November 24 Consistory: Ecumenism and the New Cardinals

Source: FSSPX News


On Friday, November 23, the eve of the consistory, Benedict XVI met with the cardinals behind closed doors for a day of work and prayer. The morning session opened with the recitation of the Hour of Terce, in the presence of 143 cardinals. After having congratulated the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, who was celebrating his eightieth birthday, Benedict XVI introduced the theme for the day’s discussion: Ecumenical Dialogue in the Light of Prayer and of the Lord’s Command: Ut Unum Sint.

 Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke about the current situation of ecumenical dialogue, treating separately the relations with the ancient Churches of the East, relations with the ecclesial communities that came into being in the wake of the Reform, and relations with charismatic and Pentecostal movements that developed above all during last century. Next, he presented the results achieved, the progress made to date and the problems still outstanding.”

Seventeen cardinals intervened, and spoke especially about the questions related to the ecumenical commitment common to all Christians in the socio-charitable field, and in the defense of morals in the midst of a changing society. It was recalled that the social doctrine of the Church, and its application constituted a promising area of ecumenical action, and that alongside of this, the “purification of the memory” must be continued, and communication must be handled in such a way so as not to hurt the various Christians sensibilities. Cardinal Kasper suggested to increase ecumenical initiatives such as the recent Sibiu (Romania) Meeting, or the Interreligious Meeting in Naples (Italy), the recent visit of the Patriarch of Moscow to Paris (France), and the regular meetings of ecclesial movements in Stuttgart (Germany). The cardinals also discussed relations with Judaism, and interreligious dialogue.

The meeting continued at 5:00 pm with Vespers, and contributions from 16 other cardinals. They discussed collaboration among Christians of different confessions for the defense of the family in society and in legislative systems, and also the importance of the spiritual aspect in ecumenical personal relations. A number of contributions dealt with the relations with the Jews and with Islam. It was also an opportunity to evaluate the meaning of the letter from 138 Muslim leaders and the recent visit of the king of Saudi Arabia to the Holy Father.

 Other subjects discussed included the difficulties faced by the Christian faith in a secularized world, the importance of a new evangelization which responds to post-modern man’s most profound and permanent hopes for happiness and freedom. Such a missionary drive is found on the Latin American continent, and has been recently fueled by the general conference of the Latin American episcopate in Aparecida, Brazil. Thereupon followed contributions dedicated to the consecrated life and the formation of seminarians. Some cardinals were keen to mention the favorable reception given to Benedict XVI’ Letter in China by bishops and faithful. Many stressed the urgency of the Church’s commitment to peace, to the struggle against poverty and to disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament. Lastly, the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, the Pauline Year, and the diffusion of Catholic press, in particular L’Osservatore Romano, were also mentioned.

Following a brief reply from Cardinal Kasper, the Holy Father delivered the concluding address. He thanked the cardinals for their participation and announced the forthcoming publication of an encyclical dedicated to the subject of hope, which is for him the answer to the deepest expectations of our contemporaries.


Creation of 23 New Cardinals

On Saturday, November 24, Benedict XVI celebrated his second Ordinary Public Consistory during which he created 23 new cardinals. After the opening liturgical greeting, the Holy Father read the formula of creation and proclaimed the names of the new Cardinals. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches thanked the Pope in the name of all.

During the homily, Benedict XVI reminded each of the cardinal that he “represents a portion of the interconnected Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church disseminated everywhere.” Speaking of the communities entrusted to them, he said that he thought “in a special way of those most tried by suffering, challenges and difficulties of various kinds,” and more particularly “of the beloved Christian communities in Iraq.” The Christians in Iraq, he continued, “are experiencing in their own flesh the tragic consequences of a prolonged conflict and at this time are living in an especially fragile and delicate political situation. By calling the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church to enter the College of Cardinals, I intended to give a material expression to my spiritual closeness to and affection for those peoples. Let us reaffirm together, dear and venerable Brothers, the entire Church’s solidarity with the Christians of that beloved Land and invite the faithful to invoke from the Merciful God the advent of the longed-for reconciliation and peace for all the peoples concerned.”

