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Avoid becoming 'Princes' of the church and serve suffering humanity, Pope urges new cardinals

28 June 2017 | by Christopher Lamb

Francis said the cardinals must avoid being 'distracted by other interests or prospects' and instead concentrate on concerns of the real world

Pope Francis has urged his new cardinals to stay grounded in reality and focussed on serving a suffering humanity rather than becoming “Princes” of the Church. 

During a brief address today (28 June) at a consistory to create five new cardinals, the Pope told them not to become “distracted by other interests or prospects” but instead concentrate on concerns of the real world such as the plight of those in refugee camps or the victims of terrorism. 

“Jesus ‘is walking ahead of you’, and he asks you to follow him resolutely on his way,” Francis said during the ceremony in St Peter’s Basilica this afternoon. “He calls you to look at reality, not to let yourselves be distracted by other interests or prospects.”

Among those receiving their red hat was Archbishop Jean Zerbo, from Mali, who has been under scrutiny after it was reported that his country's bishops’ conference had €12 million in various Swiss bank accounts. 

Cardinal Zerbo had been due to address the Pope on behalf of the new cardinals at the beginning of the consistory ceremony. However, in what appeared to be a last minute change, Cardinal Juan José Omella, took on this role instead. There had been reports that Cardinal Zerbo - who denies any wrongdoing - would not attend the consistory due to ill health, while reports of the Mali Church’s money in Switzerland has not sat well with this Pope’s call for a poor Church focussed on the poor. 

Throughout his pontificate, Francis has stressed that becoming a cardinal - the highest rank of clerical privilege whose holders are traditionally dubbed “Princes”  - is about service rather than status, a theme he once again emphasised today. 

“He [Jesus] has not called you to become ‘Princes’ of the Church, to ‘sit at his right or at his left.’ He calls you to serve like him and with him,” the Pope explained. “To serve the father and your brothers and sisters. He calls you to face as he did the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity.” 

The consistory ceremony took place in front of dozens of cardinals dressed in their scarlet robes, which is meant to symbolise the blood that these prelates must be prepared to shed for the Church. 

During the liturgy, each of the five new cardinals kneels in front of the Pope who in turn places a red biretta on their head and gives them a ring and the official document naming their new position and assigning them a church in Rome. 

Those receiving their red hat today came from five different countries. Four of these countries - Laos, Sweden, Mali and El Salvador - have never been represented by a cardinal. 

 The five cardinals are as follows: 

Cardinal Jean Zerbo, Archbishop of Bamako, Mali

Cardinal Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona, Spain

Cardinal Anders Arborelius, Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden

Cardinal Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Paksé, Laos

Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, El Salvador 

Dramatic scenes followed the ceremony, when Mali's new Cardinal abruptly left a courtesy meeting with press after he was questioned on recent revelations that the country's bishops conference had millions of euros in a Swiss bank account.

 

PICTURE: The new Cardinals look on as Pope Francis leads a consistory in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 28. Pictured are Cardinals Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali; Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona, Spain; Anders Arborelius of Stockholm; Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun of Pakse, Laos; and Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador, El Salvador

 

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