Pope highlights Church’s universality at consistory

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Pope Benedict XVI consecrated six non-European prelates as new members of the College of Cardinals during a consistory inside St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Nov 24, 2012. (Noli Yamsuan)

MANILA, Nov. 25, 2012—Focusing on the catholicity of the Church as his theme, Pope Benedict XVI created six new Cardinals during a consistory held at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, November 24.

Through the words “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” which they professed during the consistory the new cardinals proclaimed their solemn fidelity to the one Church founded by Jesus Christ.

“Only by professing and preserving this rule of truth intact can we be authentic disciples of the Lord,” the pope said in his homily.

Pope Benedict on November 24, eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King, bestowed the red hat and ring on six new cardinals, all of them non-Europeans.

As observers noted, the non-inclusion of Europeans among the new set of cardinals has leveled somewhat the playing field in the College of Cardinals increasing the number of non-European cardinal-electors to 58.

The creation of six new cardinals raised the number of cardinal-electors, those eligible to vote in a conclave to choose the successor of Pope Benedict to 120, of this, 62 are Europeans.

The six new “Princes of the Church” come from North and South America, Africa and Asia and represents both the Latin rite and the rite of Eastern Orthodox churches: Archbishop James M. Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household; His Beatitude, Bechara Boutros Raï, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch in Lebanon; His Beatitude, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum in India and head of the Syro-Malankara Church; Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria; Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogotá, Colombia; and Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in the Philippines.

Stressing that the Church is not of a single group but embraces the whole of humanity, the “universality of the Church,” the pope said, “flows from the universality of God’s unique plan of salvation for the world.”

He said it is “within the context and the perspective of the Church’s universality” that the College of Cardinals is situated: “it presents a variety of faces, because it expressed the face of the universal Church.”

“In this Consistory, I want to highlight in particular the fact that the Church is the Church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents. She is the Church of Pentecost: amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God,” the pope said.

With their elevation to cardinals, the new princes of the church were given titular churches in Rome to indicate their bond and intimate link to the See of Peter.

The pope said the rite “expresses the supreme value of fidelity”, thus reminding the new cardinals of the significance of the consistory in the Church.

The Cardinals during consistory are given a ring to symbolize unity, and a red biretta to signify their willingness to die for Christ and His Church.

Kneeling before the pope to be bestowed with the red biretta and the ring, each new cardinal proclaimed the words, which, according to the pope have profound spiritual and ecclesial significance: “I promise and I swear, from now on and for as long as I live, to remain faithful to Christ and his Gospel, constantly obedient to the Holy Apostolic Roman Church.”

The red biretta, said the pope, is a reminder that “you must be ready to conduct yourselves with fortitude, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and well-being of the people of God.”

The pope also consigned each cardinal with a ring “accompanied by the admonition”: “Know that your love for the Church is strengthened by your love for the Prince of the Apostles.”

As the pope’s closest advisers, among the main duties of the Cardinals is to call a conclave to elect a new pope when the papacy becomes vacant. (CBCPNews)

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