Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In my capacity as Apostolic Administrator of the Prelature of Trondheim, it is my duty and privilege to welcome you all: parishioners, friends and guests at the beginning of the mass, and thank you for your participation, prayers and encouragement. I welcome you to the fifth Catholic Cathedral in this city. Not that we have five. Number one is gone a long time ago; three and four in recent time. Number two is on the other side of the street. If you find it more attractive than this one, you may be forgiven. If you want to be tactful you may suggest that they complement each other.
The first word of thanks, I speak to His Holiness, Pope Francis. You, Cardinal, are his Legate, and at his command, you will be consecrating this Church, built for the faithful in and pilgrims to this venerable city. On their behalf and my own, I humbly ask you to express our gratitude to His Holiness and assure him of our prayers and loyalty.
We have a fine tradition of English Papal Legates. First in 1152-3, Cardinal Nicholas Breakspare, later pope Adrian IV, came to this city to establish the Metropolitan See of Nidaros, as the Mayor pointed out last night. This northernmost Province of the Church is well represented at this mass, if you permit a few anachronisms, by the Bishop of Reykjavik, the Bishop of Aberdeen, the Bishop of Copenhagen, the Vicar General of Stockholm, the Bishop of Tromsø, the Bishop of Oslo. The whole or parts of their territory belonged to the Province.
On his way north, the Cardinal founded the Cathedral School in Oslo and the Diocese of Hamar. Seen in this perspective it is a pity you will be leaving us tomorrow. Second, Your Eminence’s predecessor as Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Bernard Griffin came as a Legate of Pius XII in 1953. On behalf of His Holiness he gave Trondheim a Catholic bishop again, and made Oslo a Diocese in its own right.
Celebrating with us this afternoon, is our kind friend, H.E. Archbishop Henryk Jozef Nowacki, the Apostolic Nuncio to Norway. Archbishop emeritus Jozef Kowalczyk of Gniezno and senior Primate of Poland, and the auxiliary bishop of Tarnow, Wieslaw Lechowicz. In Trondheim, they will find a strong and vibrant community of Polish Catholics. Supported by their priests they are a blessing to the Church in Norway, and their faithfulness to Christ is outstanding.
The presence of the County Governor, Fylkesmannen, Mrs. Brit Skjelbred, representing His Majesty, King Harald, is a great honour. We have every reason to express our thanks to the Mayor, Mrs. Rita Ottervik, and the City of Trondheim. We have always been received with kindness and understanding by the Mayor and the local authorities.
Many of our friends in the Church of Norway are celebrating with us this morning: the presiding Bishop, Helga Byfuglien, the Bishop of Møre, Ingeborg Midttømme; the Dean of Trondheim, Ragnhild Jepsen, to mention a few. I am happy to thank Asher Serussi from our elder brother, the Synagogue in Trondheim for celebrating with us, likewise our dear friends from the Russian Orthodox, Baptist and Methodist communities as well as the Salvation Army.
The Catholic Church in Germany has given us bishops, priests and religious these last 160 years. A high number of German Catholics are very supportive and generous towards us. The participation this afternoon of the President of the Bonifatiuswerk der deutschen Katholiken, Mr. Heinz Paus and Mrs. Paus, the honorary President, Baron von und zu Brenken and Baroness v/z Brenken, the Secretary General, Georg Austen, and a number of our German benefactors is extremely important to us. Without your help, this Church and presbytery would have remained a dream.
I also thank the German and Swiss Ansgar-Werke. Here present are Mgr. Gunter Assenmacher, representing the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Mgr. Ansgar Lüttel, representing the Archbishop of Hamburg and the Bishop of Osnabrück and Dr. Brian McNeil from the Bavarian Ansgar-Werk.
Verehrte Gaste aus Deutschland' schauen Sie nach unten! Darfich Sie darauf aufmerksam machen, dass Sie buchstablich auf deutschem Steinboden stehen?
I am pleased to welcome representatives of the Archbishop of Rennes in Brittany. They have brought a confessional!
Many of you present from the parish and elsewhere have contributed with useful and beautiful gifts, from church bells and pews to candlesticks and altar; many of you have given money; many of you have given generously of your time and skills. I thank God for you. I thank your pastors for their endurance and courage throughout these demanding and, at times, chaotic years.
I would like to express a heartfelt word of thanks to Mr. Steinar Bjerkestrand of the Restauration and Maintenance Department of Nidaros Cathedral. They have presented us with a handsome piece of carved stone from their church.
The building of a Cathedral is a complicated matter, I can tell you. It is impossible if you have no vision of it. Our architects, Nils Henrik Eggen and Jørn Morten Breidablikk, were chosen for their vision, and they shared it with us. I need not speak many words of thanks; you know how happy I am today. More important, they will all thank you.
We had an organ of ten stops in the previous church. Our old friend, Øyvind Kåre Pettersen, suggested that Espen Selbaek took care of it. What happened? Mr. Selbaek has now presented us with an organ of 24 stops, although it will take a few more days for them all to work. We are pleased with the functioning ones, and looking forward soon to listen to it in its completed splendour.
Dear brothers and sisters of this parish and “stift”, brother priests, religious, pilgrims: I will not thank you; I congratulate you.
You have deserved this Cathedral. May the powerful intercession of St. Olav protect you; may the Lord bless you.