.

And in case you didn’t recognize him, that is Father Nicanor in the center with the sunglasses and the captain’s hat!

It was a great event and a wonderful opportunity for people to get together for a fun parish celebration.

The Council of Cardinals met with the Holy Father on Monday and Tuesday.   We discussed how the spirit of Praedecate Evangelicum can be reflected both at the level of national bishops’ conferences and in the diocesan curias.  Cardinal Mario Grech also gave us an update on the preparations for the upcoming assembly of the Synod on Synodality.

I was asked to give an update on the recent plenary session of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.  I highlighted the commission’s work to help improve regulations and practices in dioceses to ensure their child protection mechanisms are as effective as possible.

While I was in Rome, I was very happy to see a number of people from Boston, including Matt Schweitzer, who used to work with us at the Pastoral Center and is now at Boston College.

It was also good to see Sean Albertson and his family.  Sean is the department chair in Classics at St. Sebastian’s.

Monday night, I had dinner with Father Wellington Oliveira, the pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Revere. He just earned his degree in canon law and is in Rome with a group of new canon lawyers for a “study visit,” where they visit the different dicasteries and spend some time at the Holy See Tribunals, especially the Roman Rota.

He was going to attend the Wednesday Audience, and I’m happy to see he got to greet the Holy Father there.

And, on Thursday, I had dinner with Father Antonio Nardoianni, who was formerly at St. Leonard’s Church in the North End and is now stationed in Rome.

Thursday was the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and, of course, it is at the Mass for this feast that the palliums are blessed and distributed to the new archbishops from around the world.

Among those who received the pallium this year was the Archbishop George Thomas of the new Archdiocese of Las Vegas and the Archbishop Frank Leo of Toronto.

For the Feast of St. Peter, they adorn the statue of St. Peter with a tiara and red cope.
I very much like this beautiful mosaic of St. Peter.
The deacons preparing for the Pallium Mass standing in front of the Pieta.
I always like this bas-relief of Pope Leo the Great turning back Attila the Hun, who is preparing to sack Rome.

I also very much like the statue of Christ giving the keys to Peter that they put in front of the confessio.  Underneath, you see the upside-down cross because St. Peter was crucified upside-down.

Beneath this statue is the Tomb of St. Peter, where the palliums are kept before the Mass.

My pallium is on the left

I think many people have seen an archbishop wearing the pallium but not understood its significance.  They are made by cloistered nuns from the wool of lambs shorn on the Feast of St. Agnes.  The black panel on the front represents the hoof of the lamb.

It is a very important symbol that represents the shepherd carrying the sheep on his shoulders and is a sign of the archbishop’s authority and its relationship to the primacy of St. Peter and the Holy Father.

And speaking of archbishops, this seems the appropriate place to congratulate Archbishop Christopher Coyne, who was named this week as the coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford and will receive the pallium at this Mass a year from now.

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Burlington, Vt., is pictured in an undated photo. On June 26, 2023, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Coyne as coadjutor archbishop of Hartford, Conn. (CNS photo/Vermont Catholic magazine)

Following is the statement I issued on Monday when the news was announced:

The news this morning that the Holy Father has appointed Bishop Christopher J. Coyne as Coadjutor Archbishop for the Archdiocese of Hartford is a great blessing for the faithful and all served by the Hartford Archdiocese.  I join with the entire Archdiocese of Boston to offer our congratulations to Bishop Coyne on receiving this wonderful news.

A priest for thirty-seven years, Bishop Coyne was ordained a bishop in 2011.  Throughout his priesthood and episcopacy, he has ministered with the heart of a pastor.  He exemplifies exactly what the Holy Father wants from his bishops, which is to be near their flock.  He is a skilled communicator and gifted liturgist who understands the need to meet people where they are with an open and compassionate heart.

Bishop Coyne will work very well with Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, S.T.D., assisting him in leading the Archdiocese of Hartford.  He will be a superb successor as the sixth Archbishop of Hartford.  During this period of transition, we offer our prayers in gratitude for Archbishop Blair, for his leadership and for his contributions throughout the years providing for the pastoral care of the Archdiocese.

Born, raised and ordained a priest in Massachusetts, Bishop Coyne will always be close with the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston and the people of the Diocese of Burlington, where he has served as bishop with distinction since 2014. 

We offer our prayers, support, and best wishes to Bishop Coyne as he undertakes this new assignment on behalf of the people of God.

In addition to being the date of the pallium Mass, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is a holiday in Rome.  There are many wonderful Roman traditions for marking it, one of which is the decoration of the streets with these carpets created from flowers and colored sawdust.  It’s quite a beautiful sight.

I always say that I like to be in Rome for my birthday because they celebrate it with fireworks and putting those beautiful carpets down!

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán