09/30/2023, 16.25
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Pope describes new cardinals as a symphony of different voices but playing together

In his ninth consistory, Francis created 21 new cardinals, three from Asia: Bishop Stephen Chow of Hong Kong, Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang (Malaysia), and Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa of Jerusalem. Tonight an ecumenical vigil will be held with young people and the heads of other Christian confessions ahead of the Synod that opens next Wednesday.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his homily during the Consistory for the creation of 21 new cardinals, Pope Francis compared the new prelates to “A symphony [that] thrives on the skilful composition of the timbres of different instruments: each one makes its contribution, sometimes alone, sometimes united with someone else, sometimes with the whole ensemble.”

The new cardinals come from all over the world, including three from Asia: Bishop Stephen Chow of Hong Kong, Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang (Malaysia), and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa.

Upon receiving their biretta, each was also assigned a church in Rome, a tradition that symbolises their collaboration with the ministry of the pope. Bishop Chow received San Giovanni Battista de La Salle; Bishop Francis, Santa Maria Causa Nostræ Lætitiæ, and Patriarch Pizzaballa, Sant'Onofrio.

With today's consistory, Asia has 34 cardinals, 24 electors (out of 137) and 10 over eighty who cannot enter a conclave.

In the celebration, significantly a few days before the opening of the Synod next Wednesday, Francis invited the new cardinals to identify themselves with the "Parthians, Medes, Elamites..." peoples mentioned in the story of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles.

Francis urged them “to rediscover with amazement the gift of having received the Gospel” and “think back with gratitude on the gift of having been evangelized and having been drawn from various peoples who, each in their own time received the Kerygma, the proclamation of the mystery of salvation”.

“[W]e are evangelizers to the extent we cherish in our hearts the wonder and gratitude of having been evangelized, even of being evangelized, because this is really a gift always present, that must be continually renewed in our memories and in faith. Evangelizers who have been evangelized, not functionaries.”

This allows the Church to walk keeping diversity together. Hence, “the College of Cardinals is called to resemble a symphony orchestra, representing the harmony and synodality of the Church. [. . .] Diversity is necessary; it is indispensable. However, each sound must contribute to the common design. This is why mutual listening is essential: each musician must listen to the others.

The conductor, he added, alluding to the ministry of the successor Peter, “has to listen more than anyone else, and at the same time his job is to help each person and the whole orchestra develop the greatest creative fidelity: fidelity to the work being performed, but also creative, able to give a soul to the score, to make it resonate in the here and now in a unique way.”

“[I]t does us good to reflect upon ourselves as the image of the orchestra, [. . .] in the consoling confidence that we have the Holy Spirit – he is the protagonist – as our master: the interior master of each one of us and the master of walking together. He creates variety and unity; He is harmony itself.”

As Pope Francis intended, in preparation for the opening of the Synod, an ecumenical vigil will be held this evening in St Peter's Square. Titled "Together", it will focus on the Holy Spirit as the only true protagonist of the life of the Church.

The pontiff will be joined by young people from all over the world, called together by the Taizé community, as well as the heads of other Christian confessions, like Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ephrem II, and Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem.

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”