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Rome Reports

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First consistory streamed on Zoom marks new stage in Pope Francis' pontificate

St. Peter's Basilica was decorated elaborately for the creation of 13 new cardinals, though the ceremony was full of reminders of the ongoing pandemic.

Very few people were allowed inside the basilica. They were required to wear masks and respect physical distancing.

Maltese cardinal Mario Grech greeted the pope on behalf of the new cardinals. During his reflection he spoke about the role of the Church in the current context.

Secretary General of Synod of Bishops
“The dramatic circumstances the Church and the world are going through challenge us to offer a perspective of the pandemic that will help each and every person recognize in this tragedy also the opportunity to rethink our lifestyles, our relationships, our society's structure.”

This was one of the most impressive images from the consistory.

Many cardinals who could not travel to Rome had to connect online. Thanks to Zoom, they were able to participate, though only virtually.

Two of the new cardinals were absent: Cornelius Sim, Apostolic Vicar of Brunei, and José Advincula, from the Philippines.

Pope Francis gave a brief but very down-to-earth homily. He reminded the new cardinals that as of today, they will receive the title “eminence.” He warned them of letting this higher rank go to their heads and thus, being led away from the path of service.

“The scarlet of the cardinal's robes, which is the color of blood, could, for a worldly spirit, become the color of a secular 'eminence.' You will no longer be a shepherd who is close to his people. You will simply think that you are an 'eminence.' Once you feel that way, you are already off the road.”

Then came the moment to entrust the biretta and ring to the new cardinals. The future cardinals processed in one by one. Among them was Wilton Gregory, the first African-American cardinal in history.

The youngest of them was Antoine Kambanda, the first cardinal of Rwanda.

Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the pontifical household, chose to forego the red vestments and keep his Capuchin robe.

The pope whispered something to him when he gave him the biretta and ring.

His naming is honorary, as he will not be able to vote at any conclave, nor will he receive any further responsibilities in the Curia.

Pope Francis joked with Card. Semeraro, whom he's known for many years.

Behave yourself.

The pandemic resulted in another sad change to the ceremony. The new cardinals were not allowed to hug their fellow cardinals present at the celebration.

Javier Romero

Translation: CT