Pope Concludes Anniversary Week With 30 New Cardinals
VATICAN CITY — Closing out the celebrations of his anniversary week, Pope John Paul II added 30 new members to the College of Cardinals Oct. 21. The “consistory” ceremony was held in St. Peter's Square, with the new cardinals from 22 different countries — including one American and one Canadian — becoming members of the Roman clergy, an important bond for those responsible for electing the next bishop of Rome.
Usually a consistory for the creation of new cardinals becomes the major story in Rome. Not this time, as Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia told American pilgrims at a Mass two days after receiving the red hat.
“The overriding event of this week has been the 25th anniversary of our Holy Father,” he said. “And as part of that he has given the Church the gift of a beatification and now this consistory of new cardinals. We see in them in the unity of the Church across many different cultures.”
The new cardinals knelt before the Holy Father to receive the red zucchetto and biretta of their office, and the Pope reminded them in his homily (read by an aide) that the cardinalatial red is “the color of blood and recalls the heroism of the martyrs.”
“It is a symbol of a love for Jesus and for his Church that knows no limits: to love even to the sacrifice of one's life, to the shedding of blood,” the homily continued, perhaps with a special thought for the new cardinals from Nigeria, Sudan and Vietnam.
The consistory ceremony emphasized that among Christians, the leader must be the one who serves.
“The Redeemer asks [his apostles and their successors] to convert themselves to this ‘logic,’ which contrasts with that of the world,” John Paul's homily said. “To die to self and make themselves humble and disinterested servants of their brothers, refusing every temptation of careerism and personal gain.”
“Our only ambition is to contribute to the development of the Church in the third to put at the disposition of the Vicar of Christ our good will and our experience,” said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the former Vatican “foreign minister” who spoke on behalf of all the new cardinals.
As each cardinal received his red hat, he was assigned a “titular church” in Rome, thereby becoming a member of the clergy of Rome — a symbolic parish priest as it were. The cardinals who elect the next bishop of Rome are symbolically from the same diocese.
Titular churches are often chosen to reflect the circumstances or history of the cardinal. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the archbishop of Quebec, was assigned Santa Maria in Traspontina, a church near the Vatican that previously belonged to the recently deceased Cardinal Emmett Carter of Toronto — the church passing from one Canadian to another.
In the afternoon after the consistory the new cardinals traditionally greet well-wishers in the Apostolic Palace and the Audience Hall. The bedlam of the “courtesy visits” brings out local pride, genuine homage and, on the negative side, a fair dose of clerical bonhomie in welcoming the newest members of a very exclusive club. Some of the new cardinals looked upon their new admirers with self-deprecating humor.
“Those who support me are happy because they think I will revitalize the Church,” said Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia. “Those who are against me are also happy because they think in my new role I will kill the Church.”
While 30 new cardinals were announced, there were actually 31 nominated, with the name of the last one being reserved in pectore, or kept secret. Speculation on who it might be was widespread. Some observers thought it might be a Chinese bishop, as John Paul made an in pectore Chinese cardinal in 1979, revealing the name only in 1991.
The favorite, though, was Archbishop Tadeusz Kondru-siewicz of Moscow, as a sign of the Holy Father's esteem for Russia. In 1998, John Paul named two in pectore cardinals from Orthodox countries, but reserved the names to avoid offending Orthodox sensibilities. He may have done something similar with Moscow this time, leaving the name to be revealed either at a future consistory or in the last days of his life.
Father Raymond J. de Souza filed this report from Rome.