by Elise Ann Allen
ROME (Crux) — Pope Francis told the 21 new cardinals he created Saturday, who come from all over the world, that their diversity is a gift which must contribute to a unified “symphony” of various but united voices capable of credible evangelization.
Speaking to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sept. 30 consistory, Pope Francis said, “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. If one listens only to himself, however sublime his sound may be, it will not benefit the symphony; and the same would be the case if one section of the orchestra did not listen to the others, but played as if it were alone, as if it were the whole,” he said.
Pope Francis presided over a highly anticipated consistory Saturday during which he gave a red hat to several key allies, including them in the Church’s most exclusive club and adding them to the mix of potential future papal candidates.
Among those made cardinal Saturday, 18 of whom are under 80 and thus eligible to vote in the next conclave, are close papal friend and ghostwriter Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, the new head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Robert Prevost, head of the Vatican Dicastery for Bishops, who is American; Hong Kong bishop Cardinal Stephen Chow; Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa; and Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the papal envoy to the United States.
Other prelates hail from Argentina, Poland, Spain, Tanzania, Malaysia, France, Venezuela, Italy, and South Sudan.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s reading, which recounted the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, focusing on the Jewish community outside of the upper room where the apostles were gathered, and who came from all over but were able to understand one another thanks to the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis said there was a “surprise” hidden in the passage “in which, with joy, I seemed to recognize the humor of the Holy Spirit, so to speak.”
While the Church’s pastors typically associate themselves with the apostles in the upper room, Pope Francis said he associated them with those who “do not belong to the group of disciples” but who gathered outside “upon hearing the noise of the rushing wind.”
“The apostles were ‘all Galileans,’ while the people who gathered were ‘from every nation under heaven,’ just like the bishops and cardinals of our time,” he said.
Pope Francis said this role reversal makes one thing, and implies “applying to ourselves — I will put myself first — the experience of those Jews who by a gift of God found themselves protagonists of the event of Pentecost, that is of the ‘baptism’ by the Holy Spirit that gave birth to the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.”
This perspective, he said, is one of rediscovering “with amazement the gift of having received the Gospel “in our own tongues.”
He urged the new cardinals to be grateful for the experience of “having been evangelized” and called from all over the world, yet forming one Church, which he called, “mother Church, who speaks all languages, is one and is Catholic.”
Noting that faith is passed on through one’s family, Pope Francis told the new cardinals that they will only be “evangelizers” to the extent that they allow themselves to “cherish in our hearts the wonder and gratitude of having been evangelized, even of being evangelized.”
Referring to the moment of Christian baptism, the pope said it is not a thing of the past, but is rather a creative act that is continually renewed by God, and a mystery in which faithful perpetually live.
The Church, he said, “does not live ‘off of her name,’ still less does she live off of an archeological patrimony, however precious and noble. The Church, and every baptized member, lives the today of God, through the action of the Holy Spirit.
“You new cardinals have come from different parts of the world, and the same Spirit that made the evangelization of your peoples fruitful now renews in you your vocation and mission in and for the Church,” he said.
Comparing the College of Cardinals to an orchestra, he said it must represent the “harmony and synodality of the Church.”
Pope Francis said he chose to emphasize synodality not only because it is the theme of the Synod of Bishops set to begin next week, “but also because it seems to me that the metaphor of the orchestra can well illuminate the synodal character of the Church.”
“A symphony thrives on the skillful composition of the timbres of different instruments: each one makes its contribution, sometimes alone, sometimes united with someone else, sometimes with the whole ensemble,” he said.
In order to create this symphony, he said, it is necessary to “listen more than anyone else,” while helping each person and the orchestra itself to “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.”
Pope Francis closed by urging the new cardinals to “have the Holy Spirit 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. We entrust ourselves to his gentle and strong guidance.”
At the beginning of the consistory, Cardinal Prevost offered a greeting to the pope on behalf of the new cardinals, voicing gratitude for the appointment, which he said, “allows us to be increasingly at the service of the mission of joyfully announcing the message of the Gospel.”
Noting that every new honor carries new weight and responsibility, Cardinal Prevost stressed the importance of humility and pointed to the upcoming Synod of Bishops on Synodality, which will take place Oct. 4-29.
“Being a synodal Church that knows how to listen to everyone is the way not only to personally live the faith, but also to grow in true Christian brotherhood,” he said, saying the Church must listen above all “to the voice of God, the voice of the poor, the voice of the sick, the voice of nature.”
Apart from seeking new pastoral programs and models, which is always “necessary and important,” Cardinal Prevost voiced his belief that “we must increasingly understand that the Church is fully such only when it truly listens, when it walks as the new people of God in its wonderful diversity.”
“The beauty of the universality of the Church that will be manifested in the development of the synod will be a very important sign, which will be able to speak of the mission that all of us baptized have received, in communion with the successor of Peter and in the profession of the same faith,” he said.
Cardinal Prevost closed voicing hope that the new cardinals would contribute “to making the door of the universal Church more ready to open, quicker to welcome, more capable of listening to everyone.”
The new cardinals will join Pope Francis in celebrating a Mass the morning of Oct. 4, marking the opening of the pontiff’s highly anticipated Synod of Bishops on Synodality.