The Vatican on Monday released the text of the letter Pope Francis wrote to the 19 men of the Church whom he will be elevating to the College of Cardinals in a February consistory. Pope Francis announced his decision to hold the February 22nd consistory and read out the names of the Cardinals-to-be at the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. The letter, dated the same day, January 12, 2014, begins “Dear Brother, on the day when your appointment to the College of Cardinals is made public, I wish to send you a heartfelt greeting along with assurances of my closeness and my prayers.”
The Pope expresses his hope that the newly appointed Cardinals will help him “with fraternal effectiveness in service to the universal Church.”
“The Cardinalate does not mean a promotion, nor an honor, nor a decoration,” the Pope writes, “it is simply a service” that calls us to “widen our gaze and enlarge the heart.” And, “although it seems a paradox,” Pope Francis observes, “this ability to see farther into the distance and love more universally with greater intensity can only be achieved by following the same way of the Lord: the way of bowing down (it. “abbassamento”) and of humility, in the manner of a servant” (cf. Phil 2:5 -8).
Pope Francis urged the freshly named Cardinals to accept their new role “with a simple and humble heart. And, although you should do so with happiness and with joy, do it in such a way that this sentiment is far removed from any expression of worldliness, from any celebration alien to the evangelical spirit of austerity, simplicity and poverty.”
Inviting the Cardinals designate to pray for him, the Pope concludes by saying “arrivederci” until they meet again on February 20th, the day on which all the Cardinals will begin a two day Consistory with reflections on the family. The newly appointed Cardinals, from 12 countries from every part of the world, will be elevated to their new posts in the Consistory February 22nd and together with the Pope will collectively celebrate the Eucharist the following day.