People can talk "all they want to about every theological problem we have in the world," but if it isn't done in a spirit of charity, it's empty, he said.
Similarly, newly-elevated Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago told journalists after getting his red biretta that the Pope's use of the word "virus" was spot-on, "because animosity can be contagious and it can be enflamed with circumstances that would allow it to be so."
The cardinal said he believes this does happen and that this virus "does feed on itself," but he also noted Francis' insistence that "each one of us have a responsibility to break that cycle of animosity."
When it comes to his own personal ministry in the Chicago archdiocese, Cardinal Cupich said he is inspired by Pope Francis "to see the world like he does, to have that more global outlook," giving more attention to poverty and persecution.
He noted that in a brief conversation with Pope Francis before the consistory, he assured the Pope of his obedience to the Church and to the Petrine ministry.
In addition to Cardinals Tobin, Farrell and Cupich, 14 other priests and bishops were elevated to the cardinalate.
Many of them come from the world's peripheries.
As in previous years, Francis has stuck close to his vision of having a broader, more universal representation of the Church in the College of Cardinals. He has elevated many bishops from small countries or islands that have never before had a cardinal, as well as from countries which present particular challenges in terms of pastoral outreach, such as those suffering violence or persecution.
Out of the Pope's new nominations, seven come from countries that have previously never had a cardinal, including: the Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Mauritius Island, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Lesotho and Albania.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who attended the consistory, told CNA that while the Pope frequently speaks about the need to go out to the world's peripheries, "these one have done it."
He noted that there are "many people in the Church that don't know about the existence of these places," so now to now have a cardinal there is "an indication of the vision of the Holy Father for the universality, the catholicity, of the Church."
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The cardinal also spoke about the new cardinals' brief encounter with Benedict XVI after the consistory, explaining that "all of them are very happy." He said to see Benedict now is "a joy."
Cardinal O'Malley said the Year of Mercy has been the most successful Holy Year he has ever experienced.
"It touched the batteries of the entire world," he said, adding "thousands of people returned to the sacraments, they understood how to practice mercy, how to forgive one another. It was really a spiritual success."
Elise Harris was senior Rome correspondent for CNA from 2012 to 2018.