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POPE-CONSISTORY Nov-24-2007 (1,020 words) With photos. xxxi

Pope creates 23 cardinals from 14 countries

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a liturgy that emphasized the church's cultural diversity and its unity of mission, Pope Benedict XVI created 23 new cardinals from 14 countries.

The group included U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley, grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

The pope, presiding over his second consistory, told the new cardinals he had chosen them to be the "closest advisers and collaborators" of his ministry in Rome, the church's traditional center.

At the same time, he said, the cardinals' geographical variety reflects Catholicism's global expansion and the fact that today the church "speaks every language of the world."

International groups of pilgrims who packed St. Peter's Basilica for the Nov. 24 consistory added emphasis to the pope's words, applauding, cheering, ululating and even waving national flags when the new cardinals' names were announced.

The pope made a special appeal for peace in Iraq and said his naming of Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad, the Chaldean patriarch, was a sign of his closeness to the country's Christian population.

"They are experiencing in their own flesh the dramatic consequences of an enduring conflict and now live in a fragile and delicate political situation," the pope said.

"Together we want to reaffirm the solidarity of the entire church with the Christians of that beloved land and ask prayers for the beginning of the hoped-for reconciliation for all the peoples involved," he said.

During the consistory, each cardinal knelt as the pope placed on his head a red three-cornered hat, called a biretta. The pope told them the color was not only a sign of the cardinal's dignity, but also a visible reminder of their readiness to act with courage "even to the point of shedding your blood" in order to help spread the Christian faith.

Cardinal Delly, 80, received the biggest applause when he approached the altar to receive his red hat; the pope gave him the classic round hat of a Chaldean patriarch instead of a biretta.

Pope Benedict, wearing a gold cape and seated on a gilded throne, smiled as he watched the cardinals adjust their hats and receive the congratulations of the veteran cardinals, who filled the front of the basilica.

Cardinal Foley, a 72-year-old native of Philadelphia, spent many years as a Catholic journalist before being named to head the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in 1984. In June he was made head of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, a chivalric organization that responds to the needs of Catholics in the Holy Land.

Meeting reporters afterward, Cardinal Foley said he appreciated the great number of warm and positive articles about him in recent days.

"It's nice to be canonized without the inconvenience of dying," he quipped.

Cardinal DiNardo, 58, was the second-youngest of the new cardinals. He is the first cardinal from a Texas diocese, and his nomination was considered a sign of Pope Benedict's attention to the growth of the Catholic Church in the U.S. Southwest.

"It's an honor, a responsibility and pretty humbling for this kid from Pittsburgh," Cardinal DiNardo said of his elevation to the rank of cardinal.

Besides the U.S. and Iraq, other new cardinals came from Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Northern Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Poland, Senegal and Spain.

Of the 23 new cardinals, 18 were under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. Those over 80 included Franciscan Cardinal Umberto Betti, 85, who processed into the basilica in a wheelchair; when he was given his red hat by the pope, whom he has known for more than 40 years, he appeared to be overwhelmed with emotion.

The consistory left the College of Cardinals with 201 members, a new record. Of those, 120 are under age 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.

In his sermon, the pope underlined that being a cardinal was not about power and success, but a new form of service.

"True Christian greatness, in fact, lies not in dominating but in serving," he said. This is the ideal that should guide the cardinals in their new role, he said.

Each of the new cardinals was assigned a church in Rome as a symbol that they were becoming members of the clergy of Rome and were more closely bound to the bishop of Rome, the pope.

Cardinal Foley was given the Church of St. Sebastian on the Palatine Hill. Cardinal DiNardo received the Church of St. Eusebius, one of the city's oldest churches, on the Esquiline Hill.

The consistory liturgy had been planned for St. Peter's Square, but was moved inside the basilica when bad weather was forecast. The overflow of several thousand people had to watch the consistory on big TV screens in the square. The crowd included a visitor from Houston who held a U.S. flag on a long pole.

In the end, it did not rain during the consistory. The pope walked out to the steps of the basilica afterward and extemporized a talk to those who waited outside.

Among those in the square was a large contingent from Senegal -- many of them now living in Italy -- who came to cheer Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar. They wore T-shirts with the cardinal's name and picture on the front and the phrase, "Where can we go, Lord?" written on the back in French.

Alphonse Mendy, a native of Dakar, said the nomination was especially important for the African country because it put the spotlight on the minority Catholic population in a country that is more than 90 percent Muslim.

After the consistory, the cardinals scattered to various receptions throughout the day, including a big open house held in the late afternoon in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

The following day, the pope was to celebrate Mass with the new cardinals and give them each a gold ring to symbolize their special bond of communion with Rome.

The day before the consistory, the pope presided over a meeting with cardinals and cardinals-designate for discussions that focused on the state of the church's ecumenical dialogues.

- - -

Contributing to this story were Cindy Wooden and Carol Glatz.


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