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Elevating 6 non-European cardinals, Pope reflects on Church's universal mission

November 26, 2012

As he elevated 6 new members to the College of Cardinals on November 24, Pope Benedict XVI remarked that the Catholic Church pursues a universal mission, serving all mankind.

At the consistory, the Pope bestowed red hats on:

  • Archbishop James Michael Harvey, the American-born prelate who has been prefect of the papal household since 1998, who was formally appointed last week as archpriest of the Vatican basilica of St. St. Paul Outside-the-Walls;
  • Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rai, head of the Maronite Catholic Church since 2011;
  • Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis (Isaac) Thottunkal, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church since 2007;
  • Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja (Nigeria);
  • Archbishop Jesús Salazar Gómez of Bogota; and
  • Archbishop Luís Antonio Tagle of Manila.

As each new cardinal knelt before him, the Pontiff reminded him that his red vestments symbolized that he “must ready to conduct yourselves with fortitude, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and well-being of the people of God.”

In his homily, the Pope emphasized the universal mission of the Church, noting that all of the new cardinals are from countries outside Europe. The Pontiff remarked that the term “catholic” itself refers to that universal mission. "Jesus sends his Church not to a single group, then, but to the whole human race, and thus He unites it, in faith, in one people, in order to save it.” The Catholic Church, the Pope said, “is the Church of Pentecost: amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God.”

On Sunday, November 25, the Pope concelebrated Mass with the new cardinals. In his homily—reflecting on the day’s feast of Christ the King—the Holy Father said: “The kingdom of God is a kingdom utterly different from earthly kingdoms.” Stressing that Jesus voluntarily made Himself vulnerable, and seemingly helpless in the face of earthly powers, the Pope said that the Church exists to serve, following Christ’s model. He encouraged the new cardinals to imitate Jesus in “loving to the utmost, giving His own life for those whom He loves.”

On Monday morning, November 26, the Pope met in a private audience with the new cardinals and their families, and again urged them to serve the universal Church as “a sign of hope for all peoples.”

With the elevation of the 6 new cardinals, the College of Cardinals now has 211 living members, of whom 120 are under the age of 80 and thus eligible to participate in a papal conclave.


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