Sadness, joy mark installation of cardinals
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI warmly embraced 15 new cardinals when he placed crimson hats on their heads in a ritual-filled ceremony Friday, tears welling in his eyes as he gripped the shoulders of the Polish prelate who faithfully served his predecessor for 40 years.The moving moment in tribute to Pope John Paul II drew long applause from the crowd in St. Peter’s Square as Benedict elevated Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the late pontiff’s private secretary, as well as key churchmen from Hong Kong, Boston, Venezuela and the Philippines. They are now members of the elite group who will eventually choose the German pope’s successor.Coming from North and South America, Europe and Asia, they showed the worldwide reach of the 1 billion-member Roman Catholic Church.One by one, they walked up to Benedict, who was seated on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, knelt before him and received a “biretta,” a four-sided hat with three distinct ridges on its upper side whose crimson color signifies their willingness to shed blood for the church. When the 87-year-old Peter Poreku Dery of Ghana was brought up in a wheelchair, the pope rose from his throne to embrace him.”I felt wonderful, especially when the pope stood up and gave me a kiss,” Dery said.Archbishop Sean O’Malley, who was brought in to clean up the church in Boston after a major sex abuse scandal, was among the new cardinals, along with William Levada, formerly the archbishop of San Francisco and Portland, Ore. Levada took over Benedict’s old job as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s chief doctrinal watchdog.The new cardinals also included Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen, a champion of religious freedom in China, Archbishop Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela, who has sought to reduce tensions between the church and President Hugo Chavez, and Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales of Manila, Philippines, the Catholic bastion of Asia.”The Holy Father loves China and I hope to be of service to him,” the Hong Kong cardinal told The Associated Press at a reception for the new “princes” of the church in the frescoed rooms of the Apostolic Palace.The pope has been reaching out to China, which broke relations with Vatican after the Communists came to power.”The church in Venezuela, the bishop conference and me, we are trying to promote dialogue,” the Caracas clergyman said. “We hope the actual government may move toward freedom, justice and peace and inclusion of all Venezuelans, without the exclusion of anyone and with an attitude of tolerance.”Thousands stood in line to greet the new cardinals, with many pushing and shoving to try to reach John Paul’s longtime secretary.”I thought of the 2,000 years of history of the church, of St. Peter who gave up his life,” said O’Malley. “And now there I was. … Who would have thought?”Earlier, he was asked what was said when he passed by Cardinal Bernard Law, his predecessor in Boston, upon receiving his red hat. “I don’t recall the exact words but they were words of congratulations,” O’Malley replied.Benedict told the prelates he was counting on them to spread the principles of love and charity that he had highlighted in his first encyclical, “God is Love.””May the scarlet that you now wear always express Christ’s charity, inspiring you to a passionate love for Christ, for his church and for all humanity,” he said. “I am counting on you, dear brother cardinals, to ensure that the principle of love will spread far and wide, and will give new life to the church at every level of her hierarchy.””I am counting on you to see to it that our common endeavor to fix our gaze on Christ’s open heart will hasten and secure the path toward the full unity of Christians,” he said.Benedict has said unifying all Christians is a priority of his pontificate.The cardinals also were each assigned a “titular” church in Rome to cement their links to the Eternal City. The new cardinals will get their rings during a Mass on Saturday in St. Peter’s Square.Levada spoke on behalf of the new cardinals, telling the pope they gave him their unconditional loyalty, “free of concern for ourselves and our own lives, as this scarlet (robe) unceasingly reminds and warns us.”Benedict announced Feb. 22 that he was naming the new cardinals, 12 of whom are under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave. The additions raised the total number of cardinals to 193, 120 of whom can vote.While electing a pontiff is the primary task of cardinals, they also are called on to advise the pope on running the church.Following Friday’s ceremony, Europe will still have the vast majority of cardinals at 100, 60 of whom are of voting age. Latin America is next with 20 voting-age cardinals, followed by North America with 16. Asia has 13, Africa nine and Oceania two.—AP reporters Daniela Petroff and Marta Falconi in Rome contributed to this article.
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