By Deborah Castellano Lubov

The heart of a cardinal must always stay with Christ. No to becoming a ‘secular’ Eminence.

Pope Francis stressed this during the Ordinary Public Consistory, today, Nov. 28, for the creation of 13 new cardinals in a socially distant St. Peter’s Basilica as the world grapples with the COVID19 resurgence worldwide.

Cardinals Cornelius Sim, Apostolic Vicar of Brunei, and Jose F. Advincula, Archbishop of Capiz, Philippines, were not be able to be present due to the contingent health situation, but still were created cardinals in the consistory.

“A representative of the Holy Father, at another time to be determined, will give them the hat, the ring and the bull with the title,” Holy See Press Office Director, Matteo Bruni, said earlier this week. “The members of the College of Cardinals unable to reach Rome were able to join the Celebration, participating remotely from their headquarters, through a digital platform that allowed them to connect with the Vatican Basilica.”

The Consistory took place at the Altar of the Chair in the Vatican Basilica, to create the new Cardinals, for the imposition of the biretta, the delivery of the ring and the assignment of the Title or Diakonia.

In the Pope’s homily, he told the new cardinals that today’s Gospel passage has often accompanied consistories for the creation of new Cardinals.

“It is not merely a “backdrop” but also a “road sign” for us who today are journeying together with Jesus,” Pope Francis said, underscoring: “For He is our strength, who gives meaning to our lives and our ministry.”

Francis urged his “dear brothers” to carefully consider the words they just heard. The Lord knew what his followers were experiencing, nor was he indifferent to it.

“Jesus never abandons his friends; he never neglects them. Even when it seems that he is going his own way, he is always doing so for our sake. All that he does, he does for us and for our salvation. In the specific case of the Twelve, he did this to prepare them for the trials to come, so that they could be with him, now and especially later, when he would no longer be in their midst. So that that they could always be with him, on his road,” he said.

While saying that “all of us love Jesus, all of us want to follow him, yet we must always be careful to remain on the road.”

“For our bodies can be with Him, but our hearts can wander far afield and so lead us off the road. The scarlet of a Cardinal’s robes, which is the colour of blood, can, for a worldly spirit,” Francis warned, “become the colour of a secular ’eminence.’”

The Pope noted how in the Gospel passage, we are always struck by the sharp contrast between Jesus and his disciples. “Jesus is aware of this; he knows it and he accepts it.”

Yet the contrast is still there: Jesus is on the road, while they are off the road. Two roads that cannot meet.

“Only the Lord, through His Cross and Resurrection,” he said, “can save his straying friends who risk getting lost. It is for them, as well as for all the others, that Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem. For them, and for everyone, will he let his body be broken and his blood shed. For them, and for all, will he rise from the dead, and forgive and transform them by the gift of the Spirit. He will at last put them back on his road.”

The Jesuit Pope noted that St. Mark, in his Gospel, included this story because it contains a saving truth necessary for the Church in every age. “Even though the Twelve come off badly,” Francis recognized, he said this text entered the canon of Scripture because it reveals the truth about Jesus and about us.

“For us too, in our day,” he said, “it is a message of salvation. We too, Pope and Cardinals, 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. For conversion means precisely this: that we pass from being off the road to journeying on God’s road.

The Holy Father concluded, praying the the Holy Spirit give them this grace, today and forever.

Tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 29 at 10 a.m., Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica, concelebrating with the newly created cardinals.

The prelates just created cardinals include: Bishop  Mario Grech, Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops; Bishop  Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Archbishop  Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda; Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington; Archbishop José Advincula of Capiz, Philippines; Archbishop Celestino Aós Braco of Santiago de Chile; Bishop  Cornelius Sim, titular Bishop of  Puzia di Numidia and Vicar Apostolic of Brunei, Kuala Lumpur; Archbishop Augusto Paolo Lojudice of Siena-Colle Val d’Elsa-Montalcino; Fra Mauro Gambetti, Conventual Franciscan, Custodian of the Sacred Convent of Assisi.

The prelates just created new Cardinal Emerituses, due to their advanced age, are: Bishop  Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, Bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico; Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, titular Archbishop of Asolo, Apostolic Nuncio; Fra Raniero Cantalamessa, Capuchin, Preacher of the Papal Household; Msgr Enrico Feroci, parish priest of Holy Mary of the Divine Love in Castel di Leva.

In consideration of the health dispositions in force at present, given the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual courtesy visits did not take place. Normally faithful, including some from the new cardinals’ native countries, have the opportunity briefly greet the new Eminences between the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall and the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace for a two hour window.

“The Consistory’s celebrations,” Bruni added, “will not have the shape of the Papal Chapel” and “will have a very limited participation of the people (lay faithful, consecrated persons, presbyters and Bishops).” In this regard, it noted, the tickets issued by the Prefecture of the Papal Household, will be reserved only for those that will accompany the newly created Cardinals.

The Rite of the Consistory was carried out, starting with the chair of the Holy Father being placed in front of the Altar, and the gathering place of the new Cardinals, being at the Altar of Saint Leo.

