Vatican City, Feb 14, 2015 / 09:20 am
Pope Francis welcomed the Catholic Church's newest cardinals on Saturday, encouraging them to center themselves in Jesus Christ as they lead the faithful in patience, justice, and docility to the Holy Spirit.
"The man of God is someone captivated by truth, one who encounters it fully in the word and flesh of Jesus Christ, the inexhaustible source of our joy," the Pope said in Saint Peter's Basilica at a ceremony creating the 20 newest members of the College of Cardinals.
The Pope stressed the importance of charity, noting that "those who abide in charity are not self-centered" and concerned with their own interests. Rather, charity draws us away from self-centeredness "in order to set ourselves in the real center, which is Christ alone," whereby we can "be persons who are respectful and attentive to the good of others."
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who personally knows many of those being received into the college, attended the consistory. Many family members of the new cardinals were in attendance.
Pope Francis described the cardinalate as an "honor," but one which "is not honorific." The word "cardinal" originates from the Latin word for hinge, "cardo," and the Pope's remarks played on this origin.
The Pope, quoting Lumen Gentium, said to the cardinals: "You are 'hinges' and are 'incardinated' in the Church of Rome, which 'presides over the entire assembly of charity'."
Three of the newest members to the college of cardinals hail from countries which have never before been represented by a cardinal: Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon (Burma); Bishop Soane Mafi of Tonga; and Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado of Santiago de Cabo Verde.
Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, recently-appointed prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, also received his red hat on Saturday. Speaking near the beginning of the ceremony on behalf of all the new cardinals, he expressed "gratitude" to Pope Francis, assuring him of their "loyal and sincere collaboration" in support of his mission of guiding the Church, according to Vatican Radio's translation.
Out of the new cardinals, 15 are currently eligible to vote in the next papal election. Newly-created Cardinal José de Jesús Pimiento Rodriguez of Colombia, 96, was unable to attend, citing age.
The Pope's address to the cardinals drew its guiding theme from the reading from Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. The Pope stressed the importance of presiding over the Church "in charity."
Pope Francis began by invoking the Virgin Mary's intercession to "help us to listen" to God's word and "assist us by her humility and maternal tenderness, because charity, as God's gift, grows wherever humility and tenderness are found."
Taking the congregation step-by-step through St. Paul's "hymn to charity," the Pope explained that patience "is in some sense synonymous with catholicity." This means "to love without limits," he said, including that which "is great without neglecting what is small," and knowing "how to love through acts of kindness," including "those unfriendly to us."
Reflecting on St. Paul's words that charity "is not jealous or boastful," nor "puffed up with pride," Pope Francis observed that persons at "every stage" of life are susceptible to this temptation, including "Church dignitaries." However, it is for this reason that "the divine power of love, which transforms hearts, can be all the more evident in us, so that it is no longer you who live, but rather Christ who lives in you."
The Holy Father said charity is neither "irritable" nor "resentful," but rather "frees us from the risk of reacting impulsively," as well as "from the mortal danger of pent-up anger, of that smoldering anger which makes us brood over wrongs we have received." Such sentiment "is unacceptable in a man of the Church."
Charity, moreover, "does not rejoice at the wrong, but rejoices in the right." Pope Francis stressed the importance of "a strong sense of justice" on the those in Church governance, who must also "rejoice in the right."
Finally, St. Paul's description of love as that which "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" offers "a spiritual and pastoral program of life," the Pope said.
Playing once again on the word "cardinal," Pope Francis concluded by saying that "the more we are "incardinated" in the Church of Rome, the more we should become docile to the Spirit, so that charity can give form and meaning to all that we are and all that we do."
After the close of the consistory, Pope Francis announced the canonizations of three new saints: Maria of the Crucified Jesus, a professed religious of the discalced Carmelites; Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary; and Giovanna Emilia de Villeneuve, the French founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.
The three will be canonized on May 13.