VATICAN CITY – On Saturday, 19 Nov 2016, Pope Francis handed a red hat to 17 new cardinals including one Malaysian, warning them against the danger of falling into polemics and animosity and encouraging them to be close to their people, imitating God’s mercy.
“Ours is an age of grave global problems and issues. We live at a time in which polarisation and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts,” the pope said.
“We come from distant lands; we have different traditions, skin colour, languages and social backgrounds; we think differently and we celebrate our faith in a variety of rites,” Francis said, adding that “none of this makes us enemies; instead, it is one of our greatest riches.”
Pope Francis spoke to 16 of the 17 bishops and priests he tapped to get a red hat last month, the only absentee being Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai, OMI, Emeritus of Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho, for health reasons.
Coming from 11 nations and five continents, the new cardinals represent the Pope’s vision of having a broader, more universal representation of the Church.
In his homily, Francis pointed to the day’s Gospel from Luke, in which Jesus tells his disciples to “set out” and go to the plains to meet the people, rather than staying on top of the mountain.
“The Lord thus shows the Apostles, and ourselves, that the true heights are reached on the plain, while the plain reminds us that the heights are found in a gaze and above all in a call: Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful,” he said.
He then pointed to four “exhortations” which he said mould the vocation of the apostles “through real, everyday situation,” which he named as to “love, do good, bless and pray.”
After the consistory, Pope Francis and the new cardinals took two buses and stopped by the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monestary to pay a visit to retired Pope Benedict XVI, who was not present at the ceremony.
Those of voting age include:Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis and Bishop Kevin Farrell, prefect of the new Congregation for Laity, Family and Life; Archbishop Mario Zenari, who is and will remain apostolic nuncio to the “beloved and martyred” Syria; Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui; Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid; Archbishop Sergio da Rocha of Brazil; Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dakha, Bangladesh; Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela; Archbishop Joseph de Kesel of Malines Brussels; Bishop Maurice Piat of Port-Louis, Mauritius Island; Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico and Archbishop John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
In addition to the 13 new electoral cardinals, Francis has nominated four others who are of non-voting age due to their notable service to the Church: Anthony Soter Fernandez, Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Renato Corti, Archbishop Emeritus of Novara and Sebastian Koto Khoarai, OMI, Bishop Emeritus of Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho.
Additionally, he nominated Fr Ernest Simoni, an Albanian priest from the diocese of Shkodra, whose testimony of the persecution of the Albanian Church under the communist regime the Pope cried at during his 2014 daytrip to the country.
The consistory was the third of Pope Francis’ pontificate, the most recent of which took place last year on Valentine’s Day. With the 17 new cardinal-elects included, the number of voting cardinals comes to 121, and the number of non-voters to 107, for a grand total of 228. – CNA/EWTN News