Pope appoints new Cardinals in spectacular ‘Red Hat’ ceremony

Irish-born Kevin Farrell one of 17 new appointments made by the pontiff


The issue of immigration underpinned Saturday morning’s traditionally solemn yet spectacular “Red Hat” ceremony in the Basilica of St. Peter’s, where Pope Francis created 17 new Cardinals.

In this, his third Consistory, Pope Francis followed a very Francis line, naming Cardinals from the periphery including the Central African Republic, Mauritius, Lesotho, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil.

The Pope also appointed five European Cardinals while three others, including Irishman Kevin Farrell, are USA church figures. 69-year-old Dublin-born Cardinal Farrell, who left Ireland as a 19-year-old, has spent most of the last 50 years in Church service in the USA, first in Washington and then as Bishop of Dallas, Texas.

In his homily, the Pope underlined the different cultural traditions of the new Cardinals, contrasting those with our own “age of grave problems and issues”.

“We come from distant lands; we have different traditions, skin colour, languages and social backgrounds; we think differently and we celebrate our faith in a variety of rites. None of this makes us enemies; instead it is one of our greatest riches...”

In contrast, said the Pope, the modern world is one in which “exclusion” and “polarisation” are on the increase.

“We live in a time in which polarisation and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts. We see, for example, how quickly those among us with the status of a stranger, an immigrant, or a refugee, become a threat, take on the status of an enemy.”

This issue of immigration was further underlined on Saturday by the fact that the ceremony opened with an address from one of the newly appointed Cardinals, Mario Zenari, the Papal Nuncio in war torn Syria.

“Holy Father, some of us come from places where many millions are hapless, unfortunate adults and children, left dead or half-dead on the streets of their villages or city zones, or buried beneath the rubble of their own houses and schools, because of the mindless violence of bloody, inhuman and endless conflicts,” he said.

Not all 17 Cardinals were able to attend the ceremony with 86-year-old Cardinal Sebastian Khoarai from Lesotho, who was not well enough to travel to Rome, being appointed in absentia.

Saturday’s ceremony followed along traditional Vatican lines with the new Cardinals kneeling in front of the Pope at the altar of St. Peter’s, where he placed their red hat (biretta) on their heads, as well as putting an episcopal ring on their finger.

The cardinals wear red because, as the Pope’s closest advisers, they are expected to be ready to shed their blood for the church and Christ. Underlining that point, the Cardinals swore to “remain faithful to Christ and his Gospel, constantly obedient to the Holy Apostolic Roman Church, to blessed Peter in the person of the Supreme Pontiff”

In a break from tradition, the Consistory ended with the Pope and all the new Cardinals climbing into a mini-bus and making their way up into the Vatican gardens where they visited the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.

Since his shock resignation in February 2013, Pope Benedict has lived in a converted convent in the Vatican gardens just 600 yards up the hill from the Domus Santa Marta, the Vatican “Bed and Breakfast” which is home to Pope Francis.

With Saturday’s appointments, Francis continues to put his imprint on the Church since he himself has now chosen 44 of the 121 ‘elector’ Cardinals (those under 80 years of age) in the College of Cardinals.