The consistory in the Vatican to create 13 new cardinals, 28 November 2020  (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis on Saturday held the 7th ordinary public consistory of his pontificate to create 13 new cardinals who come from 8 nations of the world.  He shared a reflection before bestowing on them the cardinal’s birretta (red hat), the ring and the title. 

He commented on a passage from Mark’s Gospel where Jesus speaks about his humiliation, passion, death and resurrection while approaching Jerusalem.  Meanwhile, James and John urge Jesus for a place of privilege when He is in glory.  But Jesus tells the two brothers they must first be ready to suffer and be a servant of others like the Son of Man.   

The Pope said that the road to Jerusalem is the road of life and salvation, which is travelled with Christ and which leads to the paschal mystery of Jesus.  “The cross and the resurrection are part of our history; they are our “today” but also and always the goal of our journey.”  Jesus, who is not indifferent to the amazement and fear of his disciples, prepares them for the trials to come so that they could always be with Him on His road.    

Keeping to Jesus’ road

James and John, he said, instead want to take “not Jesus’ road, but a different one”.  “All of us love Jesus, all of us want to follow him,” the Pope said, “yet we must always be careful to remain on the road.”  

“Our bodies can be with him, but our hearts can wander far afield and so lead us off the road.” Thinking about the “many types of corruption in priestly life”, the Pope said, “The scarlet of a Cardinal’s robes, which is the colour of blood, can, for a worldly spirit, become the colour of a secular ‘eminence’.” Such a person he warned “will no longer be the pastor close to the people.” “You will feel that you are only ’eminence’. When you feel that, you are off the road,” of the Lord.

The Pope said the road of Jesus and that of the disciples cannot meet.  “Only the Lord, through His cross and resurrection, can save His straying friends who risk getting lost.” 

“We too, Pope and Cardinals,” the Pope said, “must always see ourselves reflected in this word of truth.”  It is a sharpened sword; it cuts, it proves painful, but it also heals, liberates and converts us.” Conversion, concluded, means to pass “from being off the road to journeying on God’s road”.

Cardinals wearing protective masks attend a consistory ceremony at St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

The consistory 

During the consistory, the cardinals-designate professed the creed together and approached Pope Francis one by one who placed the red biretta on each one of them, giving them the cardinal’s ring and the title and rank.

Cardinals, who are the Pope’s closest collaborators, wear the colour red, which symbolizes their readiness to sacrifice themselves “to the point of shedding their own blood” in the service of the Successor of Peter.  Even though they live in their own countries, each cardinal is assigned a titular Church of Rome. This is symbolic of the cardinals being part of the Diocese of Rome, whose bishop is the Pope, successor of the first Bishop of Rome, St. Peter. 

Consistory under Covid-19

The consistory of November 28 has taken place in an extraordinary time.  Given the growing number of Covid-19 infections worldwide and the mandatory health protocols, the consistory had a limited congregation. Each new cardinal was allowed only a few guests or family members.  After the ceremony, the customary reception in different Vatican locations, to allow well-wishers to personally greet the new cardinals, was also scrapped. 

Because of the health emergency, Asia’s two new cardinals, Bishop Cornelius, Apostolic Vicar of Brunei and Archbishop Jose Advincula of Capiz, Philippines, were unable to come to Rome for the consistory.  They followed the ceremony that was streamed live from the Vatican. They will be handed their biretta, ring and title later in their respective countries.

Pope Francis announced the names of 13 new cardinals during the midday “Angelus” prayer on Sunday, October 25.  Four of these cardinals are above 80 years of age and hence are not eligible to vote for a new pope in the case of a conclave.  With the consistory of November 28, the total number of cardinals in the world rises to 229, of which 101 are 80 or above.

Source: Vatican News