Cardinal Thomas C. Collins of Toronto concelebrates Mass with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 19. He was one of 22 new cardinals created by the pope during a consistory the previous day. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Church leaders called to preserve tradition, Pope tells new cardinals

By  Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
  • February 21, 2012

VATICAN CITY  - Leaders and members of the Catholic Church do not have the authority to determine its teaching and structure but are called to ensure its fidelity to Jesus and to the faith passed on by the apostles, Pope Benedict XVI told the 22 new cardinals he created.

"The Church is not self-regulating, she does not determine her own structure, but receives it from the Word of God, to which she listens in faith as she seeks to understand it and to live it," the Pope said in a homily Feb. 19 during a Mass concelebrated with the new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica.

The College of Cardinals was expanded Feb. 18, and the new members included the archbishop of Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins.

The Mass marked the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a liturgical solemnity focused on the authority Jesus entrusted to His apostles. The feast usually is celebrated Feb. 22 but was early because Ash Wednesday falls on that date this year. The basilica's bronze statue of St. Peter, with its foot worn smooth by centuries of pilgrims' caresses, was draped with red and gold liturgical vestments for the feast day.

To illustrate his homily, the Pope used another artwork, Gian Lorenzo Bernini's towering sculpture of the Chair of St. Peter, which is topped by the Holy Spirit window in the basilica's apse. The Catholic Church is like a window into which the light of truth shines and through which a response of love should radiate, he said.

"The Church herself is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where He comes toward our world," the Pope said.

"Everything in the Church rests upon faith: the sacraments, the liturgy, evangelization, charity," as well as "the law and the Church's authority."

Catholics cannot make things up as they go along, he said. They must follow tradition, the sacred Scriptures and the teaching of the apostles, explained and interpreted by the fathers of the Church and the popes. All the Church teaches and does in the world must be motivated by love and lead to love, the Pope said.

"A selfish faith would be an unreal faith," Pope Benedict said.

"Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist discovers true joy and becomes capable, in turn, of living according to the logic of gift," he said.

Like the basilica's Holy Spirit window with its radiating golden rays, "God is not isolation, but glorious and joyful love, spreading outward and radiant with light," the Pope told the new cardinals.

Entrusted with God's love, every Christian — and, particularly, each of the Church's cardinals — has a duty to share it with others, he said.

At the beginning of the Mass, Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, thanked the Pope on behalf of all the new cardinals. Acknowledging the different nationalities and ministries of the new cardinals, Filoni said, "We are united by one faith in Christ, love for the Church, fidelity to the Pope and a deep awareness of the real and serious needs of humanity."

The cardinal also thanked the family members present at the Mass, several of whom brought the offertory gifts to the Pope. Filoni said every vocation, including the new cardinals' vocations to the priesthood, is born within a family or other community and nurtured by the faith of others.

Pope Benedict met the new cardinals and their family and friends again Feb. 20 in the more informal setting of an audience. He asked the family and friends to support the new cardinals with even more prayers, to listen to them more carefully and "be united with them and among yourselves in faith and charity in order to be even more fervid and courageous witnesses of Christ."

At the end of the audience, each of the new cardinals presented two members of their entourage to the Pope. Collins introduced his sisters, Catherine and Patricia, to the Pope.

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