Meet the “greats of this world” and the “little ones”, Pope Francis asks the cardinals

“Can I count on you? » It is with this question, launched as a challenge, that Pope Francis concluded his homily on Saturday August 27 at Saint Peter’s in Rome. In front of him, nearly 200 cardinals, including 19 to whom Francis was preparing to give the red bar, a sign of their membership in the College of Cardinals. The twentieth, the Ghanaian Richard Kuuia Baawobr, had to be hospitalized the day before, after his arrival in Rome.

To those who would become cardinals in a few minutes, just like to those dressed in red for several decades, the pope addressed a demanding speech, in the image of his conception of their role. Painting a composite portrait far from the Epinal image of cardinals, men of power whose task is to elect the future pope from among them.

“A cardinal loves the Church”launched them François. “Always with the same fire of the Spirit. By dealing with the big questions, as well as dealing with the little ones; by meeting the great of this world, like the little ones, who are great before God. »

Internationalization of the College of Cardinals

In a Saint Peter’s basilica where a crowd of great days had thronged, mixing cardinals, bishops, ambassadors from all over the world, government representatives – including the French Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin – as well as the faithful from the countries of the new cardinals, the pope underlined that“a man of apostolic zeal is moved by the fire of the Spirit to courageously take care of things, big and small”. Like Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, a diplomat who served under John Paul II, admired by Pope Francis, who also devoted time to visiting prisoners.

By giving the cardinal’s bar to 20 new prelates, Pope Francis continues the internationalization of the college of cardinals. A universal character which appeared as evidence a little earlier in the morning, Saturday, when a majority of the new cardinals presented themselves to the press.

Come from all over the world

Among them, Mgr Giorgio Marengo, the Apostolic Prefect of Oulan Bator (Mongolia), becoming, at 48, the youngest cardinal of the Catholic Church, chained interviews for nearly two hours in front of cameras around the world. “I come from a country that has only 1,450 Catholics”he said. “This country, which no longer has direct Christian experience, has something to say to the universal Church. »

This missionary of the Consolata appeared as a symbol of these cardinals who came from the four corners of the world, including from its most distant peripheries. He described his amazement at the announcement of his cardinalate while he was in Rome with Buddhist leaders from his country. The one who will be able to take part in conclaves for the next thirty-two years, until the canonical age of 80, also said that he considers his role as the youngest of the College of Cardinals as « a call within a call » to be cardinal.

Coming from the same continent, Lazzaro You Heung-sik, the Prefect, of Korean nationality, of the Congregation for the Clergy, for his part evoked the importance of dialogue with China, reiterating the availability of the pope to go to Beijing – “The Chinese government just has to invite him, he is ready”-, but also in North Korea, where Francis reiterated in an interview broadcast on August 27 his desire to go as soon as possible.

Reflecting on the role of the Church in a complex world

These new cardinals have, in a way, offered a gripping world tour of the challenges of the Catholic Church. Far from chapel quarrels and ideological battles. This is particularly the case of those who come from Latin America, such as the Archbishop Emeritus of Cartagena, the Colombian Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal. He spoke to him about the role of the Catholic Church in “this world in turmoil”especially since the Covid 19 pandemic. Emphasizing in particular the responsibility of the Church towards the peoples of Latin America.

This social voice is also that carried by the Brazilian Cardinal Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, Archbishop of Manaus, who castigated in front of the microphones and the cameras the excesses of the liberal economy, bringing to mind the economic positions often expressed by Francis since the beginning of his pontificate.

These cardinals from all over the world must now gather around Francis, Monday August 29 and Tuesday August 30. The opportunity to study the new Constitution of the Curia, at the invitation of the Pope, but also to get to know each other. A need, also underlines Colombian Cardinal Jiménez Carvajal, to reflect on the role of the Church “in such a complex and difficult world”.


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