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The ring of Cardinals

In the Homily before presenting the ring to the new Cardinals, Benedict XVI called attention to the fact that the last time he created Cardinals was on the eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King, which closes the liturgical year. And it was in the light of this ancient Feast that he set the Papal ministry and the ministry of Cardinals whose importance stems from being rooted in the Church of Rome.

The primary service of the Successor of Peter is to faith — which, however, is not a vague sentiment or just any kind of faith. In fact, like Mary and like the Good Thief, the Pope and the Cardinals too must recognize this unique kingship of the Crucified Jesus. And, like them, they must stand by the Cross of the One who was raised upon it to save the world rather than ask him to come down from the scaffold, failing to recognize his divinity, disfigured by being stripped of its visible glory. “They mock him, but this is also a way of excusing themselves from blame”, Benedict XVI explained with subtle finesse.

Hence the Pope’s ministry and that of Cardinals is a difficult one, “because it is not in line with the human way of thinking”, the Bishop of Rome emphasized. He returned to speaking — for the second time in 24 hours — of the need to think and act in accordance with the “logic of the Cross”, which is never easy or predictable and must never look at ideologies or fuss over insignificant details: “In this we must be united and we are, because it is not an idea or a strategy that unites us but love of Christ and his Holy Spirit”, expressed in the spousal sign of the ring.

Attentive as always to symbols, Benedict XVI linked the image of the Crucifixion engraved on the cardinalitial ring to the blood red of the purple robe. In fact, both converge in implying the need to stay with Mary beside Jesus, who dies on the Cross and from it rules over the universe: stat crux dum volvitur orbis . With the one aim of proclaiming his kingship: “The primacy of Peter and of his Successors”, he said, articulating his words clearly, “is totally at the service of this primacy of Jesus Christ” so that his love may come and transform the earth.

And this is the aim of the book that presents the interview with the Pontiff, which people are wrongly attempting to liken to the mindset of the world

“I think”, Benedict on the contrary says in it, “that God, in choosing a professor as Pope, wished to stress precisely this element of reflectiveness and of the struggle for unity between faith and reason”. In the foreward he states clearly: “Man in any case is not equal to dominating history with his own forces”, concluding that for this very reason “we need Christ who gathers us together in a community which we call Church”. Which, after the example of her Lord, wants to be a friend to men and women.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 18, 2019

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