Pope Francis to New Cardinals: May the cross and resurrection always be your goal

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Enrico Feroci Nov. 28, 2020. Credit: EWTN-CNA Photo/Daniel Ibáñez/Vatican.

Pope Francis created 13 new cardinals Saturday, November 28 urging them to remain vigilant lest they lose sight of their goal of the cross and resurrection.

“All of us love Jesus, all of us want to follow him, yet we must always be vigilant to remain on the road,” Pope Francis said at the consistory November. 28.

“Jerusalem always lies ahead of us. The cross and the resurrection are … always the goal of our journey,” he said in his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In the seventh consistory of his pontificate, Pope Francis created cardinals from Africa, Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

Among them is Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, the Archbishop of Rwanda’s Kigali Archdiocese, becoming the first-ever Cardinal in the landlocked nation in the Great Rift Valley located at the convergence between African Great Lakes region and East Africa. He was assigned the titular church of San Sisto.

The only African-native among the new Cardinals, the Rwandese-born and Cleric of Kigali Archdiocese turned 62 on November 10.

Reacting to his October 25 appointment as Cardinal-designate, he said it was “a big surprise” beyond his expectation and that he “never ever dreamt of being a Cardinal.”

“I was living my usual everyday activities when someone called me with the news. I did not believe it at first. It is a surprise for me,” the first Rwandese Cardinal who was appointed Bishop of Kibungo Diocese in 2013 said.

Pope Francis appointed him Archbishop of Kigali in 2018. His episcopal motto is “Ut vitam habeant’’ (That They May Have Life).

Among the 13 new Cardinals is also Wilton Cardinal Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington who became the first African American Cardinal in the Church’s history. He received the titular church of St. Mary Immaculate in Grottarossa.

Archbishop Celestino Aós Braco of Santiago, Chile; Archbishop Augusto Paolo Lojudice of Siena, Italy; and Fra Mauro Gambetti, Custos of the Sacred Convent of Assisi also joined the College of Cardinals.

Pope Francis placed a red hat on each cardinal’s head and said: “To the glory of almighty God and the honor of the Apostolic See, receive the scarlet biretta as a sign of the dignity of the cardinalate, signifying your readiness to act with courage, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and tranquility of the people of God and for the freedom and growth of the Holy Roman Church.”

Each of the newly elevated cardinals received a ring, and was assigned a titular church, tying them to the Diocese of Rome.

In his homily, the Pope warned the new cardinals of the temptation to follow a different road than the road to Calvary.

“The road of those who, perhaps even without  realizing it, ‘use’ the Lord for their own advancement,” he said. “Those who – as Saint Paul says – look to  their own interests and not those of Christ.”

“The scarlet of a cardinal’s robes, which is the color of blood, can, for a worldly spirit, become the color of a secular ‘eminence,’” Francis said, warning them of the “many kinds of corruption in the priestly life.”

Pope Francis encouraged the cardinals to reread St. Augustine’s sermon number 46, calling it a “magnificent sermon on shepherds.”

“Only the Lord, through his cross and resurrection, can save his straying friends who risk getting lost,” he said.

Nine of the new cardinals are under the age of 80 and thereby eligible to vote in a future conclave. Among them are Maltese Bishop Mario Grech, who became secretary general of the Synod of Bishops in September, and the Italian Bishop Marcello Semeraro, who was named prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in October.

The cardinals who participated in the consistory in St. Peter’s Basilica all wore face masks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two cardinal-designates were unable to attend the consistory because of travel restrictions. Cardinal-designate Cornelius Sim, the Apostolic Vicar of Brunei, and Cardinal-designate Jose F. Advincula of Capiz, in the Philippines followed the consistory via video link and will each receive a biretta, cardinal’s ring and title connected with a Roman parish from their apostolic nuncio “at another time to be determined.”

Italian Capuchin Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, received a red hat in St. Peter’s Basilica while wearing his Franciscan habit. Cantalamessa, who has served as the Preacher to the Papal Household since 1980, told CNA Nov. 19 that Pope Francis had permitted him to become a cardinal without being ordained a bishop. Aged 86, he will not be eligible to vote in a future conclave.

Three others who received the red hats are unable to vote in conclaves: Emeritus Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico; Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Permanent Observer Emeritus to the United Nations Office and Specialized Agencies in Geneva; and Msgr. Enrico Feroci, parish priest of Santa Maria del Divino Amore at Castel di Leva, Rome.

Pope Francis and the 11 new cardinals present in Rome paid a visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery following the consistory. Each new cardinal was introduced to the pope emeritus, who gave them a blessing after together singing the Salve Regina, according to the Holy See Press Office.

With this consistory, the number of voting cardinals comes to 128, and the number of non-voters to 101 for a total of 229 cardinals.


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