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Pope Francis kisses the hand of Benedict XVI

Pope Francis kissed the hand of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI after a consistory ceremony to install 13 new cardinals in the Vatican.

Francis and the new cardinals paid a visit to Benedict, Pope Emeritus, who lives across the street from the Vatican Gardens in a converted monastery after the ceremony on Saturday.

The Vatican said Benedict – who is 93 and fragile – “expressed joy at the visit” and blessed everyone.

Pope Francis greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at a meeting after a consistory ceremony to install 13 new cardinals, in the Vatican on Saturday

Pope Francis greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at a meeting after a consistory ceremony to install 13 new cardinals, in the Vatican on Saturday

Pope Francis holds the hand of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he visits him after the consistory

Pope Francis holds the hand of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he visits him after the consistory

Pope Francis holds the hand of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he visits him after the consistory

The Vatican said Benedict - who is 93 and vulnerable - 'expressed joy at the visit' and blessed everyone

The Vatican said Benedict - who is 93 and vulnerable - 'expressed joy at the visit' and blessed everyone

The Vatican said Benedict – who is 93 and vulnerable – ‘expressed joy at the visit’ and blessed everyone

It came after Pope Francis raised 13 new cardinals to the highest rank in the Catholic hierarchy and immediately warned them not to use their titles for corrupt, personal gain, presiding over a ceremony marked by the coronavirus from start to finish. pandemic.

Two new ‘princes’ of the church, from Brunei and the Philippines, did not make it to Rome due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, even though they were displayed on giant screens in the nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica. During the socially distant ceremony, which came in an unusually quick 45 minutes, new and old cardinals wore protective masks.

Most removed their masks when they approached a maskless Francis to receive their red hats, but Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the very first African American cardinal, kept his.

Pope Francis and the 13 newly appointed cardinals pay a visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Francis and the 13 newly appointed cardinals pay a visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Francis and the 13 newly appointed cardinals pay a visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Francis formally raised 13 new cardinals on Saturday in a ceremony marked in every way by the coronavirus pandemic with limited guests and spectators

Pope Francis formally raised 13 new cardinals on Saturday in a ceremony marked in every way by the coronavirus pandemic with limited guests and spectators

Pope Francis formally raised 13 new cardinals on Saturday in a ceremony marked in every way by the coronavirus pandemic with limited guests and spectators

Wilton Gregory, the 72-year-old Catholic Archbishop of Washington DC, became the first African American cardinal on Saturday

Wilton Gregory, the 72-year-old Catholic Archbishop of Washington DC, became the first African American cardinal on Saturday

Wilton Gregory, the 72-year-old Catholic Archbishop of Washington DC, became the first African American cardinal on Saturday

During his sermon, Francis warned the new cardinals that they would not fall into corruption or use their new rank for personal advancement, saying that just because they have a new title, “ Eminence, ” does not mean that they should love their people drift off.

His comments reflected Francis’ ongoing complaint about the arrogance of the clerical class, as well as his current struggle to fight corruption in the Vatican hierarchy.

“Let’s think about so many kinds of corruption in the life of the priesthood,” Francis said to the new cardinals, departing from his prepared text. If they think so big of themselves, ‘you will not be pastors close to the people, you will just be’ Your Eminence ‘. And if you feel like that, you have strayed off the road, ”the Pope warned.

The ceremony, known as a consistory, is the seventh of Francis’s pontificate and once again reflected the Argentine Pope’s attempt to name cardinals from places they have never had before or whose service to the church he wishes to emphasize. Nine are under the age of 80 and are eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope, further strengthening the majority of Francis-appointed prelates for voting age in the College of Cardinals.

Gregory, the new Archbishop of Washington, is the first black American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He told The Associated Press ahead of the ceremony that he saw his appointment as “an affirmation of Black Catholics in the United States, the legacy of faith and fidelity that we represent.”

Gregory’s nomination comes after a year of racial protests in the US, fueled by the latest murder of a black man by a white police officer. Francis has backed the protests and cited America’s history of racial injustice.

Wilton D. Gregory receives his biretta as he is appointed cardinal by Pope Francis

Wilton D. Gregory receives his biretta as he is appointed cardinal by Pope Francis

Wilton D. Gregory receives his biretta as he is appointed cardinal by Pope Francis

“There is now a realization of the need for racial reconciliation, a realization that I have not seen before at this level and with this intensity,” said Gregory.

Another social justice cardinal is the retired Archbishop of Chiapas, Mexico, Cardinal Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, who stood up for the rights of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and spearheaded efforts to translate the Bible and liturgical texts into native languages.

Francis visited Chiapas in 2016 and has long stood up for the rights of indigenous peoples. “That could be one of the reasons (he made me a cardinal), but I can’t confirm it,” Esquivel said during a Zoom call.

The Vatican’s in-house theologian pastor, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, was also given a red hat, but he also successfully argued against becoming a bishop, saying that at the age of 86 he could not take the responsibility. He also missed a red cassock for Saturday’s ceremony, instead using his brown hooded monk robe, covered in a white ‘crocheted’ robe.

The ceremony took place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which erupted in Italy in February and has seen a revival this fall. The Vatican has a modified lockdown, the Vatican Museums have closed, and Francis’ audience has been canceled. Instead, he keeps them private, streamed live.

The cardinal candidates and others who came from afar to Rome for Saturday’s service were required to undergo mandatory quarantine at the Pope’s hotel for 10 days in the Vatican, where meals were brought to their rooms.

Pope Francis is depicted Saturday during a consistory ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

Pope Francis is depicted Saturday during a consistory ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

Pope Francis is depicted Saturday during a consistory ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

Usually church councils are full of parties and crowds, with days of receptions, masses and dinners for the new cardinals and their friends. The consistory itself is normally followed by ‘courtesy visits’, where the new cardinals greet benefactors and the general public from the grandeur of their own reception areas in the Apostolic Palace or the Vatican Assembly Hall. There were no courtesy visits this year, and each cardinal was given a limit of 10 guests.

With Saturday’s new cardinals, Francis has appointed 73 of the 128 voting-age cardinals, compared to 39 for Pope Benedict XVI and 16 for St. John Paul II. While the outcome of a future conclave can never be predicted, it’s not hard to suggest that a good majority of today’s voters presumably share the pastoral and doctrinal views of the Pope who named them.

The geographic composition of the College of Cardinals has also shifted from Europe under Francis, although Europe remains the largest voting bloc with 53 voters. The Americas – North, Central and South, and the Caribbean – together have 37 cardinal voters, even though an estimated 40% of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Francis has continued the trend of appointing cardinals from the “ peripheries ” of the Catholic Church: Brunei got its very first cardinal with the Vatican’s ambassador to the country, Cardinal Cornelius Sim.

Rwanda also got its only cardinal with the Archbishop of Kigali, Antoine Kambanda, whose family was massacred in the Rwandan genocide. Kambanda made the trip to Rome for the ceremony, Sin stayed at home due to COVID-19 restrictions.

History’s first Jesuit pope also increased the number of cardinals belonging to religious orders, this time appointing three Franciscans in a year when the Pope, who named himself after St. Francis of Assisi, released an encyclical inspired by the call of the saint to brotherhood and solidarity with the weakest.

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