Church leaders called to preserve tradition, pope tells new cardinalsBy: Cindy Wooden Vatican City
Leaders and members of the Catholic Church do not have the authority to determine its teaching and structure but are called to ensure its fidelity to Jesus and to the faith passed on by the apostles, Pope Benedict XVI told the 22 new cardinals he created.
“The Church is not self-regulating, she does not determine her own structure, but receives it from the word of God, to which she listens in faith as she seeks to understand it and to live it,” the pope said in a homily Feb. 19 during a Mass concelebrated with the new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The College of Cardinals was expanded Feb. 18, and the new members included Card. Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Card. Edwin F. O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and former archbishop of Baltimore; and Card. Thomas C. Collins of Toronto.
The family, friends, and pilgrims accompanying the new cardinals arrived at St. Peter’s extra early after many of them missed the consistory Feb. 18 because the basilica was full. While they waited for Mass to begin, they joined in the recitation of the rosary in Latin.
The Mass marked the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a liturgical solemnity focused on the authority Jesus entrusted to his apostles. The feast usually is celebrated Feb. 22 but was early because Ash Wednesday falls on that date this year.
The basilica’s bronze statue of St. Peter, with its foot worn smooth by centuries of pilgrims’ caresses, was draped with red and gold liturgical vestments for the feast day.
To illustrate his homily, the pope used another artwork, Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s towering sculpture of the Chair of St. Peter, which is topped by the Holy Spirit window in the basilica’s apse.
The Catholic Church is like a window into which the light of truth shines and through which a response of love should radiate, he said.
“The Church herself is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where he comes toward our world,” the pope said.
Bernini’s sculpture features a large throne, which symbolizes the authority Jesus gave to St. Peter, supported by four ancient Church theologians—two doctors of the Church from the East and two from the West, representing the unity and diversity within the universal church, he said.
The support of the theologians also “teaches us that love rests upon faith. Love collapses if man no longer trusts in God and disobeys him,” the pope said.
“Everything in the Church rests upon faith: the sacraments, the liturgy, evangelization, charity,” as well as “the law and the Church’s authority,” he said.
Catholics cannot make things up as they go along, he said. They must follow tradition, the sacred Scriptures and the teaching of the apostles, explained and interpreted by the fathers of the Church and the popes.
All the Church teaches and does in the world must be motivated by love and lead to love, the pope said.
“A selfish faith would be an unreal faith,” Pope Benedict said.
“Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist discovers true joy and becomes capable, in turn, of living according to the logic of gift,” he said.
Like the basilica’s Holy Spirit window with its radiating golden rays, “God is not isolation, but glorious and joyful love, spreading outward and radiant with light,” the pope told the new cardinals.
Entrusted with God’s love, every Christian—and, particularly, each of the Church’s cardinals—has a duty to share it with others, he said.
The altar servers at the Mass were seminarians from the Pontifical North American College, the US seminary in Rome where Card. O’Brien and Card. Dolan both had served as rector before being named bishops.
At the beginning of the Mass, Italian Card. Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, thanked the pope on behalf of all the new cardinals.
Acknowledging the different nationalities and ministries of the new cardinals, Card. Filoni said, “We are united by one faith in Christ, love for the Church, fidelity to the pope, and a deep awareness of the real and serious needs of humanity.”
The cardinal also thanked the family members present at the Mass, several of whom brought the offertory gifts to the pope. Card. Filoni said every vocation, including the new cardinals’ vocations to the priesthood, is born within a family or other community and nurtured by the faith of others.
Pope Benedict met the new cardinals and their family and friends again Feb. 20 in the more informal setting of an audience.
He asked the family and friends to support the new cardinals with even more prayers, to listen to them more carefully and “be united with them and among yourselves in faith and charity in order to be even more fervid and courageous witnesses of Christ.”
At the end of the audience, each of the new cardinals presented two members of their entourage to the pope. Card. Collins introduced his sisters, Catherine and Patricia, to the pope and Card. O’Brien presented two longtime friends from New York, Patricia Dillon and Patricia Handal.
After Card. Dolan introduced his mother, Shirley Dolan, 83, to the pope, Pope Benedict told her, “You look too young to be a cardinal’s mother,” the cardinal said. “I told him, ‘I hope that’s an infallible statement.’”
“Let’s face it,” Card. Dolan said, “it’s somewhat rare that a cardinal can introduce his mother to the pope.” The average age of the 213 members of the College of Cardinals is over 75.
Card. Dolan also presented Vincenza Mustaciuolo to the pope. She is the mother of Msgr. Greg Mustaciuolo, chancellor of the New York Archdiocese. The monsignor is one of the cardinal’s closest aides, and his mother had never met the pope, the cardinal said.