When Pope Benedict XVI creates 22 new cardinals next month, he will use a revised and simplified version of the ceremony to avoid any impression that becoming a cardinal is a sacrament.
“The creation of new cardinals had to be inserted into a context of prayer, while at the same time avoiding anything that could give rise to the idea of a ‘cardinalatial Sacrament,’" the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff said Jan. 10.
“Historically speaking, in fact, consistories have never been considered as a liturgical rite but as a meeting of the Pope with cardinals as part of the governance of the Church.”
The chief modification to the ceremony that will take place in Rome on Feb. 18 is that three phases will now be combined into one: the imposition of the biretta, the consignment of the ring and the assignation of each cardinal’s new title.
The Office of Liturgical Celebrations explained that prior to reforms instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1969, the imposition of the red hat took place during a public consistory while the ring and title were conferred in a secret consistory that took place later.
However, now that the distinction between the public and secret consistory no longer exists, it was deemed “coherent” to being the three phases together into a single rite.
The proclamation of Sacred Scripture will also take a shorter form, with a single Gospel reading – Mark 10:32-45 – but no first reading.
Finally, the collect and concluding prayers will also be those originally approved by Pope Paul VI in 1969.
Next month’s consistory will be the fourth of Pope Benedict’s pontificate. Of the 22 cardinals being created, two of them hail from the United States: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Now based in Rome, he was the Archbishop of Baltimore until August 2011. Also being installed as a cardinal is Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto.
Despite the changes to the installation ceremony that will take place on the Saturday, the Pope will still celebrate Mass with the new cardinals on Sunday, in keeping with tradition.