Pope John Paul II told the Church's new cardinals that he counts on them for their faithful collaboration and their prayers. Thirty-one bishops became cardinals this morning during the Ninth Consistory in St. Peter's Square.
The Consistory, which is held as a public Liturgy of the Word, is the ceremony where the Pope proclaims the names new cardinals, confers to them their red caps and bestows a blessing upon them. Only 30 of the cardinals were present - one is "in pectore." "The Successor of the Fisherman of Galilee counts on your faithful collaboration," said the ailing pope. "He asks you to accompany him in prayer."
In his message, the 83-year-old pontiff said it is necessary for them to preach with words and examples. He noted that the new cardinals reflect multiple races and cultures, representing the unity and universality of the Church.
"The red in the cardinal's garments evokes the color of blood and recalls the heroism of the martyrs," he told the cardinals. "It is a symbol of a love for Jesus and his Church that knows no limits: love even up to the sacrifice of one's life. Big is the gift that has been given you, but bigger still is the responsibility that it requires.
"Only if you makes yourselves servants of all will you be able to complete your mission and help the Successor of Peter to be 'the servant of the servants of God'," he said.
"It is certainly a difficult ideal to realize, but the Good Shepherd assures us of his support," he encouraged the cardinals. "We can also count on the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church, and on the holy apostles Peter and Paul, the pillars and foundations of the Christian people."
The cardinals professed their faith before the Church and made a pledge of fidelity and obedience to the Pope and his successors. The Pope also each assigned each cardinal a different church in Rome, symbol of their participation in the Holy Father's pastoral ministry (the new title also makes the cardinals clerics of Rome).
John Paul then told the cardinals that they are constantly remembered in his prayers and he bestowed upon them his final benediction.