Rome, Italy, Nov 18, 2016 / 15:26 pm
In a simple rite this Saturday, 17 prelates will receive a red biretta from Pope Francis and thus join the College of Cardinals.
Dressed in their red robes, the cardinals-to-be will gather in St. Peter Basilica, profess the Creed, and then approach Pope Francis one by one. The Pope will give each of them the red biretta, and their cardinal’s ring
The Pope will place the red hat on each cardinal’s head and say:
“To the glory of almighty God and the honor of the Apostolic See, receive the scarlet biretta as a sign of the dignity of the cardinalate, signifying your readiness to act with courage, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and tranquility of the people of God and for the freedom and growth of the Holy Roman Church.”
As he places the ring on a new cardinal’s finger, the Pope will say: “Receive this ring from the hand of Peter and know that, with the love of the Prince of the Apostles, your love for the Church is strengthened.”
Each cardinal will be assigned a titular church. This is an important act, as the cardinals must be a part of the Diocese of Rome, whose bishop and primate is the Pope. This means cardinals are always linked to Rome, though they come from different countries.
The College of Cardinals reflects how the Synod of the Diocese of Rome evolved to become a governmental body. It is an institution that can be simply considered as “the Pope’s Senate.”
Cardinals are now part of Vatican Congregations and dicasteries, and in that capacity they help the Pope to govern the Church. This was not always the case.
During the Middle Ages, consistories were convoked any time the Pope had to make an important decision. The meeting of cardinals also served as a tribunal. In the twelfth century, Pope Alexander III scheduled one consistory per month. Not long after Alexander III’s pontificate, Pope Innocent III scheduled three meetings per week.
In the 16th century, under Pope Sixtus V’s curial reforms, the consistory lost some of its power. Ever since, cardinals mainly assist the Pope in governing the Church and working in Vatican congregations. The consistory is convoked to give a particular solemnity to important moments of the Church.
The rite of the consistory was reformed in 1969 by Blessed Paul VI. The reform gave a liturgical framework to the creation of a new cardinal, though the event had not previously been seen as a liturgical moment.