College of Cardinals gather in Rome for Consistory, vow to assist Pope Benedict in mission of Church

.- Members of the College of Cardinals have gathered in the Vatican in advance of Friday’s Ordinary Public Consistory in which Pope Benedict XVI will create the first new cardinals of his pontificate.

Today, the Holy See hosted a day of prayer and reflection--called for by the Pope himself--during which the Cardinals asked the Holy Father how they could assist him in his mission as shepherd of the Church.

As the meeting commenced in the Vatican‘s Synod Hall, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who is dean of the College of Cardinals, thanked the Holy Father on behalf of all those present for having called them to this day of prayer. He called it an encouragement "to joint action more in keeping with the pastoral challenges of the present time".

He stressed that today’s meeting "shows the importance Your Holiness attributes to the College of Cardinals.”

“For our part,” he said in response, “we undertake to abide by the mission the Church expects from us".

Addressing the entire gathered body, Cardinal Sodano reflected that the cardinals help in the mission of the Pope "both when gathered collegially, and when acting individually within the Roman Curia".

In this light, he highlighted what he called the “complementarity” between the two consultative bodies which the Church places at the disposal of the Pontiff. Namely, these are the Synod, created after Vatican Council II, and the College of Cardinals itself.

The cardinal concluded by asking Pope Benedict to inform the College “of the themes upon which you wish to hear our opinion and to take counsel.”

“As dean,” he said, “it is also my honor to extend to you the devoted greetings of all members of the College of Cardinals who are absent because of urgent appointments or through reasons of health - such as Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, dean emeritus - and who are present in spirit".

The Vatican said that during today’s meeting, there will be free discussions among the participants, following a format similar to the Cardinal’s gathering last year prior to the papal conclave. Those were led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.

15 men from around the world will become Cardinals tomorrow including 2 from the U.S.

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