Cardinals Poised to Meet in Rome

Pope Asks for Prayers for Extraordinary Consistory

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The extraordinary consistory of cardinals that starts Monday will discuss the future direction of the Church.

“During the next few days, we will together consider the prospects for the life of the Church and her mission in the world,” John Paul II told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square at midday today.

All 183 cardinals have been called to the meeting. A point of departure for their discussions will be the apostolic letter “Novo Millennio Ineunte” which, among other topics, touches on interreligious dialogue, evangelization, ecumenism and the need for new pastoral strategies.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, revealed today on Italian television that in the extraordinary consistory of 1994, the Holy Father said, “It is not right that the cardinals should meet only when there is no Pope.”

Before praying the “Regina Caeli” with the 30,000 pilgrims on hand at St. Peter´s, the Pope compared the upcoming consistory to the first Council of Jerusalem, in which the apostles participated. At that first-century meeting, it was decided that pagans converted to Christianity did not have to be circumcised or observe the Mosaic law.

“From that day on, the Church ´took to the road,´ ready to carry the Gospel to all peoples and cultures,” the Pope explained. “The apostolic thrust imprinted by the Spirit at the beginning has not been exhausted and continues even now.”

“The extraordinary consistory of the College of Cardinals … is also placed on this road,” the Pope explained. This is the sixth meeting of its kind in his pontificate.

John Paul II asked for prayers for the consistory. “Next to Peter´s Successor and his closest collaborators in guiding the universal Church, the support of the prayers of the People of God should not be lacking,” he said.

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