As of Saturday, the Catholic Church has 17 new Cardinals. Joining the College were Cardinals from Mexico, Venezuela, Spain, Italy, the Central African Republic, Brazil, the United States, Belgium, the Islands of Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Lesotho and Albania. And all, except for the Cardinal from Lesotho, who was unable to travel to Rome for reasons of age, received the embrace and warmth of their faithful in the traditional courtesy visit, which took place in the afternoon in Paul VI Hall.
As well, they got a visit with Benedict XVI and his blessing.
The emotion could be felt among all those who attended, many residents of Rome and many others who traveled to the Eternal City accompanying their Cardinals. They did not mind waiting in long queues, as the “flocks” wanted to embrace their “shepherds.”
Cardinal Carlos Osoro, Archbishop of Madrid, told the media that the Pope encouraged him to “go forward” and “to give my life for the Church.” He described his meeting with Benedict XVI as “intimate” and said of him that he is “a man of God.” He also said that it was moving to see the Pope and Pope Emeritus together.
Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, Archbishop of Merida, Venezuela, also gave the press his impressions on what he experienced during the day. “Since I arrived, I have had the opportunity to speak with the Holy Father, especially about his interest in the universal Church and his concern for peace in the world and the situation in Venezuela,” he explained.
He also recalled that the Pope spoke to them about mercy and, “with the closing of the Jubilee Year, he insisted again“ on “the need for forgiveness, to give it and to receive it, so that we can have a more fraternal world, a world of peace and a world in which only by talking, by dialoguing, by people understanding one another, thinking of the needs of individuals and not other interests, is the way we can also offer from the Church and from faith that hope that fades away so much amid the problems that exist in the world.”
In regard to his meeting with the Pope Emeritus, he described it as “very cordial and sincere,” and he added that it was a “very beautiful gesture” on the part of Benedict XVI. All were able to greet him, he said, explaining that although he has some motor problems, his head is “very good.” Pope Benedict XVI’s example and Francis’ gestures of closeness and friendship to him are an example for all, he stressed. Finally, the new Cardinal added that Benedict XVI told him that he is “praying a lot for Venezuela.”
Cardinals of long-standing in this mission also accompanied the new Cardinals.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, mentioned how the Pope “always asks us to go to the fringes” and this is what he has done, creating Cardinal a Bishop of Papua New Guinea, a place “whose existence is unknown by many people.”
“To have a Cardinal from there – he said – is an indication of the Holy Father’s vision of the universality and catholicity of the Church.”
Regarding the Jubilee Year, which ended Sunday, the Archbishop of Boston added that “it was the most successful Holy Year I’ve experienced.” It has touched lives throughout the world, he said. “Thousands of people have returned to the Sacraments and have learned to practice mercy, forgiving one another.” It was really a huge spiritual success, he affirmed.
Another cardinal who went to Paul VI Hall was Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani , Archbishop of Lima, Peru. “It’s a great joy always to meet so united as we are with the head, with the Pope,” he commented to the press. In regard to the Jubilee Year, he said it was a “prophetic decision” of the Pope “inspired by God.” It’s “the beginning more than the end,” because now “it will bear many fruits.” We will walk in this ambit of mercy in a world that is cold and confrontational, he concluded.