Jesus promised the church would be free – not just from physical destruction, but also from spiritual defeat by the devil, he said.
Unity with the church and with the pope, he said, guarantees that “the local churches and bishops’ conferences have freedom in relation to local, national or international powers, which can, in some cases, block the church’s mission.”
But even more importantly, communion with the pope “is the guarantee of freedom in the sense of full adhesion to the truth, to the authentic tradition, so that the people of God are preserved from errors concerning faith and morals,” he said.
The pallium is the “yoke” Jesus spoke about; it does not weigh down the person carrying it, but supports him in his unity with the rest of the church, the pope said.
Giving and receiving the woolen band is “a gesture of communion” with the church whether it is threatened with “political interference or other harsh trials” or even “in the case of communities that suffer under the influence of misleading doctrines or ideological tendencies and practices contrary to the Gospel,” Pope Benedict said.
The New Testament speaks of the danger of divisions and misunderstandings within the Christian community, but also of “the dangers of the ‘last days,’ identifying them with negative attitudes that belong to the world and can contaminate the Christian community: selfishness, vanity, pride (and) attachment to money,” he said.
Still, he said, Jesus’ promise that the forces of evil would not prevail against the church guarantees that it will be free “both from the material bonds that seek to impede or constrain its mission, as well as from spiritual and moral evils that can attack its authenticity and credibility.”
Receiving the pallium with archbishops from around the world “shows the universality of our church, that the church is indeed Catholic because it encompasses the whole world. And it shows that after 2,000 years, we continue to carry on the great commission to bring the Gospel to all nations,” he said.