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Monday, February 20, 2012


Vatican City, 20 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the twenty-two new cardinals created in the recent consistory, accompanied by members of their families and other faithful who had come with them to Rome. The Pope spoke to each group in its own language, concluding with some words in Italian addressed to them as a whole.

Speaking French he said that "our society, which experiences moments of uncertainty and doubt, has need of Christ's clarity. May each Christian bear witness with faith and courage, and may the imminent period of Lent favour a return towards God".

Turning then to address the groups as a whole, the Holy Father highlighted how the creation of new cardinals "is an opportunity to reflect upon the universal mission of the Church in the history of man. In human affairs, which are often agitated and confused, the Church is always alive and present, bringing Christ: light and hope for all humankind. Remaining united to the Church and to the message of salvation she bears, means anchoring ourselves in truth, reinforcing a sense of true values, remaining serene whatever happens.

"I exhort you, then", the Pope added in conclusion, "always to remain united to your pastors, and to the new cardinals, in order to be in communion with the Church. Unity in the Church is a divine gift which must be defended and developed. I entrust you, dear brother cardinals, and the faithful accompanying you, to the protection of the Mother of God and of the Apostles Peter and Paul".


Vatican City, 19 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with the twenty-two cardinals created in yesterday's consistory. At the beginning of the ceremony, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, addressed a greeting to the Pope in the name of all the new cardinals.

Extracts from the Holy Father's homily are given below:

"In the second reading that we have just heard, St. Peter exhorts the “elders” of the Church to be zealous pastors, attentive to the flock of Christ. These words are addressed in the first instance to you. ... The new dignity that has been conferred upon you is intended to show appreciation for the faithful labour you have carried out in the Lord’s vineyard, to honour the communities and nations from which you come and which you represent so worthily in the Church, to invest you with new and more important ecclesial responsibilities and finally to ask of you an additional readiness to be of service to Christ and to the entire Christian community. This readiness to serve the Gospel is firmly founded upon the certitude of faith".

"Today’s Gospel passage presents Peter, under divine inspiration, expressing his own firm faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the promised Messiah. In response to this transparent profession of faith, which Peter makes in the name of the other Apostles as well, Christ reveals to him the mission He intends to entrust to him, namely that of being the “rock”, the visible foundation on which the entire spiritual edifice of the Church is built. ... This Gospel episode ... finds a further and more eloquent explanation in one of the most famous artistic treasures of this Vatican Basilica: the altar of the Chair. After passing through the magnificent central nave, and continuing past the transepts, the pilgrim arrives in the apse and sees before him an enormous bronze throne that seems to hover in mid air, but in reality is supported by the four statues of great Fathers of the Church from East and West. And above the throne, surrounded by triumphant angels suspended in the air, the glory of the Holy Spirit shines through the oval window. ... It represents a vision of the essence of the Church and the place within the Church of the Petrine Magisterium.

"The window of the apse opens the Church towards the outside, towards the whole of creation, while the image of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove shows God as the source of light. But there is also another aspect to point out: the Church herself is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where He comes towards our world. The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above. The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital “O”, to shine through her - the One from Whom she comes and to Whom she leads. The Church is the place where God “reaches” us and where we “set off” towards Him: she has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable.

"The great bronze throne encloses a wooden chair from the ninth century, which was long thought to be St. Peter’s own chair and was placed above this monumental altar because of its great symbolic value. It expresses the permanent presence of the Apostle in the Magisterium of his successors. St. Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission".

"The chair of Peter evokes another memory: the famous expression from St. Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Romans, where he says of the Church of Rome that she “presides in charity”. In truth, presiding in faith is inseparably linked to presiding in love. Faith without love would no longer be an authentic Christian faith. ... The word “charity”, in fact, was also used by the early Church to indicate the Eucharist. ... Therefore, to “preside in charity” is to draw men and women into a Eucharistic embrace - the embrace of Christ - which surpasses every barrier and every division, creating communion from all manner of differences. The Petrine ministry is therefore a primacy of love in the Eucharistic sense, that is to say solicitude for the universal communion of the Church in Christ. And the Eucharist is the shape and the measure of this communion, a guarantee that it will remain faithful to the criterion of the tradition of the faith.

