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Wednesday, October 22, 2003


VATICAN CITY, OCT 22, 2003 (VIS) - This morning in St. Peter's Basilica, John Paul II, who today commemorates the 25th anniversary of the beginning of his petrine ministry, presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with 30 of the 31 new cardinals, created in yesterday's consistory. The name of the "in pectore" cardinal will not be made public until the Pope wishes.

During the Mass, the Pope bestowed upon each of the new cardinals the cardinal's ring as a sign of dignity, pastoral solicitude and ever more solid communion with the See of Peter.

In the homily, which was read by Archbishop Leonardi Sandri, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, the Pope said: "Unity and openness, communion and mission: this is the life breath of the Church. This is the two-fold dimension of the petrine ministry: service to unity and missionary service. The Bishop of Rome has the joy of sharing this service with the other successors of the Apostles, bound to him in the one episcopal college."

"Following an ancient tradition," he continued, "in this service, the Successor of Peter is aided in a special way by the collaboration of the cardinals. In the college, the universality of the Church is reflected, the Church which is one People of God rooted in the multiplicity of the nations."

After expressing gratitude for the "valid help" that the cardinals provide him, he said: "The ring that I will bestow on you shortly, dear brothers, is a symbol of the renewed bond that joins you closely to the Church and to the Pope, its visible head."

John Paul II emphasized that in the face of fear or suffering, there is the "consoling promise of the Divine Master: 'In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world!'"

"How much courage does the sustenance of the unanimous prayer of the Christian people provide! I myself have experienced the comfort of prayer. It is our strength, dearest brothers. And it is also one of the reasons why I wanted to dedicate the 25th year of my pontificate to the Holy Rosary: to highlight the supremacy of prayer, especially contemplative prayer, in spiritual union with Mary, Mother of the Church."

The Holy Father's homily concluded by inviting all to be close to "Christ, the living rock. ... Let us begin with Him, from Christ, in order to proclaim to all the wonders of His love. Without fear and doubts, because He assures us: 'Trust in me, I have overcome the world!"

As of yesterday, October 21, the College of Cardinals is composed of 195 cardinals, including one "in pectore." There are 135 electors: 66 are from Europe, 14 from North America, 24 from South America, 13 from Africa, 13 from Asia and five from Oceania. John Paul II has created 175 of the 195 cardinals. Of the 135 current cardinal electors, all but 5 have been named by him.

Following Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope went to the Paul VI Hall where a very large number of pilgrims awaited him. In a brief appearance, he imparted his apostolic blessing and joined them in singing "Salve Regina."

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