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Pope Francis tells new cardinals they are not joining a royal court

By on Monday, 24 February 2014

Francis celebrates Mass with the new cardinals on sunday (AP)

Francis celebrates Mass with the new cardinals on sunday (AP)

Celebrating Mass with the newest members of the College of the Cardinals one day after their elevation, Pope Francis urged them to regard their new role not as one of worldly honour but of humble service and sacrifice.

“A cardinal enters the Church of Rome, not a royal court,” the Pope said in his homily during morning Mass in St Peter’s Basilica. “May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and preferences.”

“May our language be that of the Gospel: ‘yes when we mean yes; no when we mean no,'” he said. “May our attitudes be those of the beatitudes and our way be that of holiness.”

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass with 18 of the 19 men he had raised to the rank of cardinal the previous day in the same basilica. Cardinal Loris Capovilla, who at age 98 is now the oldest member of the college, was absent on both occasions for reasons of health.

The 18 new cardinals, clad in the green vestments of the liturgical season of ordinary time, sat in a near semi-circle around the main altar. More than a hundred of their fellow cardinals, also serving as concelebrants, sat in rows at the front of the congregation.

Retired pope Benedict XVI, whose appearance at the previous day’s consistory had surprised practically all the participants, did not return to the basilica for the Mass.

Pope Francis’s call for humility echoed a letter he had sent the new cardinals shortly after the announcement of their elevation in January, telling them that a red hat “does not signify a promotion, an honour or a decoration; it is simply a form of service that requires expanding your vision and enlarging your heart” and that they should celebrate their new distinction only in an “evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty”.

In his homily, the Pope said that “Jesus did not come to teach us good manners, how to behave well at the table. To do that, he would not have had to come down from heaven and die on the cross. Christ came to save us, to show us the way, the only way out of the quicksand of sin, and this is mercy.”

“To be saint is not a luxury,” he said. “It is necessary for the salvation of the world.”

Quoting from the day’s reading from the Gospel according to St Matthew, in which Jesus enjoins his disciples to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors, the Pope said cardinals are called to live out that injunction with even “greater zeal and ardour” than other Christians.

“We love, therefore, those who are hostile to us; we bless those who speak ill of us; we greet with a smile those who may not deserve it,” he said. “We do not aim to assert ourselves; we oppose arrogance with meekness; we forget the humiliations that we have endured.”

The Pope’s words recalled his previous day’s talk to the cardinals – whose traditional scarlet garb is said to symbolise the blood of martyrs – when he called on them to pray for “all Christians suffering from discrimination and persecution” and “every man and woman suffering injustice on account of his or her religious convictions”.

Following the Mass, the Pope appeared at the window of his office in the Apostolic Palace and addressed a crowd in St Peter’s Square before praying the noon Angelus.

He said the weekend’s gathering of the world’s cardinals was a “precious occasion for experiencing the catholicity of the Church, well represented by the varied origins of the members of the College of Cardinals, gathered in close communion around the successor of Peter. And may the Lord gives us the grace to work for the unity of the Church.”

  • Patrick_Hadley

    If it is not royal court, why are cardinals dressed up like medieval princes? Is it not time to get rid of all that nonsense and show that our cardinals are humble servants of the people of God? It is difficult to show an “evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty” when wearing gaudy and extravagant gowns.

  • Kevin Beach

    Clerics should be dressed differently from the laity, to distinguish them visually and immediately.

    It’s not as though they’re dressed like the Apostles, after all. Their costumes are medieval. I agree that they need updating. The trouble is, whenever I try to think of something 21st century or beyond, all that comes to mind is Star Trek uniforms!!

  • paulpriest

    It IS a Royal Court..
    But not in a human perspective but a Spiritual Court where the servants are in charge – the Cardinals – commissioned to be the front-guard sacrificial servants offering their life-blood to defend Holy Mother Church

    Our King is the Suffering Servant, Our Queen the handmaid of the Lord, Our Pontiff is the Servant of Servants
    Our Cardinals are supposed to be our ‘almost-300′ Spartans

    The are not supposed to be ‘executives’ who ‘give good committee’
    But alas!
    The Benedictine Revolution is over, the reform of the reform is put back in its box, the hermeneutic of rupture has its second wind…and the remnant is inevitable.

  • kag1982

    In the past, the Curia and the Vatican have acted solely as a temporal royal court. Francis is saying those days are over.

  • MIKE

    “A cardinal enters the Church of Rome, not a royal court,” the Pope said ….. “May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and preferences.”

