Pope Francis creates 19 new cardinals. Calls on them to evangelize with courage
There was an unexpected guest in this consistory. Benedict XVI attended his first public ceremony as Pope Emeritus, sitting in the front row of St. Peter's Basilica. Wearing his white coat, he stood out amid all the cardinals wearing red.
Pope Francis arrived a few minutes afterwards Breaking protocol, he walked over to Benedict XVI and hugged him.
Pietro Parolin, who serves as Secretary of State, and who is also among the 19 new cardinals, greeted Benedict XVI.
CARD. PIETRO PAROLIN
Holy See's Secretary of State
"With the same affection and reverence, we greet our Pope Emeritus, His Holiness Benedict XVI. We're glad you're here with us.â?
In his speech, the Pope outlined what the Church expects and needs from the new cardinals.
"The Church needs your courage, to proclaim the Gospel at all times, both in season and out of season, and to bear witness to the truth. The Church needs your compassion, especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world.â?
He also talked about those who are persecuted and discriminated against, because of their religious beliefs.
"The Church needs us to pray for them, so they may be firm in their faith and capable of responding to evil with good. May this prayer extend to all men and women who suffer from injustice because of their religious convictions.â?
This marks the Pope's first consistory. Pope Francis blessed the new cardinals before placing the traditional red beretta over them. At first he seemed somewhat solemn then more relaxed.
Historically, since all Cardinals were in Rome, the Pope entrusted each one of them with a local Church in the Eternal City. That tradition still stands today. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Marco Aurelio Poli, was assigned the same parish Pope Francis had before he was elected.
From the Ivory Coast, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa came in a wheelchair, so the Pope walked over to him, to give him his beretta and ring.
With this ceremony, the number of Cardinal electors stands at 122. There are another 96 cardinals who are over the age of 80, meaning they can't vote in a conclave.
It wasn't just cardinals who attended the ceremony, Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff was also there along with the President of Haiti Michel Martelly.
Even the music had some symbolism. For the first the Sistine Chapel choir sang along with the choir of Westminster Cathedral.
As the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Day of St. Peter's Chair, the Basilica was set up accordingly. The Chair of St. Peter, designed centuries ago by Bernini, was surrounded with candles. And the statue of St. Peter stood amid the Basilica with papal vestments.
In fact, towards the end Pope Francis first thanked Benedict XVI for attending. Then he walked towards the statue of St. Peter and prayed before it for a few moments.