January 30, 2012

Modifications to Rites for the Creation of New Cardinals

VATICAN CITY, 10 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has introduced certain modifications to the ordinary public consistories for the creation of new cardinals. The rites followed until now have been revised and simplified, with the Holy Father's approval. The modifications chiefly involve the unification of the three phases: the imposition of the biretta, the consignment of the ring and the assignation of the title or diaconate. The collect and the concluding prayer have been modified, and the proclamation of the Word of God made shorter.

On 6 January Benedict XVI announced his intention to create twenty-two new members of the College of Cardinals, on 18 February, in what will be the fourth consistory of his pontificate.

In its announcement the Office of Liturgical Celebrations explains that the liturgical reform which began with Vatican Council II also covered the rites for imposing the biretta and assigning a title to new cardinals during consistories, and that the modified form of the celebration was first used by Paul VI in April 1969. In preparing those new rites the main criterion adopted was that of giving a liturgical setting to a process which, of itself, is not part of the liturgy. The creation of new cardinals had to be inserted into a context of prayer, while at the same time avoiding anything that could give rise to the idea of a "cardinalatial Sacrament". Historically speaking, in fact, consistories have never been considered as a liturgical rite but as a meeting of the Pope with cardinals as part of the governance of the Church.

Bearing in mind these historical aspects, and in continuity with the current form and main elements of consistories, the existing practice has been reviewed and simplified. In the first place, the collect and concluding prayer of the 1969 rite have been recouped, because they are particularly rich and derive from the great Roman tradition of prayer. The two prayers, in fact, speak explicitly 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.

The proclamation of the Word of God will also take a shorter form, as used in the 1969 rite, with a single Gospel reading (Mk 10, 32-45) which is the same in the two rites. Finally, the consignment of the cardinalatial ring will be integrated into a single rite. Prior to the 1969 reform, the red hat was imposed during the public consistory, which was followed by a secret consistory in which the ring was consigned and the title or diaconate assigned. Nowadays the distinction between public and secret consistory is no longer observed and it was deemed more coherent to bring the three phases of the creation of new cardinals together into a single rite. What remains unchanged is the following day's concelebration of Mass by the Pope and the new cardinals, which begins with an expression of homage and gratitude addressed to the Pope by the first of the new cardinals in the name of all the others.

LOR/ VIS 20120110 (530)