Vatican City, (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica at 11 a.m. today, Benedict XVI celebrated an ordinary public consistory for the creation of six new cardinals: James Michael Harvey, Bechara Boutros Rai O.M.M., Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Ruben Salazar Gomez and Luis Antonio G. Tagle. Following the new appointments the College of Cardinals will be composed of 211 members of whom 120, being under the age of eighty, are eligible to vote in a conclave for the election of a new Pope.
After the opening prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father pronounced his homily, following which he solemnly 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.
Each new cardinal then knelt before the Pope to received his biretta. The Pope said "you must be ready to conduct yourselves with fortitude, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and well-being of the people of God". He then also consigned to them a ring, saying, "Know that with the love of the Prince of the Apostles your love for the Church is reinforced", and he assigned to each one a titular or diaconate church in Rome as a sign of their participation in the Holy Father's pastoral care of Rome. The Pope then handed over the Bull of Creation as cardinal, assigned the title or diaconate and exchanged an embrace of peace with the new members of the College of Cardinals. The cardinals also exchanged such a sign among themselves. The rite concluded with the Prayer of the Faithful, the recitation of the Our Father and the final blessing.
Extracts from Benedict XVI's homily are given below:
"'I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church'. … These words, which the new Cardinals are soon to proclaim in the course of their solemn profession of faith, come from the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed, the synthesis of the Church’s faith that each of us receives at baptism. Only by professing and preserving this rule of truth intact can we be authentic disciples of the Lord. In this consistory, I would like to reflect in particular on the meaning of the word 'catholic', a word which indicates an essential feature of the Church and her mission. … What makes the Church catholic is the fact that Christ in His saving mission embraces all humanity. While during His earthly life Jesus’ mission was limited to the Jewish people, 'to the lost sheep of the house of Israel' from the beginning it was meant to bring the light of the Gospel to all peoples and lead all nations into the kingdom of God".
"This universalist perspective can be seen, among other things, from the way Jesus applied to Himself not only the title 'Son of David', but also 'Son of Man'. … Jesus takes up this rich and complex expression and refers it to Himself in order to manifest the true character of His Messianism: a mission directed to the whole man and to every man, transcending all ethnic, national and religious particularities. And it is actually by following Jesus, by allowing oneself to be drawn into His humanity and hence into communion with God, that one enters this new kingdom proclaimed and anticipated by the Church, a kingdom that conquers fragmentation and dispersal.
"Jesus sends His Church not to a single group, then, but to the whole human race, and thus He unites it, in faith, in one people, in order to save it. … This universal character emerges clearly on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fills the first Christian community with His presence, so that the Gospel may spread to all nations, causing the one People of God to grow in all peoples. … From that day, in the 'power of the Holy Spirit', according to Jesus’ promise, the Church proclaims the dead and risen Lord 'in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth'. The Church’s universal mission does not arise from below, but descends from above, from the Holy Spirit: from the beginning it seeks to express itself in every culture so as to form the one People of God. Rather than beginning as a local community that slowly grows and spreads outwards, it is directed towards a universal horizon, towards the whole: universality is inscribed within it.
"'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation'; 'make disciples of all nations'. With these words, Jesus sends the Apostles to all creation, so that God’s saving action may reach everywhere ... and giving them both a promise and a task: He promises that they will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and He confers upon them the task of bearing witness to Him all over the world, transcending the cultural and religious confines within which they were accustomed to think and live, so as to open themselves to the universal Kingdom of God. At the beginning of the Church’s journey, the Apostles and disciples set off without any human security, purely in the strength of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel and the faith. This is the yeast that spreads round the world, enters into different events and into a wide range of cultural and social contexts, while remaining a single Church. Around the Apostles, Christian communities spring up, but these are 'the' Church which is always the same, one and universal, whether in Jerusalem, Antioch, or Rome".
"Situated within the context and the perspective of the Church’s unity and universality is the College of Cardinals: it presents a variety of faces, because it expresses the face of the universal Church. In this Consistory, I want to highlight in particular the fact that the Church is the Church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents. She is the Church of Pentecost: amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God".