VATICAN CITY, ITALY.- Pope Francis gave the Catholic Church 14 new cardinals Thursday, exhorting them to resist any temptation toward haughtiness and instead embrace “the greatest promotion” they can achieve: tending to those neglected or cast aside by society.
Among those receiving the cardinals’ biretta — a crimson-red square cap with three ridges — was his point man for helping Rome’s homeless and poor.
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Polish Monsignor Konrad Krajewski has handed out sleeping bags to those spending cold nights on the Italian capital’s streets and driven vans taking the poor on seaside daytrips arranged by the Vatican.
The choices of many of the new cardinals reflected Francis’ determination that the church be known for tireless attention to those on society’s margins.
He also turned his attention to countries located far from the Vatican after centuries of European dominance of the ranks of cardinals, honoring churchmen from Peru, Madagascar and Japan, which has a tiny minority of Catholics.
With Thursday’s ceremony, there are now 226 cardinals worldwide, 74 of them named by Francis during his 5-year-old papacy. Of that total, 125 cardinals are younger than 80 and can vote in a conclave for the next pope when the current pope dies or resigns: 59 of them appointed by Francis, 47 by Pope Benedict XVI, his predecessor, and 19 named by Pope John Paul II.
Three of those named Thursday are too old to participate in selecting the next pope. In his homily, Francis told the new cardinals to avoid the “quest of honors, jealousy, envy, intrigue, accommodation and compromise.”
“What does it gain the world if we are living in a stifling atmosphere of intrigues that dry up our hearts and impede our mission?” the pope asked during the ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica. He lamented the “palace intrigues that take place, even in curial offices.”
“When we forget the mission, when we lose sight of the real faces of our brothers and sisters, our life gets locked up in the pursuit of our own interests and securities,” Francis said. “The church’s authority grows with this ability to defend the dignity of others.”