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Creating Cardinals: The Consistory of 2012


Creating Cardinals: The Consistory of 2012
A consistory is a gathering of cardinals with the pope. According to canon law, an ordinary consistory is called for consultation or for the celebration "of especially solemn acts," such as the creation of new cardinals or a vote approving the canonization of candidates for sainthood. And, in fact, the consistory Feb. 18 will include both. Immediately after the new cardinals are created, all the "princes of the church" are scheduled to vote on several new saints. Normally, the public consistory for new saints is attended by cardinals living in Rome, but the creation of new cardinals is an opportunity for all of them to exercise their role as advisers to the pope

With the creation of 21 new Cardinals on Feb. 18, the total number of princes of the church will reach 212. Of these 125 Cardinals will be under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. There are 87 cardinals over the age of 80 and not eligible to vote for electing a new Pope.

The Consistory of Feb. 18-19, 2012
The consistory will be preceded by a daylong meeting of the pope with the College of Cardinals and the cardinals-designate. The Vatican said the theme will be "Proclaiming the Gospel today, between 'missio ad gentes' and new evangelization" with Cardinal-designate Dolan of New York opening the meeting.

Pope Benedict will create 21 new cardinals in the morning during an "ordinary public consistory" in St. Peter's Basilica. In the consistory, Pope will place the three-cornered, red biretta on the new cardinals' heads. The prelates will also receive their cardinals' rings and their assignments of a "titular church" in Rome from Pope Benedict during the consistory.

Red will be the color of the day as the new cardinals are reminded that they are called to give their lives to God and the church, even to the point of shedding their blood. They are given their titular church in Rome to make them formally members of the Rome diocesan clergy, which is what the church's first cardinals were.

The evening of the consistory, the Bronze Doors will open and the public -- literally anyone who wants to come -- is invited in to congratulate the new cardinals.

On Feb 19, the new Cardinals will concelebrate mass with the Pope. On 20th the Pope will address the newly created Cardinals, their family members and pilgrims present at the Consistory.

The Ceremony
The general format of the consistory has been maintained, but the ceremony has been modified and will include the use of prayers borrowed from ancient Roman liturgies. According to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff the rite will be simpler, in part to avoid the impression that the ceremony of creating cardinals has any kind of sacramental meaning.

Instead of having the consistory and then the following day a Mass celebrated by the Pope in which he consigns a ring to each new cardinal, there will be just one ceremony in which the traditional three elements -- the imposition of the biretta, the consignment of the ring and the assignation of their titular churches -- will take place.

As well, both the collect and the concluding prayer have been modified, returning to the texts used prior to Vatican II: The two prayers speak of the powers the Lord gave to the Church, in particular that of Peter. The Pope also prays directly for himself, that he may carry out his duties well. Insofar as the Scripture texts used, there will only be a Gospel reading, omitting the first reading. The Gospel text used will be that of Mark 10: 32-45, in which Jesus announces his death and subsequent resurrection to the disciples and also tells them they must not seek to dominate others, but to be servants to all.

Priest Cardinals
Three of the new cardinals named by Pope Benedict are priests, not bishops. Church law says new cardinals must have been ordained at least to the priesthood and should be ordained bishops before entering the College of Cardinals. However, in recent decades, many of the elderly priests named to the college as a sign of esteem and gratitude for their service to the church have requested, and received, an exemption from episcopal ordination.

Maltese Augustinian Father Prosper Grech, an 86-year-old biblical theologian and one of the co-founders of Rome's Augustinian Patristical Institute, was ordained a bishop Feb. 8 in Malta and Belgian Father Julien Ries, 91, an expert on the history of religions, on Feb. 11 in Belgium. On the other hand, in keeping with the Jesuit promise not to strive for any dignity in the church, Father Becker, a retired professor at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, would become a cardinal without becoming a bishop.

Consistory for the Creation of Cardinals 18-20 February 2012

  • 18 FEBRUARY 2012: Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals
    • Assignment of Titles and Deaconries to the new Cardinals
    • Courtesy visits to the new Cardinals
  • 19 FEBRUARY 2012: Eucharistic Concelebration with the new Cardinals
    • Address of Card. Ferdinando Filoni to the Holy Father
    • Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
  • 20 FEBRUARY 2012:
    • Address to the newly created Cardinals, their family members and pilgrims present at the Consistory


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