10/05/2019, 18.06
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Pope at Consistory: The grace of a compassionate heart

Pope Francis created 13 new cardinals, 10 electors and 3 over 80. Compassion "is written in the Christ’s heart; it is forever written in the heart of God." “The readiness of a cardinal to shed his own blood – as signified by the scarlet colour of your robes – is secure if it is rooted in this awareness of having been shown compassion and in the ability to show compassion in turn.” Asia now has 16 cardinal electors.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In the public consistory celebrated today in the St Peter’s Basilica creating 13 new cardinals, Pope Francis asked that the new and old cardinals be granted "the grace to have a compassionate heart, in order to be witnesses of the One who has looked with favour upon us, who chose us, consecrated us and sent us to bring to everyone his Gospel of salvation.”

In his homily, which he delivered after imposing the zucchetto and the ring on the new cardinals, Francis, inspired by the proclaimed Gospel reading (Mk 6.30-37a), stressed that compassion "is written in Christ’s heart; it is forever written in the heart of God.” It “is not an occasional, sporadic emotion, but is steadfast and indeed seems to be the attitude of his heart,” so much so that he can be considered the “compassionate Redeemer”.

“This compassion did not appear suddenly at one moment in the history of salvation. No, it was always there in God, impressed on his paternal heart. [. . .] God’s love for his people is drenched with compassion, to the extent that, in this covenant relationship, what is divine is compassionate, while, sad to say, it appears that what is human is so often lacking in compassion.”

The disciples, on the other hand, or the priest or the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, "often prove to be without compassion". In such a situation, the Church is experienced as officialdom, as non-compassion.

“[A]re we conscious,” asks the Pope, “of having been the object of God’s compassion? In a particular way, I ask this of you, brother cardinals and those about to become cardinals: do you have a lively awareness of always having been preceded and accompanied by his mercy?”

“Do we have a lively awareness of this compassion that God feels for us? It is not something optional, or a kind of “evangelical counsel”. No, it is essential. Unless I feel that I am the object of God’s compassion, I cannot understand his love. This is not a reality that can be explained. Either I feel it or I don’t. If I don’t feel it, how can I share it, bear witness to it, bestow it on others? Concretely: am I compassionate towards this or that brother or sister, that bishop, that priest? … Or do I constantly tear them down by my attitude of condemnation, of indifference?”

“On this lively awareness also depends the ability to be loyal in our own ministry. This also holds true for you, brother cardinals. The readiness of a cardinal to shed his own blood – as signified by the scarlet colour of your robes – is secure if it is rooted in this awareness of having been shown compassion and in the ability to show compassion in turn. Otherwise, one cannot be loyal. So many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion, and by the habit of averting one’s gaze, the habit of indifference.

“Today, let us implore, through the intercession of the apostle Peter, the grace to have a compassionate heart, in order to be witnesses of the One who has looked with favour upon us, who chose us, consecrated us and sent us to bring to everyone his Gospel of salvation.”

One of 13 new cardinals is from Asia, Mgr Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, archbishop of Jakarta (Indonesia). The others are Mgr Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ, president of the Pontifical Council for interreligious dialogue; Mgr José Tolentino Medonça, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church; Mgr Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez, Archbishop of San Cristóbal de la Habana (Cuba); Mgr Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, OFMCap, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Congo); Mgr Jean-Claude Höllerich, SJ, Archbishop of Luxembourg; Mgr Alvaro L. Ramazzini Imeri, bishop of Huehuetenamgo (Guatemala); Mgr Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna (Italy); Mgr Cristóbal López Romero, SDB, Archbishop of Rabat (Morocco) and Fr Michael Czerny, SJ, undersecretary of the Migrants Section - Department for the service of integral human development, who was ordained bishop yesterday.

Three new cardinals are over 80: Mgr Michael Louis Fitzgerald, Archbishop Emeritus of Nepte, great expert of Islam; Mgr Sigitas Tamkevicius, SJ, Archbishop Emeritus of Kaunas (Lithuania); and Mgr Eugenio Dal Corso, PSDP, bishop emeritus of Benguela (Angola).

In announcing the creation of new cardinals on 1st September, the Pope had said that "Their origins express the missionary vocation of the Church, which continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all people on earth.”

Out of 225 current cardinals, 128 are under 80 and can participate in a conclave to elect the future pontiff. Of these, 52 per cent were chosen by Francis; 30 per cent by Benedict XVI, and 14 per cent by St John Paul II.

Of the 128 cardinal electors, 16 come from Asia, 18 from Africa, 4 from Oceania, 16 from North America, 7 from Central America, 13 from South America, and 54 from Europe.

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