In the presbytery, the newly created Cardinals were placed in two rows, on the sides of the Altar, to the right and left of the Holy Father. Together with their secretaries, and accompanied by the Masters of Ceremonies in charge, they went in procession to the presbytery, along the street on the side of the Chapel of Saint Joseph.

Some 100 faithful, accompanying the new cardinals, took part in the celebration, in addition to the Cardinals of new and old creation. These faithful took their place behind the Cardinals of old creation. Parish priests and rectors of the titular churches entrusted to the new cardinals by the Pope were also present. At the beginning of the celebration, the first of the new Cardinals, Cardinal Mario Grech, greeted the Holy Father.

While reminding the celebration will be carried out as usual, the Vatican noted: “Only the embrace of peace between the Cardinals is omitted.” Consequently, after the rite of creation, the new Cardinals return to their place in the presbytery.

For the rites of the imposition of the biretta, delivery of the ring and assignment of the Title, the newly created Cardinals came before the Holy Father, moving alternatively from left to right, looking at the Altar. At the end of the celebration, the Holy Father — together with the new Cardinals and their secretaries –, left in procession passing by the Chapel of Saint Joseph, returning to the sacristy.

Here is the Vatican’s full translation of the Holy Father’s prepared homily:

***

The road. The road is the setting of the scene just described by the Evangelist Mark (10:32-45). It is always the setting, too, for the Church’s journey: the road of life and history, which is salvation history insofar as it is travelled with Christ and leads to his paschal mystery. Jerusalem always lies ahead of us. The cross and the resurrection are part of our history; they are our “today” but also and always the goal of our journey.

This Gospel passage has often accompanied consistories for the creation of new Cardinals. It is not merely a “backdrop” but also a “road sign” for us who today are journeying together with Jesus. For he is our strength, who gives meaning to our lives and our ministry.

Consequently, dear brothers, we need carefully to consider the words we have just heard.

Mark emphasizes that, on the road, the disciples were “amazed” and “afraid” (v. 32). Why? Because they knew what lay ahead of them in Jerusalem. More than once, Jesus had already spoken to them openly about it. The Lord knew what his followers were experiencing, nor was he indifferent to it. Jesus never abandons his friends; he never neglects them. Even when it seems that he is going his own way, he is always doing so for our sake. All that he does, he does for us and for our salvation. In the specific case of the Twelve, he did this to prepare them for the trials to come, so that they could be with him, now and especially later, when he would no longer be in their midst. So that that they could always be with him, on his road.

Knowing that the hearts of his disciples were troubled, Jesus “once more” called the Twelve and told them “what was to happen to him” (v. 32). We have just heard it ourselves: the third announcement of his passion, death and resurrection. This is the road taken by the Son of God. The road taken by the Servant of the Lord. Jesus identifies himself with this road, so much so that he himself is the road. “I am the way” (Jn 14:6), he says. This way, and none other.

At this point, a sudden shift takes place, which enables Jesus to reveal to James and John – but really to all the Apostles – the fate in store for them. Let us imagine the scene: after once again explaining what will happen to him in Jerusalem, Jesus looks the Twelve squarely in the eye, as if to say: “Is this clear?” Then he resumes his journey, walking ahead of the group. Two of his disciples break away from the others: James and John. They approach Jesus and tell him what they want: “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (v. 37). They want to take a different road. Not Jesus’ road, but a different one. The road of those who, perhaps even without realizing it, “use” the Lord for their own advancement. Those who – as Saint Paul says – look to their own interests and not those of Christ (cf. Phil 2:21). Saint Augustine speaks of this in his magnificent sermon on shepherds (No. 46). A sermon we always benefit from rereading in the Office of Readings.

Jesus listens to James and John. He does not get upset or angry. His patience is indeed infinite. He tells them: “You do not know what you are asking” (v. 38). In a way, he excuses them, while at the same time reproaching them: “You do not realize that you have gone off the road”. Immediately after this, the other ten apostles will show by their indignant reaction to the sons of Zebedee how much all of them were tempted to go off the road.

Dear brothers, all of us love Jesus, all of us want to follow him, yet we must always be careful to remain on the road. For our bodies can be with him, but our hearts can wander far afield and so lead us off the road. 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”.

In this passage of the Gospel, we are always struck by the sharp contrast between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus is aware of this; he knows it and he accepts it. Yet the contrast is still there: Jesus is on the road, while they are off the road. Two roads that cannot meet. Only the Lord, through his cross and resurrection, can save his straying friends who risk getting lost. It is for them, as well as for all the others, that Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem. For them, and for everyone, will he let his body be broken and his blood shed. For them, and for all, will he rise from the dead, and forgive and transform them by the gift of the Spirit. He will at last put them back on his road.

Saint Mark – like Matthew and Luke – included this story in his Gospel because it contains a saving truth necessary for the Church in every age. Even though the Twelve come off badly, this text entered the canon of Scripture because it reveals the truth about Jesus and about us. For us too, in our day, it is a message of salvation. We too, Pope and Cardinals, 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. For conversion means precisely this: that we pass from being off the road to journeying on God’s road.

May the Holy Spirit give us this grace, today and forever.

[Vatican-provided text]

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