St. Peter’s Basilica at 10.30 a.m. Saturday morning, Benedict XVI celebrated the fourth ordinary public consistory of his pontificate, during which he created twenty-two new cardinals.
Following the opening prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father pronounced his homily, extracts of which are given below:
“‘Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam’. … With these words the entrance hymn has led us into the solemn and evocative ritual of the ordinary public consistory. … They are the efficacious words with which Jesus constituted Peter as the solid foundation of the Church. On such a foundation the faith represents the qualitative factor: Simon becomes Peter – the Rock – in as much as he professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God”.
“The words Jesus addressed to Peter highlight well the ecclesial character of today’s event. The new cardinals, in receiving the title of a church in this city or of a suburban diocese, are fully inserted in the Church of Rome led by the Successor of Peter, in order to cooperate closely with him in governing the universal Church. … In carrying out their particular service in support of the Petrine ministry, the new cardinals will be called to consider and evaluate the events, the problems and the pastoral criteria which concern the mission of the entire Church. In this delicate task, the life and the death of the Prince of the Apostles, Who for love of Christ gave Himself even unto the ultimate sacrifice will be an example”.
“It is with this meaning that the placing of the red biretta is also to be understood. The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for His Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood, if necessary, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the colour of their robes. Furthermore, they are asked to serve the Church with love and vigour, with the transparency and wisdom of teachers, with the energy and strength of shepherds, with the fidelity and courage of martyrs. They are to be eminent servants of the Church that finds in Peter the visible foundation of unity.
“In the Gospel we have just heard proclaimed there is offered a model to imitate and to follow. … Serving God and others, self-giving: this is the logic which authentic faith imparts and develops in our daily lives and which is not the type of power and glory which belongs to this world”.
Today’s Gospel reading in which James and John asked Christ to be allowed to sit with Him in His glory, one on His right and one on His left, “gives Jesus a way to address each of the disciples and ‘to call them to Himself’, almost to pull them in, to form them into one indivisible body with Him, and to indicate which is the path to real glory, that of God: ‘You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all’.
“Dominion and service, egoism and altruism, possession and gift, self-interest and gratuitousness: these profoundly contrasting approaches confront each other in every age and place. There is no doubt about the path chosen by Jesus: He does not merely indicate it with words to the disciples of then and of today, but He lives it in His own flesh. He explains, in fact, ‘For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many’. These words shed light upon today’s public Consistory with a particular intensity. They resound in the depths of the soul and represent an invitation and a reminder, a commission and an encouragement especially for you, dear and venerable brothers who are about to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals.
“According to biblical tradition, the Son of man is the One Who receives power and dominion from God. Jesus interprets His mission on earth by combining the figure of the Son of man with that of the suffering servant, described in Isaiah. … His service is realised in total faithfulness and complete responsibility towards mankind. In this way the free acceptance of His violent death becomes the price of freedom for many, it becomes the beginning and the foundation of the redemption of each person and of the entire human race.
“Dear Brothers who are to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals, may Christ’s total gift of self on the Cross be for you the foundation, stimulus and strength of a faith operative in charity. May your mission in the Church and the world always be ‘in Christ’ alone, responding to His logic and not that of the world, and may it be illumined by faith and animated by charity which comes to us from the glorious Cross of the Lord. On the ring which I will soon place on your finger, are represented Sts. Peter and Paul, and in the middle a star which evokes the Mother of God. Wearing this ring, you are reminded each day to remember the witness which these two Apostles gave to Christ even unto martyrdom here in Rome, their blood making the Church fruitful. The example of the Virgin Mother will always be for you an invitation to follow her who was strong in faith and a humble servant of the Lord”.
“Dear brothers and sisters, pray that [the new cardinals’] lives will always reflect the Lord Jesus, our sole Shepherd and Teacher, Source of every hope, Who points out the path to everyone. And pray also for me, that I may continually offer to the People of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide holy Church with a firm and humble hand”.
Following his homily the Pope pronounced the the formula of creation of the new cardinals, their names and the diaconate or presbyteral order to which they have been assigned. The new cardinals then recited the Creed and swore their faithfulness and obedience to the Pope and his successors. They then received their biretta and ring from the hands of the Pope who also assigned them their title or diaconate.
COMPOSITION OF THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS
With the creation of twenty-two new cardinals in Saturday morning’s consistory, the College of Cardinals now has 213 members of whom 125, being under the age of eighty, are eligible to vote in an eventual conclave for the election of a new Pope. The non electors, that is cardinals over the age of eighty and ineligible to vote in a conclave, now number 88.
Benedict XVI has created eighty-four cardinals in the four consistories of his pontificate.
The current members of the College of Cardinals come from seventy-one States, distributed as follows: Europe 119, North America (U.S.A. and Canada) 21, Latin America 32, Africa 17, Asia 20 and Oceania 4.
Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS)