197 cardinals participated in the extraordinary consistory, the first of its kind in seven years.
In his homily, Pope Francis pointed to Saint Pope Paul VI and his 1964 encyclical on the Church, Ecclesiam Suam.
Saint Paul VI loved the Church with “a love which is first and foremost gratitude, grateful wonder at her mystery and at the gift of our being not only members of the Church, but involved in her life, sharing in and, indeed, jointly responsible for her,” he said.
“At the beginning of his programmatic encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, written during the [Second Vatican] Council,” Francis said, “the first thought that came to the pope’s mind was that ‘the Church needs to cultivate a deeper awareness of her identity… her origin and her mission.’”
“In this regard, he made explicit reference to the Letter to the Ephesians, to ‘the providential plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God… so that through the Church… it may be made known.’”
“This was the case with the Apostle Saint Paul, as we see from his letters. His apostolic zeal and the concern for the community was always accompanied, and indeed preceded, by words of blessing filled with wonder and gratitude: ‘Blessed be God…’” Pope Francis said.
“May it also be the case with us,” he concluded. “May it be the case with each of you, dear brother Cardinals. May the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, obtain this grace for each and every one of us.”