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Thousands of pilgrims visit the Vatican to greet the new cardinals

2014-02-24

The quiet Apostolic Palace looked like this on Saturday evening: hundreds of people went there to greet the new Cardinals and congratulate them. No wonder the Prelates were the target of flashes.

The Vatican's Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, took up all the attention. A large crowd surrounded him in the Sala Regia, where he smiled, both at greeting and gifts. He shared the room with Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.

Cardinals Gerhard Muller and Beniamino Stella  were also at Apostolic Palace in the Sala Ducale. They also got their share of congratulations.

Six of the 19 new Cardinals are from Latin America. Among them, the successor to the Pope as archbishop of Buenos Aires, and close assistant of Cardinal Bergoglio for years.

CARD. MARIO AURELIO POLI
"I'm very happy that I was so close to the Pope and saw him so well, with his spirit of service to the Church. And then meeting with the rest of the Cardinals was a very moving experience. I found myself in the middle of council of wisemen, so to speak. And found a really warm brotherhood among them.”

And following Argentina, there's Chile. Cardinal Ezzati Andrello was also greeted by many.

CARD. RICARDO EZZATI ANDRELLO
"I'm happy and glad, in the Lord's hands and also ready to help with the task the Holy Father gave us. He asked for our humble and efficient collaboration. So, I hope I can do both: humbleness and efficiency, so that I may give the help he asked for.”

Spanish Cardinal Fernando Sebastián, one of the three emeritus prelates created by Pope Francis, was also very thankful.

CARD. FERNANDO SEBASTIÁN
"The Pope's words encouraged me to give everything till my very last breath for the service of the Church and the Lord. The Pope told us: 'The Church needs you, all of you, and we have to be there!'”

Experienced Cardinals also greeted the recently created ones. To some, their meeting gave them a chance to remember good moments.

CARD. ANTONIO MARÍA ROUCO VARELA
"The Pope's words were really comforting, both to those Cardinals created today and to those who, like me, have been Cardinals for quite a  while. In fact, today's my 16 anniversary as a Cardinal.”

Not everything were greetings and congratulations. Some Cardinals were still amazed by the presence of Pope Benedict XVI in the ceremony.
 
CARD. PÉTER ERDO 
"It was a very pleasent suprise! Thank God that Pope Benedict XVI looks so well.”

CARD. RAYMUNDO DAMASCENO ASSIS
"The presence of His Holiness, Benedict XVI, in this ceremony that was presided by Pope Francis is something really extraordinary, exciting and, I dare say, historical.”

With the new Cardinals created on Saturday morning, the College of Cardinals has 218 members. 122 of them are electors and could vote in an eventual conclave.


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