Pope inducts 22 new cardinals at Vatican ceremony
VATICAN CITY POPE BENEDICT XVI on Saturday inducted 22 new cardinals or “princes” of Catholic Church, many of whom could be involved in the election to choose his successor.
Benedict placed a red hat, or biretta, on the head of each inductee and also gave them a gold ring, during the traditional consistory ceremony held in St Peter’s Basilica.
“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,” the pontiff said in his homily.
The colour red of their hats and garments served as reminder that they should be willing to demonstrate this love “even unto shedding their blood,” Benedict said.
The pontiff also cited passages in the Gospel in which Jesus told his 12 disciples of the importance of “self-giving,” and warned them that their elevation to cardinals is an “incentive to humility,” “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all,” the pontiff said quoting Jesus’ words as recorded in St Mark’s Gospel.
Eighteen of the new cardinals are under 80 years old, which means that they will be eligible to take part in the conclave that will elect the next pope.
They include clerics from India, Hong Kong, Brazil, the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Germany.
Among the new cardinals is the Bishop of Hong Kong, John Tong Hon, the Syro- Malabar Catholic Archbishop of Ernakulam- Angamaly, India George Alencherry, the Archbishop of Berlin, Rainer Maria Woelki, and Brazilian Joa Braz de Aviz, who heads the Vatican’s office for religious life.
Four inductees over the age of 80 - including three professors, from Malta, Germany and Belgium - are considered to have received “honorary” appointments, meaning that even though they will be unable to vote in a conclave, their service to the church is being recognised.
The consistory brings to 125 the number of cardinals that will be able to vote in a future conclave, if it takes place before they turn 80.
The Vatican says that the 84-year-old Benedict is in good health, despite signs of tiredness during recent public engagements.
The pontiff began Saturday’s ceremony by entering the basilica on a platform on wheels - a device used by his predecessor, the late John Paul II, during his long battle with Parkinson’s disease, and one which the current pope began using last year.
The consistory is the fourth of Benedict’s papacy, after previous editions in March 2006, November 2007 and November 2010.
Vatican observers have described the latest consistory as the least geographically diverse by Benedict.
There were no inductees from Africa and the new appointment have continued to leave the so-called global south - which besides Africa includes Latin American and Asia - where two-thirds of the world’s around 1.2 billion Catholics live, generally underrepresented in the College of Cardinals.
With the latest batch of cardinals, Benedict has also appointed seven Italians into the ranks of those eligible to vote in a conclave, increasing Italy’s share of the cardinal-electors from 22 per cent to 25.