Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday created 22 New Cardinals from
around the world at a solemn Consistory in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Among the new
princes of the Church is Major Archbishop George Alencherry of
Ernakulam-Angamaly of India.
During the consistory, meaning the gathering of Cardinals with the Pope for a
specific purpose, created the new cardinals and gave each the cardinal's
biretta and the ring and assigned a titular church.
In his homily the Pontiff
urged the Cardinals to be united with new and stronger bonds not only to the
Roman Pontiff but also to the entire community of the faithful spread
throughout the world.
Reflecting on the meaning of authority in the context of
the Gospel of Mark, the Pope said that Jesus offered the disciples himself as
the model of service and self-giving, when the sons of Zebedee James and John
looked for glory. He said that dominion and service, egoism and altruism,
possession and gift, self-interest and gratuitousness: these profoundly
contrasting approaches confront each other in every age and place.
the practical path indicating to the disciples that the Son of man came not to
be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. With the
placing of the red biretta 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.
Cardinals are to serve the Church with love and vigour, with the transparency
and wisdom of teachers, with the energy and strength of shepherds, with the
fidelity and courage of martyrs. Pope Benedict hoped that Christ’s total gift
of self on the Cross be for them the foundation, stimulus and strength of a
faith operative in charity. Their mission in the Church and the world always be
“in Christ” alone, responding to his logic and not that of the world, and may
it be illumined by faith and animated by charity which comes to us from the
glorious Cross of the Lord.
With the creation of 22 new cardinals on Feb. 18, the number of cardinals worldwide now stands at 213, of whom 125 being under the age of 80, are eligible to vote in an eventual conclave for the election of a new Pope. Eighty-eight cardinals are above the age of 80 and hence are not eligible to vote in a conclave.
Benedict XVI has created 84 cardinals so far in the four consistories since being elected Pontiff in 2005. The current members of the College of Cardinals come from seventy-one states, distributed as follows: Europe 119, North America (U.S.A. and Canada) 21, Latin America 32, Africa 17, Asia 20 and Oceania 4.