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April 15: Seminaries growing

April 16: Bishops on 'ad limina' pray for courage to defend religious liberty

April 17: Mass with St. Paul

April 18: Truly universal Church

April 19: The Vatican and diplomacy

April 20: Bishop Cordileone on
Vatican Radio

April 20: Down
to the tombs

April 20: Mass at
St. John Lateran

April 21: Audience with Benedict XVI

April 22: An explanation

April 22: Migration, religious liberty
on US bishops'
Vatican agenda

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Just before the papal audience on April 21, from left, Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone and Vicar General, Father George Mockel, and Bishop Larry Silva of Hawaii, formerly a priest of the
Oakland diocese.
Courtesy photo

Audience with Benedict XVI

Father George Mockel

Today (April 21) we had our audience with the Holy Father and thus concluded our week of meetings, Masses and celebrations.

This has been a memorable week with many highlights but today was obviously THE highlight. The Holy Father greeted each of us individually and we exchanged a few words of greeting. He is obviously still very alert and sharp. I say this because when Bishop Cordileone introduced me and mentioned that I was the vicar general of the diocese, the Holy Father commented that I was "so young to be a vicar general!" I wonder if that might qualify as an infallible pronouncement?

Afterward I thought more about St. Peter — the first Pope. I thought about the same Peter, whose tomb I had visited earlier in the week and that I came today to affirm my unity in faith with the one entrusted with the Petrine ministry today, Benedict.

I thought about the Peter who sometimes made mistakes, but was still Peter the rock on whom the church is built.

As Bishop Patrick J. McGrath of San Jose said in his homily at the tomb of Peter, "There was a bond between Jesus and Peter, perhaps one that was forged, not in spite of his humanity, but because of it. After his resurrection Jesus gives Peter his great commission. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. From Peter's love for Jesus, Jesus asks him to feed, to lead, to guard and, yes, to love the sheep whom God has given him ... the ministry of Jesus is now Peter's ministry and that of his successors."

That simple fisherman, with all his doubts and failings, in the end, followed Christ's call even to death. In this we have a "well-founded hope" that there is hope for each of us. Despite our doubts and our failings Peter and his successors lead us in following Christ by loving and tending one another.

Tomorrow Bishop Cordileone and I will celebrate Mass one final time on this trip in St. Peter’s. We will pray for all who have asked us to pray for them and in this anniversary year for our diocese we will pray for all the faithful of our diocese and remember in a special way "those who have gone before us marked with the sigh of faith and our now at rest."

"May God who has begun the good work bring it to completion."

 
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