ROME (AP) – Pope Francis on Saturday elevated 13 new cardinals to the highest rank in the Catholic hierarchy and immediately warned them not to use their titles for corrupt, personal gain, presiding over the ceremony from the beginning to the end of the coronavirus epidemic.
The two new “princes” of the church, from Brunei and the Philippines, did not reach Rome due to the travel restrictions of COVID-19, although they were shown on huge screens while watching from home in the almost empty St. Peter’s Basilica. During the socially demarcated ceremony, which took place in an unusually fast 45 minutes, new and old cardinals wore protective masks.
Most removed their masks when they turned to an unmasked Francis to get their red cap, but Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the first African-American cardinal, remained on it. Gregory was the only new cardinal to wear a mask when the group singer made a courtesy visit to retired Pope Benedict XVI.
In his homily, Francis warned the new cardinals of falling corruption or using their new rank for personal development, saying that just because they are given a new title, “Eminence,” does not mean they should drift away from their people.
His remarks reflected Francis’ constant complaint about the arrogance of the clerical class and the current struggles against corruption in the Vatican hierarchy.
“Think of so many kinds of corruption in the life of the priesthood,” Francis told the new cardinals, deviating from the text he had prepared. If you think of yourself so magnificently, “You will not be a pastor near people, you will only be an‘ Eminence ’. And if you feel that way, you have deviated from the path, ”the pope warned.
The ceremony, known as the Consistory, is the seventh day of Francis’s pontificate, which once again reflects the Argentine Pope’s efforts to nominate cardinals from places he has never had before or for whom he wishes to highlight the ministry of the Church. Nine under the age of 80 and fit to vote in a conclave for the election of a new pope, further consolidating the majority of voting-age prelates appointed by Francis at the College of Cardinals.
Gregory, Washington’s new archbishop, told the Associated Press before the ceremony that he sees his appointment as “a confirmation of black Catholics in the United States, a legacy of faith and fidelity that we represent”.
Gregory’s appointment came after a year of racial protest in the United States that was last killed by a black man by a white police officer. Francis supported the protests and cited the American history of racial injustices.
“He is now aware of the need for racial reconciliation, an awareness I have not seen at this level and with such intensity,” Gregory said.
Another cardinal thinking about social justice is the retired Archbishop of Chiapas, Mexico, Cardinal Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, who supported the rights of the natives of Mexico and led efforts to translate the Bible and liturgical texts into native languages.
Francis visited Chiapas in 2016 and has long supported the rights of indigenous peoples. “It could be one of the reasons (made cardinal), but I can’t confirm it,” Zoom said with Esquivel during the call.
The Vatican’s in-house theologian-preacher, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, also received a red hat, but also successfully argued against becoming bishop, saying he could not take responsibility at the age of 86. During the Saturday ceremony, he also avoided a red elf, instead wearing a brown hooded frater robe with a white “rochet” dress.
After the ceremony, Francis and the new cardinals visited Benedict, who lives beyond the gardens of the Vatican in a converted convent. Francis, again a sans mask, greeted his predecessor warmly. The cardinals greeted Benedict, kissing hands and singing prayers while the retired pope, 93 years old and weak, listened. Only Gregory and another new cardinal wore the mask during the encounter.
The ceremony took place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 epidemic, which erupted in Italy in February and revived this fall. The Vatican is under modified closure, Vatican Museums will be closed and Francis ’public audience will be deleted. Instead, he keeps them live, live.
Cardinal candidates and others who arrived remotely in Rome for Saturday worship had to go through a 10-day quarantine ordered by the Vatican at the pope’s hotel, where the food was taken to their room.
Usually, the consistories are full of parties and crowds, day-long receptions, Masses, and dinners for new cardinals and their friends. The consistory itself is usually followed by “courtesy visits,” where new cardinals greet the well-wishers and the general public from the grandeur of their own reception rooms in the Apostolic Palace or the Vatican Lecture Hall. There were no courtesy visits this year, and each cardinal was given a limit of 10 guests.
With Saturday’s new cardinals, Francis named 73 of the 128 cardinals of his election age, while XVI. Pope Benedict 39, II. St. John Paul is 16. While the outcome of a future conclave can never be predicted, this is not a stage that would suggest that the vast majority of voters today presumably share the pastoral and doctrinal attitudes of the pope who names them.
The geographical structure of the College of Cardinals has also shifted from Europe under Francis, although Europe remains the largest constituency with 53 voters. In America – North, Central and South, and the Caribbean – there are a total of 37 cardinal voters, despite an estimated 40% of the Catholic world living in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Francis continued the tendency to name cardinals after the “peripheries” of the Catholic Church: Brunei received his first cardinal with Cardinal Cornelius Sim, the Vatican’s ambassador to the country.
He also received Rwanda’s only cardinal from the Archbishop of Kigali, Antoine Kambanda, whose family was slaughtered during the Rwandan genocide. Kambanda traveled to Rome for the ceremony, Sin stayed home due to the limitations of COVID-19.
The first Jesuit pope in history also increased the number of cardinals belonging to religious orders, and this year named three Franciscans in the year the pope, who named himself after St. Francis of Assisi, issued an encyclical inspired by the saint’s call. brotherhood and solidarity with the weakest.