August 4, 2017

Archbishop Thompson calls faithful during installation to be ‘bridges of unity’

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson smiles and waves to members of the congregation as he processes on July 28 into SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis at the start of the Mass in which he was installed as the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis. Behind him is Father Patrick Beidelman, rector of the cathedral, who served as a master of ceremonies for the liturgy. (Photo by Rob Banayote)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson smiles and waves to members of the congregation as he processes on July 28 into SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis at the start of the Mass in which he was installed as the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis. Behind him is Father Patrick Beidelman, rector of the cathedral, who served as a master of ceremonies for the liturgy. (Photo by Rob Banayote)

By Sean Gallagher

July 28 was a day of joy for Catholics across central and southern Indiana as Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was installed as the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis during a festive Mass celebrated in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

But ties of the archdiocese to the broader Church and world during the installation of 56-year-old Archbishop Thompson—currently the youngest archbishop in the United States—were unmistakable.

A French archbishop who serves as Pope Francis’ representative in the United States presided over the start of the liturgy.

Leaders of diverse Christian traditions and other faith communities in central and southern Indiana, as well as civic leaders, greeted Archbishop Thompson during the Mass.

And participating in it were scores of clergy and other faithful from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., and the Diocese of Evansville, Ind., two local Churches that Archbishop Thompson has called home. These included many of Archbishop Thompson’s family and friends.

(Related coverage: Video | Photos | Homily)

This outreach to include more people in an ever widening circle of faith, hope and love was reflected in Archbishop Thompson’s homily in which he explored what he called the “Catholic both/and” as a “conviction” that contributes to his vision of his pastoral leadership of the Church in central and southern Indiana.

“Far too often, we are being confronted with an either/or mentality,” Archbishop Thompson said. “We must dare to counter the growing polarization, division and radical individualism that breed fear, distrust, hatred, indifference, prejudice, selfishness, despair, violence and radical ideology.

“Our role as people of faith—I especially hold myself accountable as bishop—is to be willing to stand in the breach of the divide, drawing people back from the ledges of extremism in self-indulgence and self-righteousness by serving as bridges of unity, ambassadors of hope and instruments of peace.”

At the beginning of the installation Mass, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, quoting Pope Francis, encouraged Archbishop Thompson to reach out broadly to people in need through his leadership of the archdiocese.

“As you minister to the priests, clergy and laity being entrusted to your pastoral care and reach out to the community beyond, especially the poor and marginalized, may you keep ever in your heart the sentiments you yourself heard expressed by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, during his homily on the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul,” said Archbishop Pierre. “ ‘The Lord answers our prayers. He is faithful to the love we have professed for him and he stands beside us at times of trial. … ’ ”

Archbishop Pierre also read from a letter of Pope Francis in which the pontiff appointed Archbishop Thompson to lead the Church in central and southern Indiana.

“ ‘ … We implore for you the choicest gifts of the Paraclete Spirit so that, aided by them, and with the prayerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you can so nurture the faithful entrusted to you that what you preach with your words, you may be able to confirm by your deeds and especially by the witness of your life.’ ”

After the letter from the pope was ritually shown to the congregation, Archbishop Thompson expressed his acceptance of the pope’s appointment. Archbishop Pierre then placed on Archbishop Thompson’s shoulders a pallium blessed by the pope. A pallium is a woolen band that symbolizes an archbishop’s pastoral care of his faithful and his communion with the pope.

The nuncio then walked with Archbishop Thompson to the cathedra, the seat in the cathedral reserved for the archbishop alone which, from the earliest days of the Church, has symbolized a bishop’s duty as the principal teacher of the faith in his diocese.

Archbishop Thompson then sat in the cathedra and was given the pastoral staff, traditionally known as a crosier, that the priests of the archdiocese had given to him along with a pectoral cross and episcopal ring the evening before during a Solemn Evening Prayer liturgy in the cathedral.

The moment, which was the culmination of the installation of the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis, was met with extended applause from the congregation.

Archbishop Thompson then greeted a diverse group of members of the faithful of the Church in central and southern Indiana representing priests, deacons, men and women religious, married couples, youths, young adults, people with special needs, Catholic schools, catechesis and the intercultural community.

Steven and Pauline Lancaster, members of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and represented married couples in the archdiocese.

“It’s very humbling,” said Pauline. “We were surprised when we were asked, but very excited and honored that we would get to do this.”

She added that a married couple greeting the archbishop during his installation was a sign of their mutual support for each other, and a way for “young people just starting out to see that there is such a thing as a long-term commitment and that people are truly happy being together for that length of time.”

Archbishop Thompson also met a group of leaders of Christian communities and other faith traditions in central and southern Indiana.

Rev. Dr. Timothy James, associate general minister of the Indianapolis-based Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), said he looks forward to working with Archbishop Thompson to bring greater unity among Christians.

“As the archbishop preached about both/ and as opposed to either/or, I sensed a unity that we all carry the same burden, the burden of Christ to care for the least and the last,” James said. “I see a burden for all of us. When we work together, it can be accomplished.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joseph Hogsett, who, along with Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court Loretta Rush, greeted Archbishop Thompson, also wants to add his efforts to working with the archbishop for the common good of all people.

“Building up the relationship so that we together, as a community, can move forward as one city is part of my job,” Hogsett said.

Archbishop Thompson described in his homily a broad, person-centered panorama for this work.

“Amid structures, policies and programs, we must not lose sight of the person,” he said. “Nothing of humanity and creation must escape our focus, engagement and outreach.”

Archbishop Thompson also reminded his listeners that one person in particular spurs this work and is its goal.

“Our task is not so much to resolve the world’s problems as to lead persons and peoples to personal encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world,” he said. “We ourselves must first, however, if we are to be credible and effective, be engaged in such a personal encounter with him.”

Finding strength for the Church’s diverse ministries through prayer, Archbishop Thompson said, allows the faithful to see Christ in all they serve.

“We must leave no one behind, especially being attentive to the unborn, the poor, the young, the elderly, the migrant, the immigrant, the refugee, the sick, the dying, the addicted, the abused, the disenfranchised, the lonely, the hopeless, the imprisoned and all who suffer,” he said. “We must be concerned about the well-being of each and every person as well as creation itself if we are to be truly Christ-centered.

“What we do or fail to do for the least of his brothers and sisters, our brothers and sisters, we do or fail to do for Jesus Christ. It is simple, I’m the first to admit it, but it’s a place to start—the Catholic both/and.”

(For more coverage of the installation of Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, including videos and photo galleries, visit

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