In a letter addressed to the 19 men who will be made cardinals during a February consistory, Pope Francis said that the role of a cardinal is not a “decoration,” but rather a “service” to the Church.
In his Jan. 13 letter to the cardinal-elects, the Pope extended his greetings to his brother bishops, guaranteeing them of his “closeness and prayer.”
“It is my hope,” he stated, “that joined with the Church of Rome and clothed in the virtues and sentiments of the Lord Jesus, you may help me with fraternal efficacy in my service to the Universal Church.”
Highlighting the unique role of Cardinals within the Church, Pope Francis stressed to the newly-appointed men that “the cardinalship does not imply promotion,” adding that “it is neither an honor nor a decoration.”
“It is simply a service that requires you to broaden your gaze and open your hearts.”
The pontiff noted that although this might appear to be “paradoxical,” the capacity “to look further and to love more universally with greater intensity may be acquired only by following the same path of the Lord.”
This path, he explained, is “the path of self-effacement and humility, taking on the role of a servant.”
“Therefore I ask you, please, to receive this designation with a simple and humble heart,” adding that “while you must do so with pleasure and joy, ensure that this sentiment is far from any expression of worldliness or from any form of celebration contrary to the evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.”
Pope Francis closed his letter assuring the new cardinals that he remains at their “disposal,” and asking that they “pray for me and to ask for prayers on my behalf.”
“May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin protect you,” he prayed.
The Holy Father announced the names of the new cardinal-elects after his weekly Angelus address on Jan. 12, and are appointments that – in a statement made the same day by Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi – show the Pope’s “concern for people struck by poverty.”
The new cardinals will be incorporated into the cardinalship on Feb. 22, following a Feb. 20-21 consistory on the topic of the family.