VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II installed 30 new cardinals, keeping the name of a 31st secret, and appealed for fidelity to the Church “to the spilling of blood.”
Before approaching the Pope in front of St. Peter’s Basilica today, the 30 new cardinals pronounced the solemn oath of obedience and faithfulness to the Church and to the Successor of the Apostle Peter, John Paul II, and his legitimate Successors.
The Holy Father pronounced the Latin formula for the imposition of the sign proper to the dignity of cardinal, saying that the red color of the biretta, depicting the cardinal’s dignity, “symbolizes that you are ready to conduct yourselves with fortitude to the spilling of blood for the spreading of the Christian faith, for peace, and the tranquility of the People of God, and for freedom and the spread of the holy Roman Church.”
As opposed to past consistories, the Pope handed the biretta personally to each cardinal, instead of placing it directly on the head, as well as giving them the “bulla” of their elevation as cardinals, and the title of a church in the Roman Diocese. According to the origins of this institution, cardinals are clergy “incardinated” in the Diocese of Rome.
The Holy Father delegated the reading of a homily he wrote to Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for general affairs of the Vatican Secretariat of State, in which he stressed the responsibility cardinals undertake, who must demonstrate their love of Christ and of the Church “to the point of sacrificing” their lives.
The new cardinals either will help the Pope in the Roman Curia, or as they carry out their ministry in archdioceses. Older cardinals dedicate themselves to study and defend Catholic doctrine, as well as to ecumenical dialogue.
In his homily at the installation Mass, the Holy Father asked them to be “humble and selfless servants of brothers, fleeing from every temptation of a career or of personal benefit. … Only if you make yourselves servants will you fulfill your mission and help the Successor of Peter to be, in turn, the ‘servant of the servants of God.'”
The cardinals exchanged embraces in an atmosphere far removed from solemn protocol. Witnessing this, John Paul II was moved to tears to the point of drying his eyes with a handkerchief. They also received pilgrims to Rome who congratulated them in personal meetings.
The Pope will concelebrate Mass with the new cardinals on Wednesday, and hand them the cardinal’s ring.