VATICAN CITY — At a ceremony for the creation of 14 cardinals Thursday, Pope Francis said the best promotion a person can receive is to serve the Person of Christ in the least of his people.
“This is the highest honor that we can receive, the greatest promotion that can be awarded us: to serve Christ in God’s faithful people,” the Pope said at an ordinary consistory in St. Peter’s Basilica June 28.
Speaking to the new and to the existing cardinals, he said credible authority stems from “sitting at the feet of others,” serving those “who are hungry, neglected, imprisoned, sick, suffering, addicted to drugs, cast aside ... real people, each with his or her own life story and experiences, hopes and disappointments, hurts and wounds.”
“None of us must feel ‘superior’ to anyone,” he continued. “None of us should look down at others from above. The only time we can look at a person in this way is when we are helping them to stand up.”
The Pope reflected on a passage from the Gospel of Mark, which recalls when the disciples were walking on the road to Jerusalem, and Christ, walking ahead of them, made his third announcement of his impending passion and death.
In recalling this event, St. Mark, he noted, “does not shrink from disclosing secrets present in the hearts of the disciples: their quest of honors, jealousy, envy, intrigue, accommodation and compromise.”
Yet Christ does not worry about this, Francis said. He keeps walking, telling the disciples forcefully: “But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant.”
The Pope repeated: “‘But it shall not be so among you.’ The Lord’s response is above all an encouragement and a challenge to his disciples to recoup their better part, lest their hearts be spoiled and imprisoned by a worldly mentality blind to what is really important.”
“What does it profit us to gain the whole world if we are corroded within? What does it profit us to gain the whole world if we are living in a stifling atmosphere of intrigues that dry up our hearts and impede our mission?”
Christ teaches that conversion, change of heart and reform of the Church should be carried out in the light of mission, he continued, pointing out the need to forget one’s own interests for the sake of upholding the Father’s, as related to the dignity of every person.
He urged the cardinals to strive to always be ready to accompany and embrace their distressed brothers and sisters and to avoid “useless wrangling about who is most important.”
“Only in this way can the authority of the Shepherd have the flavor of the Gospel and not appear as ‘a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,’” he said.
Following his homily, Pope Francis gave the proclamation creating the new cardinals. Afterward, each received their red biretta and cardinal’s ring. They were then assigned a titular church, which ties them to Rome.
Among the new cardinals is Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Babylon, who addressed Pope Francis on behalf of the new cardinals at the start of the ceremony.
The new cardinals from the Diocese of Rome and the Roman Curia are: Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect designate of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Kondrad Krajewski, papal almoner; and Angelo De Donatis, Rome’s vicar general and archpriest of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
From around the world, the cardinals are: Joseph Coutts of Karachi; Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima; Pedro Barreto of Huancayo; Desire Tsarahazana of Tamatave; Giuseppe Petrocchi of Aquila; and Thomas Aquino Mango Maeda of Osaka.
The three new cardinals of non-voting age are: Sergio Obeso Rivera of Xalapa, Toribio Ticono Porco of Corocoro, and Claretian Aquilina Bocos Merino.
As is customary, the cardinals proceeded to the Paul VI hall and to the Apostolic Palace to be formally greeted and congratulated. They also visited the pope emeritus.
The new cardinals will also concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the patrons of Rome. At the Mass, the Pope will also bestow the pallia on the new metropolitan archbishops appointed during the last year.
With the consistory, Pope Francis’ fifth, the College of Cardinals consists of 226 members, 125 of whom are below the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a future papal conclave. Pope Francis has created 59 cardinals