02/23/2014, 00.00
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Pope: Cardinals must be holy for they enter the Church of Rome, not a court

During the Mass he celebrated with the cardinals he created yesterday, Pope Francis called on them to "avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and preferences." Instead, they must experience the higher justice of the Kingdom of God, do good deeds with generosity, and love their enemies. "Jesus did not come to teach us good manners, [. . .] To be a saint is not a luxury. It is necessary for the salvation of the world. [. . .] A heart without love is like a deconsecrated church, a building withdrawn from God's service".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Cardinals should bear "witness with greater zeal and ardour to those ways of being holy," conscious that "A Cardinal enters the Church of Rome, not a royal court," Pope Francis said today during the Mass he celebrated in St Peter's together with the new cardinals he created in yesterday's consistory.

In his address, the Holy Father listed the attitudes of a "court" that the cardinals must "avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and preferences. May our language be that of the Gospel: 'yes when we mean yes; no when we mean no;' may our attitudes be those of the Beatitudes, and our way be that of holiness."

Conversely, cardinals must bear witness to "greater self-gift, freely offered" because "We love [. . .] those who are hostile to us; we bless those who speak ill of us; we greet with a smile those who may not deserve it. We do not aim to assert ourselves; we oppose arrogance with meekness; we forget the humiliations that we have endured. May we always allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit of Christ, who sacrificed himself on the Cross so that we could be 'channels' through which his charity might flow. This is the attitude of a Cardinal, this is how he acts."

Moreover, the pontiff noted that "Christian holiness is not first and foremost our own work, but the fruit of docility - willed and cultivated - to the Spirit of God thrice holy". Indeed, "we must never forget that without the Holy Spirit our efforts are in vain!

During the Mass, the pope further focused on today's Gospel (Mt, 5: 38-48) in which Jesus explains the "new law" of holiness, contrasting it with "the imperfect justice of the scribes and Pharisees with the higher justice of the Kingdom of God."

The first contrast refers to revenge," the pope explained. "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you . . . if anyone should strike you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also' (Mt, 5:38-39). We are required not only to avoid repaying others the evil they have done to us, but also to seek generously to do good to them."

The second contrast refers to our enemies. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you' (Mt, 5:43-44). Jesus asks those who would follow him to love those who do not deserve it, without expecting anything in return, and in this way to fill the emptiness present in human hearts, relationships, families, communities, and entire world. Jesus did not come to teach us good manners, how to behave well at the table! To do that, he would not have had to come down from heaven and die on the Cross. Christ came to save us, to show us the way, the only way out of the quicksand of sin, and this way is mercy."

"To be a saint is not a luxury. It is necessary for the salvation of the world," he added. And as if to prove it, the pope cited from Saint Paul's reading in today's Mass (1 Cor, 3:16-23 ), in which the apostle says, "God's temple is holy, and that temple you are".

"In this temple," he said, "which we are, an existential liturgy is being celebrated: that of goodness, forgiveness, service; in a word, the liturgy of love. This temple of ours is defiled if we neglect our duties towards our neighbour. Whenever the least of our brothers and sisters finds a place in our hearts, it is God himself who finds a place there. When that brother or sister is shut out, it is God himself who is not being welcomed. A heart without love is like a deconsecrated church, a building withdrawn from God's service and given over to another use."

Francis ended his homily with an appeal. "Dear brother Cardinals, may we remain united in Christ and among ourselves! I ask you to remain close to me, with your prayers, your advice and your help. And I ask all of you, bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated men and women, and laity, together to implore the Holy Spirit, that the College of Cardinals may always be ever more fervent in pastoral charity and filled with holiness, in order to serve the Gospel and to help the Church radiate Christ's love in our world."

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