Pope names 22 new cardinals to advise him and name his successor
Italian majority in consistory; Cardinal Dolan said to be 'papabile'
Pope Benedict XVI has elavated 22 Bishops to Cardinal. They will be among his closest advisors and be numbered among those who will elect his successor. The selection retains an Italian majority, but U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan has been called by the Italian media as an improbable 'papabile," having the qualities of a future pope.
Pope Benedict XVI places a red biretta, a four-cornered clerical hat, on the head of new Cardinal George Alencherry of India during a Consistory ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 18, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI installed 22 new Roman Catholic Cardinals
Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivered a highly praised speech on spreading the faith.
"He certainly is going to be given many responsibilities as a cardinal," Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, the other American on the consistory. When the outgoing archbishop of Baltimore was asked if he thought Dolan had the stuff to be pope, he replied "His mother thinks so."
Twenty-two churchmen got their red hats this weekend. They include archbishops of Prague, Toronto, Florence, Utrecht and Hong Kong as well as the heads of several Vatican offices.
Seven of the 22 were Italian, adding to the eight voting-age Italian cardinals named at the last consistory in November 2010. Italy will have 30 cardinals out of the 125 under age 80 who will be eligible to vote in a future conclave.
This increases Italy's chances of taking back the papacy after decades under a Polish and a German pope. The U.S. comes in second with 12 cardinals under 80.
Pope Benedict called attention to the fact that the red color of the three-pointed hat, or biretta, and the scarlet cassock that cardinals wear, symbolizes the blood that cardinals must be willing to shed to remain faithful to the church.
"The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for his church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters even unto shedding their blood, if necessary," Benedict said.
Cardinal Dolan's keynote address to cardinals and the pope was peppered with jokes, references to books, films and his own experiences as archbishop in New York, Milwaukee and as rector of the U.S. seminary in Rome.
"Holy Father, can you omit the 'shedding of your blood' when you present me with the biretta?" Dolan asked the pope. "Of course not! We are but 'scarlet audio-visual aids' for all of our brothers and sisters also called to be ready to suffer and die for Jesus."
Giving Dolan enthusiastic thumbs up, his colleagues called his speech "enthusiastic, joyful and profound." After Benedict gave Dolan his skullcap, biretta and ring, Dolan said that the pope "thanked me again for yesterday, which meant a lot. He did have a little trouble getting the ring on the finger, which was a little embarrassing."
Preparations for the ceremony were clouded by talk of internal documents alleging financial mismanagement in Vatican affairs. There have also been reports in the Italian media of political jockeying among church officials who, sensing an increasingly weak and aging pontiff, are already preparing for a conclave.
However, the beauty of the service and the strong message of the Pope and the new Cardinal Archbishop from New Yor put it all in perspective. The Catholic Church is strong and ready for a new missionary age.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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