Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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Report from Rome: Bishop Skylstad among those invited to papal installation Mass
the Inland Register
(From the April 28, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
Bishop Skylstad left Spokane Friday morning, April 22, traveling to Rome for the installation Mass of Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, April 24.
In a press statement released that day, he said that “it is an honor to accept this invitation” to attend the Mass in his role as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The installation Mass will be a striking example of the universal nature of the Catholic Church. Representatives from around the globe will celebrate joyfully the beginning of Pope Benedict’s papacy.
He called the installation Mass “a historic moment” that demonstrated the Church’s “true unity in our true diversity.”
After the Sunday Mass, he sent diocesan and parish staff an update via e-mail.
“The ceremony of the installation of Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square was beautifully celebrated this morning,” wrote Bishop Skylstad. “The Mass began at 10 with the singing of the litany of the saints as the cardinals processed in. The day was perfect, weather-wise.”
The square was completely full, he said, with the crowd stretching down the main thoroughfare leading to the square, “all the way to the Tiber River.” Enormous TV screens, Jumbotrons, were placed around the square and down the thoroughfare, so that the huge crowds could see what was happening during the Mass.
The Gospel passage was sung, in Latin and again in Greek, “to show sensitivity to the Oriental rites,” said Bishop Skylstad. Pope Benedict already has indicated his strong desire to reach out to other faiths. Another indicator was the pallium he received, a special stole made of lamb’s wool.
“Some told me it was (a style) used in the Oriental rites,” said Bishop Skylstad. “Evidently he is making a special effort to reach out to that part of the Church…. (Pope) John Paul II referred to the Latin rite and the Oriental rites as the two lungs of the Church.”
At the Mass, Pope Benedict also received his papal ring, which will be destroyed when he dies.
Bishop Skylstad said that the crowds “responded enthusiastically” when Pope Benedict came out for the first time at the beginning of Mass.
The installation itself took place after the Gospel. Pope Benedict received three cardinals, a bishop, a deacon, a married couple, youth, and children, who represented the Church Universal, said Bishop Skylstad. As is often the case at papal Masses, the Prayers of the Faithful were given in several different languages.
“His homily was interspersed with applause,” said Bishop Skylstad, “especially so when he indicated that he needed everyone’s prayers during his pontificate…. Huge applause arose as he got into the popemobile and was driven through the crowds” at the end of Mass.
“I have just came back from a walk through the Square and down the Borgo, to the right of the Square as you face St. Peter Basilica,” wrote Bishop Skylstad. “All of the streets are closed down to traffic and the crowds were just milling about, relaxing. The gelato (ice cream) shops were doing a great business.
“The comment has been passing around that despite all of the crowds here in the city, the police have made no arrests,” he wrote. “I have found the crowds to be very reflective and calm.” The worst behavior he witnessed, he said, was an Italian mother disciplining a child who was throwing a temper tantrum.
“That’s it from the Eternal City,” he wrote. “Church business can get back to normal. The cardinals here are anxious to get back home. They have been here for three weeks. Archbishop Vlazny from Portland is also here. In the morning we plan to visit the tomb of John Paul II.
“Blessings and peace to all,” he concluded. “I will remember you and the diocese tomorrow when I spent some time in St. Peter Basilica. As always, please keep me in prayer, too. And also pray for the pope. I know he’ll appreciate it!”