The pope's remarks


Here are excerpts from Pope John Paul II's address, which was delivered in Latin, at the consistory yesterday.

Venerable Brothers, through today's celebration you become members in full right of the Church of Rome, of which the Successor of Peter is the Bishop. From the first millennium of its history the Church of Rome comprised: the Suburbicarian Dioceses entrusted to bishops; the parishes for which priests were responsible; and the "diaconiae" in which, in accordance with an ancient apostolic tradition, deacons carried out their liturgical and social tasks.

The College of Cardinals still reflects this ordering, although in changed historical conditions, through the threefold division of Cardinal Bishops, Cardinal Priests and Cardinal Deacons. It is very significant, for example, that those in charge of the Departments of the Roman Curia are Cardinal Deacons, in order to emphasize in as it were a visible manner the "diaconal" nature of the Curia at the service of the universal Church.

Your link with the Church of Rome thus sheds light on the particular mission which this Ecclesial Community and its Pastor, the Pope, carry out on behalf of the whole People of God: a diaconal mission of communion and guidance in preaching and witnessing to the Gospel, meeting the great "challenges" of the contemporary world.

The specific task of the Cardinals gathered in Conclave is precisely the election of the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, ensuring the continuity of the apostolic succession in this See, a continuity essential for the Church and for her journey through the centuries in faithful service of the Gospel.

The College of Cardinals in its present makeup likewise expresses in a very significant way the unity and universality of the People of God and, especially in recent years, it has been enriched by the growing presence of Prelates from many Nations and from every Continent: in the group of new Cardinals no fewer than 24 Nations of every region of the world are represented.

The communion of the whole flock of God, nourished by Christ, the Prince of Shepherds, is thereby mirrored, in a certain way, in the College of Cardinals, the institution of which is very important from the viewpoint of the collegial tradition of the Church. The collegial dimension, constitutive and essential for the Episcopacy, finds in fact an eminent and exemplary manifestation in the Cardinals gathered about the Successor of Peter.

This collegial dimension, present from the beginning and intrinsic to the apostolic succession, continued to develop through the course of the centuries in the history of the Church and today is enjoying a specially happy period of rediscovery of its authenticity and of its acquisition of new forms.


Venerable Brothers! I am truly happy on this occasion to greet with affection each one of you, together with the ecclesial communities of which you are the Pastors or from which you come.

Among you there are Prelates who already for a considerable time have offered valuable service to the Holy See, Pastors who lead Christian communities steeped in history or are well-known for their enduring and courageous witness to the Gospel, Bishops who for the first time are ensuring for the communities from which they come a presence and voice in the College of Cardinals; there are also among the newly elect renowned exponents of Catholic thought.

Acting as spokesman on your behalf has been the beloved Cardinal Nasrallah-Pierre Sfeir, whom I thank most sincerely for the touching words addressed to me. He has likewise reaffirmed the commitment of each new Cardinal to remain faithful to his own vocation as Pastor, in full and generous collaboration with the Holy See.

My thoughts naturally turn at this moment with particular intensity to every Christian Community which is being severely tested.

I am thinking of the faithful in Lebanon, where they are experiencing in their own flesh the consequences of the grave problems connected with the political situation in the Middle East; I am thinking of the Churches in Eastern Europe, which for long years had to endure the oppression of an atheistic totalitarian regime; I am thinking of the Catholics of Vietnam and Cuba, who are giving a courageous testimony of faithfulness to Christ and of silent service to their brothers and sisters in the midst of many difficulties; I am thinking in particular of the Christians in Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, where, unfortunately, the devastating roar of weapons has not yet ceased, and so much innocent blood continues to be shed, without any prospect for peace in sight.

Your presence, Venerable Brothers, is a great sign of hope: It shows that the whole Church stands beside those who suffer, through prayer and through spiritual and practical solidarity.

The Church and the Pope are particularly united with our brothers and sisters in the beloved land of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a symbol of senseless fratricidal fighting which stains Europe and the world with blood.

They look upon that region with Christian trust and invoke from our merciful God the coming of the hoped-for reconciliation and peace for the peoples involved in the conflict.

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