Pope Francis appoints 19 new cardinals in Rome
Former pope Benedict makes surprise appearance at St Peter’s Basilica
Past and present popes Emeritus Benedict XVI (left) and Pope Francis greet each other in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican City today before the start of a consistory during which 19 new cardinals were appointed - the first of Pope Francis’ papacy. Photograph: Fabio Frustaci/EPA
Pope Francis has appointed 19 new cardinals in Rome today, the first such appointments of his papacy.
The 19 senior clerics from 12 different countries received the symbolic red hat at a consistory ceremony this morning in St Peter’s Basilica.
Former pope Benedict made a surprise appearance at the ceremony. Benedict (86), who resigned a year ago, sat quietly wearing a long white overcoat in the front row along with other cardinals.
It was the first time he has attended a papal ceremony since his resignation, although he and Francis have met several times.
When he reached the front of the basilica to start the ceremony, Pope Francis went greet Benedict, who took off his white skull cap in a sign of respect and obedience to Francis.
Even though the crowd inside the basilica had been asked to refrain from applause during the ceremony, they clapped when Benedict walked in and again when his name was mentioned in an opening address by one of the new cardinals.
Benedict became the first pope to resign in 600 years when he stepped down in February last year. Francis was elected the first non-European pope in 1,300 years two weeks later.
A Papal Mass with the new cardinals — all elevated to the Catholic clergy’s second highest rank — will take place tomorrow. It means they will be granted a place at the conclave which will be consulted to elect the next pope.
Each bishop appointed cardinal promised fidelity to the death to the pope and received a red biretta and a ring from him. The reason that the biretta is red is to symbolise the wearer’s willingness to give their lives for the Catholic faith.
An ancient custom is that each cardinal will also be appointed titular bishop to a Roman church. This appointment reflects the original role of the College of Cardinals. It is usual that following the ceremony, there are various receptions held in the Vatican. These are often held on the first floor of the Apostolic Palace, but they have also been held in the Audience Hall and Vatican Museum.