VATICAN CITY — Coming from different parts of the world and having different experiences and talents, members of the College of Cardinals are called to create a “symphony,” listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis said.
Creating 21 new cardinals from 16 nations Sept. 30, the pope used the biblical story of Pentecost to remind the prelates of the roots of their faith, and he invoked the image of a symphony to emphasize their call to be both faithful and creative.
Cardinal Robert F. Prevost, the 68-year-old Chicago-born prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, was the only U.S. prelate to receive his red hat at the consistory. He was joined by French Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the 77-year-old nuncio to the United States.
Cardinal Luis Pascual Dri, a 96-year-old Capuchin friar from Argentina, was made a cardinal when the pope proclaimed his name at the consistory, but he did not travel to Rome to receive his red hat because of his health.
With the consistory, the College of Cardinals has 242 members from 91 nations, according to Vatican statistics; 137 of the cardinals are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. The so-called “cardinal electors” come from 71 countries.
Italy — with 49 cardinals, of whom 14 are electors — continues to dominate the cardinal counts. The United States is second; according to the Vatican, there are 17 U.S. cardinals, including 11 electors. The total would be 18 when counting Italian-born Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, a former Vatican official, who is a U.S. citizen.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Cardinal Prevost thanked Pope Francis on behalf of the new cardinals, noting how the consistory was taking place just before the opening of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops on synodality.
“The Church is fully such only when it truly listens, when it walks as the new people of God in its wonderful diversity, rediscovering continually her own baptismal call to contribute to the spread of the Gospel and the kingdom of God,” he said.
Before receiving their red hats, their cardinal’s rings and the names of their titular churches in Rome — an assignment that makes them formally members of the clergy of the Diocese of Rome — the new cardinals made a profession of faith, reciting the Creed in Latin, and made an oath of fidelity to Pope Francis and his successors.
Cardinal Prevost, a former superior general of the Augustinian religious order, was given the Church of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine.
In his homily at the consistory, Pope Francis drew the prelates’ attention to the Pentecost story in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
“Normally we pastors, when we read the account of Pentecost, identify ourselves with the apostles,” the pope said. But if the cardinals recognize themselves as members of the crowd, he added, they would “rediscover with amazement the gift of having received the Gospel” in their own languages and would give thanks for having been evangelized among their own people.