Next, Benedict XVI commented upon the Gospel of St. Mark which tells how “ambition spurred the sons of Zebedee to claim the best places for themselves in the messianic kingdom.” The Holy Father recalled that “every true disciple of Christ can aspire to one thing only: to sharing in his Passion without claiming any reward. Christians are called to assume the condition of a ‘servant’, following in Jesus’ footsteps, that is, spending their lives for others in a free and disinterested way. It is not the search for power and success but humble self-giving for the good of the Church that must mark our every action and our every word. True Christian greatness, in fact, does not consist in dominating but in serving.” “May you be apostles of God who is Love and witnesses of evangelical hope: this is what the Christian people expect of you,” the Holy Father concluded. “Christ asks you to profess his truth to men and women, to embrace and share his cause; and to do all this (…) with that inner humility which is the fruit of cooperation with God’s grace.”

The homily was followed by the profession of faith of the new cardinals and the oath of faithfulness and obedience to the pope and his successors. One by one, in the order in which they were created, the new cardinals knelt before the Holy Father to receive the red biretta and to be assigned a title or deaconry. The pope placed the biretta upon the head of each saying: Receive this “red as a sign of the dignity of the office of a cardinal, signifying that you are ready to act with fortitude, even to the point of spilling your blood for the increase of the Christian faith, for peace and harmony among the people of God, for freedom and the spread of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.” Then the pope handed over the cardinal’s Bull of Creation and exchanged a kiss of peace with the new members, who in turn exchanged it with their fellow cardinals. As of November 24, the Sacred College numbered 201 members, of whom 120 are electors.


On Sunday, November 25, Benedict XVI presided over the Mass concelebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica with the 23 new cardinals, to whom he gave the ring of office.

In his homily, the Holy Father specified that “on the Cardinal’s ring (…) is portrayed precisely the Crucifixion. This, dear new Cardinal-Brothers, will always be an invitation for you to remember of what King you are servants, on what throne he has been raised and how he has been faithful to the end in overcoming sin and death with the power of divine mercy.” “Thus, wearing the Cardinal’s ring, you are constantly called to give your life for the Church.” “How can one not feel at the same time the joy and the responsibility to serve this King, to witness his Lordship with one’s life and word? In a particular way this is our duty, venerable Cardinal-Brothers: to proclaim the truth of Christ, hope of every person and the entire human family.”

“And it is for me a motive of consolation to be able to always count on you, both collegially and individually, to bring to fulfilment with me the Petrine Ministry’s fundamental duty.” Then the Holy Father underlined “an aspect that is strongly united to this mission and that I entrust to your prayer: peace among all Christ’s disciples, as a sign of the peace that Jesus came to establish in the world.” “The Church is that portion of humanity in whom Christ’s royalty is already manifest, who has peace as its privileged manifestation. It is the new Jerusalem, still imperfect because it is yet a pilgrim in history, but able to anticipate in some way the heavenly Jerusalem,” he added. Benedict XVI concluded by reminding the new cardinals that “prayer for peace and unity constituted [their] first and principal mission, so that the Church may be ‘solid and compact’, a sign and instrument of unity for the whole human race.”

On November 26, the Sovereign Pontiff received the 23 new cardinals surrounded by their families, faithful, and friends. “The Consistory and yesterday’s Eucharistic Celebration on the Solemnity of Christ the King have afforded us a special opportunity to experience the Church’s catholicity, well represented by the variegated provenance of the members of the College of Cardinals gathered round the Successor of Peter.”

The Holy Father asked the faithful to pray for their cardinals and for himself “that the communion of the Pastors with the Pope may always be firm, so as to offer the whole world the witness of a Church faithful to Christ and ready to respond with prophetic courage to the spiritual expectations and needs of the people of our time.” (Source VIS)