Cardinals From 14 Countries, Including India, Receive Red Hat From PopeBy Gerard O'Connell, Special Correspondent in Rome
(Archbishop Oswald Gracias Receiving the Cardinal's biretta (hat) from the Holy Father Benedict XVI)
In all, the 80-year-old pope created 23 cardinals from 14 countries in his second consistory: 13 from Europe, four from Latin America, two from Africa, two from Asia (India and Iraq) and two from North America (excluding Mexico). But only 18 of the 23 are cardinal-electors, under the age of 80, with the right to vote in a papal election.
In his homily, after the liturgy of the word and before conferring the red hats, the theologian-pope said the composition of the College of Cardinals, which now has 201 members from 70 countries, "reflects well the universality, the catholicity of the Church." The new cardinals had served the Church faithfully over many years, and were now "called to even greater responsibility, in the closest communion with the bishop of Rome," he added.
Pope Benedict observed that the communities the new cardinals represent face various trials and challenges. He made particular mention of looking "with apprehension and affection" to the Christian communities in Iraq, which are "experiencing in their own flesh the dramatic consequences of an ongoing war" and living in "a very fragile and delicate political situation."
The pope said he wanted "to express in a concrete way my spiritual closeness and my affect for those populations" by making Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly of the Chaldean Church, who heads the largest Christian community in Iraq, a cardinal.
His words provoked thunderous applause in St. Peter's Basilica. Everyone clapped again, and someone waved an Iraqi flag, when he placed the specially designed round, black hat with a broad red band on the head of the 80-year-old patriarch instead of the red beretta.
This came after the homily, and after the new cardinals made a profession of faith and took the oath of loyalty and obedience to the pope and his successors. They then went up to the pope, one by one, and knelt before him as he placed the hat signifying the office and dignity of cardinal on the head of each.
The congregation of 9,000 in the brightly lit basilica included more than 1,000 Asians, several hundred of them Indians. They applauded loudly when Pope Benedict gave the red beretta to Cardinal Gracias making him a member of the select group of 120 cardinal-electors.
Many had come from India especially for the occasion, mostly relatives and friends of the new cardinal, but the vast majority of Indians present were clergy, Religious, novices and seminarians working or studying in Rome.
Two other Indian cardinals -- Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, were seated among the 143 scarlet-robed cardinals from 70 countries in front of the basilica's high altar. Other Asian cardinals were present from China (Hong Kong), Japan, Korea the Philippines and Vietnam. About 50 cardinals did not attend for reasons of health or advanced age.
Cardinal Gracias, smiling broadly, briefly thanked the pope for this great honor and responsibility.
The pope, as bishop of Rome, traditionally assigns a titular church in his diocese to each new cardinal. He gave Cardinal Gracias the Church of San Paolo della Croce a "Corviale."
That same afternoon, following another old tradition, many thousands went to the Vatican to greet the new cardinals individually. The Indians and many others greeted Cardinal Gracias in the Hall of Blessings.
The following day, Sunday Nov. 25, Pope Benedict led Mass in St Peter's Basilica with the new cardinals as concelebrants and gave each the cardinal's ring, described by the Vatican as "the sign of dignity, pastoral care and the most solid communion with the See of Peter."
After urging them to proclaim Christ "with humility and without arrogance or pride" to all humanity, he reminded them that their "first and principal mission" is to "pray for peace and unity" so the Church may be "solid and compact" and "a sign and instrument of unity for the whole human race."
Reproduced by Konkani Catholics with permission from UCA News (http://www.ucanews.com/)