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Pope Francis to New Cardinals: Everything Hinges on Love

Vincenzo Pinto/ AFP
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Pontiff addresses 20 new red-hats at consistory ceremony attended by Benedict XVI.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis today created 20 new cardinals from across the globe in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica. In presenting the red beretta and golden ring to 20 new Princes of the Church, the Pope reminded them of the pivotal role a cardinal plays in determining how and in what manner the Church moves. He also reminded the new red-hats that, in their new office, everything hinges on love.

“The cardinalate is certainly an honor, but it is not honorific,” Pope Francis told the prelates on Saturday morning’s consistory ceremony.

“This we already know from its name – ‘cardinal’ – from the word cardo, [Latine for] a hinge. As such it is not a kind of accessory, a decoration, like an honorary title. Rather, it is a pivot, a point of support and movement essential for the life of the community. You are ‘hinges’ and are ‘incardinated’ in the Church of Rome, which ‘presides over the entire assembly of charity.’”

Reflecting on the great “hymn to charity” in Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Pope Francis identified the traits of love, and called the new cardinals to be patient, kind, respectful, and docile, just and captivated by truth.

“The greater our responsibility in serving the Church, the more our hearts must expand according to the measure of the heart of Christ,” Pope Francis said.

“Patience” – “forbearance” – is in some sense synonymous with catholicity. It means being able to love without limits, but also to be faithful in particular situations and with practical gestures. It means loving what is great without neglecting what is small; loving the little things within the horizon of the great.”

He then warned the newly elevated prelates, through the power of divine charity, not to succumb to temptations to being self-centered, arrogant, rude, jealous, boastful, irritable, or resentful.

“Even here, charity, and charity alone, frees us,” he said. “Above all, it frees us from the mortal danger of pent-up anger, of that smoldering anger which makes us brood over wrongs we have received. No. This is unacceptable in a man of the Church.”

“This is surely a miracle of love,” he insisted, “since we humans – all of us, at every stage of our lives – are inclined to jealousy and pride, since our nature is wounded by sin.

"Nor are Church dignitaries immune from this temptation,” he added. “But for this very reason, dear brothers, the divine power of love, which transforms hearts, can be all the more evident in us, so that it is no longer you who live, but rather Christ who lives in you. And Jesus is love to the fullest.”

Finally, Pope Francis called the new cardinals to be well-oiled hinges by being docile to the unction of God’s Spirit, who alone enables them to live up to their call to the love the Church to the shedding of their blood.

Pope Francis again demonstrated his desire that the Church "go to the peripheries" in his choice of the 20 new prelates, 15 of whom will one day vote for his successor in the next conclave. He also elevated cardinals in countries that had never had one, such as Tonga, Myanmar, and Cape Verde.

The new cardinals were joined at Saturday's consistory ceremony by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was seated in the front row and appeared in good health and spirits.

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia's English edition.

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