VATICAN CITY (CNS) — On Saturday, August 28, a double consistory was held at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In the first, Pope Francis created twenty new Cardinals, some from Rome but most from the far reaches of the world. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, began his remarks with the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke that “pierce us like an arrow! ‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!’” Throughout, Pope Francis continued with the theme and image of a “consuming fire” and “passionate love that purifies, regenerates and transfigures all things.”
Among the new Cardinals, sixteen are below the age of 80 and will most likely be electors for the next pope. Three of the men serve in Vatican dicasteries and another is a Jesuit, formerly the rector of the Gregorian University and the only one who is not a bishop. What characterizes this group of Cardinals is their relative youth (many are in their 50s and 60s and two are 48: a Salesian, Cardinal Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva, Archbishop of Dili, East Timor and the other is the Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Bishop Giorgio Marengo, a Consolata missionary) and the far-flung local churches at the peripheries they represent.
For the first time, Paraguay, Singapore, East Timor, and Mongolia will be represented among the College of Cardinals. One new Cardinal, Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr of the Diocese of Wa, Ghana, was unable to be present due to health problems.
Cardinal Robert W. McElroy, Bishop of San Diego, CA, is the only new Cardinal from North America. His 96-year-old mother in California followed the proceedings, including a beautiful liturgy on Sunday evening, August 28, at the Parish of St. Patrick near the U.S. Embassy, cared for by the Paulist Fathers, serving Americans visiting and living in Rome. The evening before a reception was held at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, hosted by Ambassador Joseph L. Donnelly and Mrs. Jill Donnelly.
The 90-minute ceremony included a reading from scripture, the Holy Father solemnly created the new Cardinals, noting that their elevation “chiefly concerns the Church of Rome, but it also affects the entire ecclesial community”, that they are to be “fearless witnesses to Christ and His Gospel in the City of Rome and in faraway regions.” Each new Cardinal recited the Nicene Creed and took an oath of fidelity to Christ, the Gospel, obedience to the Church and “to Blessed Peter in the person of the Supreme Pontiff.”
The oath included a promise to work closely with. Pope Francis and his “canonically elected successors, always to remain in communion with the Catholic Church in my words and actions, not to make known to anyone matters made known to me in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonor to Holy Church ….”
Immediately following, a second Consistory was held in which the Holy Father decreed that Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, Bishop of Piacenza, Italy for over 25 years and founders of the Missionaries of St Charles and Missionary Sisters of St Charles, known as the Scalabrinian fathers and sisters, and Artimide Zatti, a professed religious of the Salesians of Don Bosco, are “worthy of being proposed for veneration for the whole Church” and are to be enrolled among the saints sometime during 2022.
The Scalabrini’s are active in the United States and 31 other countries serving migrants and refugees. Zatti was a pharmacist and a missionary to Argentina who died in 1951. Pope Francis, as Cardinal Jorge Mario Borgoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, inaugurated and one month later in May 1998 closed the investigation into the first miracle attributed to him, leading to Zatti’s beatification in 2002.