St. Peter should be the model for all bishops because he allowed God to use his strengths and weaknesses, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans has said.
“My brothers, as we come to this tomb, as we have the privilege to stand before the remains of Peter, this great man, we certainly pray for ourselves as shepherds of the Church, that we can have the mind and heart of Christ to follow the example of Peter,” he said in his Jan. 23 homily.
The Mass in the Crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica marked the start of an official visit to the Vatican by the bishops of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Archbishop Aymond focused his reflections on the Gospel passage in which St. Peter declares Jesus is “the Christ.”
He said the passage displays the apostle’s “profession of faith, his leap of faith, the courage, the boldness to step out into the deep and to say ‘You are indeed the messiah, you are the one who was promised.’”
But Archbishop Aymond also contrasted the strengths of St. Peter’s character with other times in his life when he failed to follow Jesus, even to the point of betraying him.
“It is important for all of us in ministry, in particularly for those of us in the episcopal ministry, that we look at the entire profile of Peter’s personality – his gifts as well as his weaknesses,” Archbishop Aymond told his fellow bishops.
“Peter’s weakness do not minimize his holiness ... because we see that Jesus uses both Peter’s strength as well as his weaknesses,” he observed.
Through this experience, the archbishop explained, St. Peter “learns humility and learns obedience,” giving an example for all bishops.
Archbishop Aymond is making the “ad limina” visit to Rome with 21 other bishops between Jan. 23 and 31.
The trips take place every five years and involve a meeting in which the bishops brief the Pope on the Church in their individual dioceses, visit with various Vatican departments, and make a pilgrimage to the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The group is the fifth delegation of U.S. bishops to make their way to Rome in recent months, leaving 10 more groups on the American roster.
After this morning’s Mass, the bishops met with officials at the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Clergy. Six of the bishops also had an audience with Pope Benedict.
In the evening they attended at reception at the United States Embassy to the Holy See, hosted by Ambassador Miguel H. Diaz.