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Pope's charge to 22 new cardinals: 'preside in love'

Catholic World News - February 20, 2012

After elevating 22 new members to the College of Cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI told the new cardinals that to be a leader in the Church means to “preside in love.”

The Holy Father conferred red hats on the 22 new cardinals at a consistory on Saturday, February 18. On Sunday the new cardinals joined him to concelebrate Mass, and on Monday he held private audiences with them and their families.

All 22 of the prelates named by the Pope on January 6 to become cardinals participated in the February ceremony. Earlier in the month the Vatican had announced that Cardinal-designate Joseph Becker, an elderly Jesuit scholar, would not be able to attend the consistory because of ill health. But Cardinal Becker was on hand to receive his red hat.

As he made the formal announcement of their new status, Pope Benedict said that the cardinals, who received the title to churches in Rome or the suburban diocese, “are fully inserted in the Church of Rome led by the Successor of Peter, in order to cooperate closely with him in governing the universal Church.” Reflecting on the meaning of that governance, the Pope said that it is “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, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the color of their robes.”

At the Sunday Mass concelebrated with the new cardinals, the Pope returned to the theme of service, reflecting on the role that the Chair of Peter plays in the universal Church. Citing the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch, he said that the role of Christian leadership is to “preside in charity.” This, the Pope explained, means “to draw men and women into a Eucharistic embrace--the embrace of Christ--which surpasses every barrier and every division, creating communion from all manner of differences.”

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