Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "May the Lord give us the grace to work for the unity of the Church," said Pope Francis as he expressed his best wishes to the new cardinals, with whom he celebrated Mass this morning in St Peter's Basilica, following yesterday's Consistory.
Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in the square for the Angelus, the Holy Father talked again about the meaning of the ongoing celebrations.
"Yesterday's consistory and today's Eucharistic celebration," he said, "gave us a valuable opportunity to experience Catholicity, the Church's universality, well represented by the varied backgrounds of the members of the College of Cardinals gathered in close communion around Peter's Successor. May the Lord give us the grace to work for the unity of the Church, build this unity, for unity is more important than conflicts. Unity is Christ's; conflicts are often not Christ's. May the liturgical moments and celebration, which we had the opportunity of experiencing in the past two days, strengthen in all of us the faith in and love for Christ and his Church."
In view of this, the pontiff called on the faithful to support the new cardinals and "help them through prayer, so that they may always lead with zeal the people who have been entrusted to them, showing everyone the Lord's tenderness and love."
Speaking off the cuff, the Holy Father insisted on "how many prayers" the pope, cardinals, and bishops need to live out their ministry as a "service" to the people of God, and not as "power" over the people.
"Together," he explained, as "bishops, priests, consecrated people and lay people, we must bear witness to a Church faithful to Christ, moved by the desire to serve our brothers and ready to meet with prophetic courage the expectations and spiritual needs of the men and women of our time. May the Virgin Mary accompany us and protect us in this journey."
Earlier, citing the reading from Saint Paul in today's Mass (1 Cor, 3:16-23), Francis explained that "the Apostle faced . . . divisions within the Corinth community, where groups had emerged around various preachers considered as their leaders, each saying, 'I belong to Paul,' or 'I belong to Apollos,' or 'I belong to Cephas,' or "I belong to Christ' (1 Cor, 1:12). Saint Paul explains that this way of thinking is wrong because the community does not belong to the apostles, but it is they who belong to the community, and the whole community belongs to Christ."
"From this sense of belonging," he went on to say, "it follows that in the Christian community - dioceses, parishes, associations and movements - differences cannot contradict the fact that everyone, through Baptism, we have the same dignity. Everyone, in Jesus Christ, is God's child. Those who have received a ministry of leadership, preaching, and administering the Sacraments should not be considered holders of special powers, masters, but should place themselves at the service of the community, helping it to walk the path of holiness with joy."
"The Church today," Francis added, "entrusts the witness of this pastoral lifestyle to the new cardinals, with whom I celebrated Holy Mass this morning.
Then he called on the faithful to greet the new cardinals with a big round of applause.