Pope to Cardinals: Ensure Fidelity to the Faith

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Leaders and members of the Catholic Church do not have the authority to determine its teaching and structure but are called to ensure its fidelity to Jesus and to the faith passed on by the apostles, Pope Benedict XVI told the 22 new cardinals he created.

“The church is not self-regulating, she does not determine her own structure, but receives it from the word of God, to which she listens in faith as she seeks to understand it and to live it,” the pope said in a homily Feb. 19 during a Mass concelebrated with the new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Mass marked the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a liturgical solemnity focused on the authority Jesus entrusted to his apostles. The feast usually is celebrated Feb. 22 but was early because Ash Wednesday falls on that date this year.

The basilica’s bronze statue of St. Peter, with its foot worn smooth by centuries of pilgrims’ caresses, was draped with red and gold liturgical vestments for the feast day.

To illustrate his homily, the pope used another artwork, Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s towering sculpture of the Chair of St. Peter, which is topped by the Holy Spirit window.

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