"The great Chair is supported by the Fathers of the Church". They "represent the whole of the tradition, and hence the richness of expression of the true faith of the holy and one Church. This aspect of the altar teaches us that love rests upon faith. Love collapses if man no longer trusts in God and disobeys Him. Everything in the Church rests upon faith: the Sacraments, the liturgy, evangelisation, charity. Likewise the law and the Church’s authority rest upon faith. The Church is not self-regulating, she does not determine her own structure but receives it from the word of God, to which she listens in faith as she seeks to understand it and to live it. ... The Sacred Scriptures, authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium in the light of the Fathers, shed light upon the Church’s journey through time, providing her with a stable foundation amid the vicissitudes of history.

"After considering the various elements of the altar of the Chair, let us take a look at it in its entirety. We see that it is characterised by a twofold movement: ascending and descending. This is the reciprocity between faith and love. ... A selfish faith would be an unreal faith. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist, discovers true joy and becomes capable in turn of living according to the logic of this gift. True faith is illumined by love and leads towards love, leads on high, just as the altar of the Chair points upwards towards the luminous window, the glory of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the true focus for the pilgrim’s gaze as he crosses the threshold of the Vatican Basilica. ... God is not isolation, but glorious and joyful love, spreading outwards and radiant with light".

"The gift of this love has been entrusted to us, to every Christian. It is a gift to be passed on to others, through the witness of our lives. This is your task in particular, dear brother cardinals: to bear witness to the joy of Christ’s love".


Vatican City, 19 February 2012 (VIS) - Following this morning's concelebration of the Eucharist with the twenty-two cardinals created in Saturday's consistory, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Before the Marian prayer, the Holy Father reminded people that "this Sunday is a particularly joyful one here in the Vatican, because of yesterday's consistory in which I created twenty-two new cardinals. This morning I had the joy of concelebrating the Eucharist with them in St. Peter's Basilica, over the tomb of the Apostle whom Jesus called to be the 'rock' upon which to build His Church. I therefore invite you all to pray for these our venerable brothers, who are now more deeply committed to collaborating with me in guiding the universal Church, and to bearing witness to the Gospel even unto the sacrifice of their lives. This is the significance of their red garments: the colour of blood and of love".

Benedict XVI also recalled the fact that yesterday's consistory took place against the backdrop of the Feast of the Cathedra of St. Peter, which had been brought forward to this Sunday to ensure it did not coincide with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The cathedra, the Pope explained, "is the seat reserved for the bishop. ... The Cathedra of St. Peter ... is the symbol of the special mission that Peter and his successors have to feed the flock of Christ and to keep it united in faith and charity. ... This particular duty devolves upon the community of Rome and its Bishop because it was in this city that the Apostles Peter and Paul spilt their blood, along with many other martyrs. Thus we return to the witness of blood and charity. The Cathedra of Peter is a sign of authority: the authority of Christ which is founded upon faith and love".

In conclusion, the Holy Father entrusted the new cardinals to the protection of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Church, that she might "help me and my collaborators to work tirelessly for the unity of the People of God, and to announce the message of salvation to all people, humbly and courageously performing the service of truth in charity".


Vatican City, 20 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Timothy Costelloe S.D.B., auxiliary of Melbourne, Australia, as archbishop of Perth (area 427,377, population 1,681,142, Catholics 415,633, priests 266, permanent deacons 15, religious 615), Australia. He succeeds Archbishop Barry James Hickey, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Dresden - Meissen, Germany, presented by Bishop Joachim Friedrich Reinelt, upon having reached the age limit.

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