In the Vatican Basilica [Friday] morning, Benedict XVI celebrated his second Ordinary Public Consistory, during which he created 23 new cardinals.
Following the opening liturgical greeting, the Holy Father read the formula of creation and solemnly proclaimed the names of the new cardinals. The first of them, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, then thanked the Pope in the name of all the others.
After a Gospel reading, the Holy Father pronounced his homily.
The College of Cardinals, he said, recreates "the ancient 'presbyterium' of the bishop of Rome, the members of which, while carrying out their pastoral and liturgical functions in the various Churches, ensured [the Pope] did not lack their precious collaboration in carrying out the duties associated with his universal apostolic ministry.
"Times have changed," Pope Benedict added, "and the great family of Christ's disciples has today spread to every continent, … it speaks almost every language of the world and its members include people from all cultures. The diversity of the members of the College of Cardinals, in terms of both geographical and cultural background, serves to underline this providential growth, at the same time highlighting the changing pastoral requirements to which the Pope is called to respond."
Benedict XVI reminded the cardinals that each one of them "represents a portion of the mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church in every corner of the earth." Referring then to the communities entrusted to their care, he made particular mention of "those most tried by suffering, challenges and difficulties of various kinds" and especially "the dear Christian communities of Iraq."
Iraqi Christians, he went on, "experience in their own flesh the dramatic consequences of enduring conflict, and are currently living in an extremely fragile and delicate political situation. By calling the Chaldean patriarch to enter the College of Cardinals, I have sought to give concrete expression to my spiritual closeness and affection for those peoples. Together let us reaffirm the solidarity of the entire Church towards Christians in that dear land, and invite people to call upon merciful God for … the advent of reconciliation and peace."
Commenting then on the Gospel of St. Mark which relates how "ambition caused the sons of Zebedee to claim for themselves the best positions in the kingdom of the Messiah," the Holy Father emphasized how "all true disciples of Christ aspire to just one thing: sharing His passion without seeking any reward. Christians are called to assume the status of 'servant,' following Jesus' footsteps, in other words to give their lives for others freely and disinterestedly.
"Not the search for power and success but the humble giving of self for the good of the Church must characterize our every gesture and word," he added. "True Christian greatness, in fact, does not consist of domination but of service."
"Be apostles of God, Who is Love, and witnesses of evangelical hope. This is what Christian people expect from you," the Pope concluded. "Christ calls on you to confess His truth before mankind, to embrace and to share His cause, and to do all this … with that inner humility which is the result of cooperation with the grace of God."
At the end of the homily the new cardinals made the profession of faith before the people of God, swearing their faithfulness and obedience to the Pope and his successors.
One by one, in the order in which they were created, the new cardinals then came and knelt before the Holy Father who imposed the red "biretta" or hat and assigned them a titular or diaconate church in Rome as a sign of their participation in the Pope's pastoral concern for the city.
The Pope gave each new cardinal his Bull of Creation and exchanged an embrace of peace with them. The cardinals then exchanged the same embrace with each other
The celebration concluded with the prayer of the faithful, the recitation of the Our Father and the final blessing.