    “May our language be that of the Gospel: ‘yes when we mean yes;
    no when we mean no,’” he said. “May our attitudes be those of the beatitudes and our way be that of holiness.”

    Pope Francis was very clear on this.
    Now if he can only get them to teach the Faith accurately and in entirety to the Laity ……

  • Guest

    But the papal hinges are not now ‘joining’ it, PP, merely undertaking a new task service for its sempiternal glory. Or at least one hopes that this office is not the first they realise their role as part of the heavenly Assembly .. even in mortal flesh.

    As mere hinge-servants to the Papal Court, the Holy See, they are not members of that courtly – and highly toxic – mix of massive egos, maximum influence, and minimal authority. After all, any bishop has an ordinary part Christ’s own infallible teaching authority, not one cardinal having more .. nope, not even as head of Rome’s judicial Inquiry Office or Head of the Post Office or Head of its Finance Admin etc.

    God Bless Our Pope .. heaven help his hinges!

  • Guest

    Erm? Like Jesus, the apostles, and their families did .. in Temple and Synagogue .. custom of Sabbath Best and better is no Middle Age Romish invention. The Judas spirit is the only thing that places a halter on expressing a genuine evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty – for it counts the cost of everything but knows not the value of the gift.

    God bless our Pope!

  • Herman_U_Tick

    when many people suggest remedies for a disease, it’s because there’s no cure.
    Anton Chekov

  • paulpriest

    is that why those curial members who defiantly refused to either obey or co-operate with Secretary of State Cdl Bertone – are all back? Some even promoted?
    Those days are back!!!

  • guest

    Sackcloth and ashes!

  • kag1982

    The best thing that can be said about Bertone is that he was an incredibly incompetent manager and diplomat. How many scandals erupted on his watch? So it is a good thing that he has retired.
    And I’m not sure exactly who you are speaking of. It seems that Francis likes surrounding himself with smart people who wish to work for the good of the Church rather than playing petty games.

  • Gerard Johnson

    Much as I agree the outfit could do with updating to make the symbolism more clear to contemporary eyes and much as I like sci-fi, I don’t think dressing my local PP in a spandex unitard would bring many people to the faith.

  • paulpriest

    His Holiness has surrounded himself with the people [or their acolytes] who wrought havoc in the final days of Blessed John Paul II with their internecine power-politics and proceeded to make Cdl Bertone’s job nigh-on impossible with their recalcitrance and refusal to co-operate. If you think otherwise I suggest you do a little more research.

  • Chris M.

    It is refreshing to hear Pope Francis to say that “your yes should be yes and your no be no.” There are too many leaders in the Church who would rather be popular than right. We have martyrs because they went against the ‘authority’ of the state.

  • kag1982

    Such as? It seems like Francis has chosen to surround himself with well-regarded diplomats like Parolin. He has no qualms about retaining people who Benedict appointed who he feels are competent. Guido Marini is still around and has adjusted well to Pope Francis; they actually seem to like each other.

    Bertone in contrast was considered a disaster. A wide majority of the College of Cardinals was critical of him including more conservative prelates like Scola and Dolan. They wanted him fired on March 14th of last year. Francis was actually more compassionate in how he handled the Bertone situation than many of the other cardinals wanted him to be.

  • Lizzy Dripping

    Holy Father, I express the following views with all due respect to you as my Pope …
    You are doing my head in with your obsession with gossip, cliques, gossip, favouritism, gossip, intrigues, gossip, preferential treatment, gossip, gossip, gossip and more gossip!
    It’s getting so tiresome, I can hear Chas and Dave swapping the word ‘Rabbit’ with the word ‘Gossip’ in a remix of their song with you rapping the verses!
    You’d have thought that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would supply you with an up-to-date Thesaurus (alongside a pot plant as a housewarming present) to give you an alternative way to express your distaste of the ‘G’ word!
    Anyone would think that you are the landlord of the Woolpack Inn addressing the residents of Emmerdale, not the Vicar of Christ’s Church on Earth addressing the Princes of the Church!
    Are we not a ‘Royal Priesthood… a people set apart’? Baptised and anointed ‘priest, prophet and king’?
    ”The Church of Rome” – eh?!?!?!?!!! that’s what the likes of Ian Paisley calls us Roman Catholics!
    As for talking about royal courts – sheesh! Latin American presidents have been known to dress like Christmas trees, too!
    Thank heaven we are not talking about dogma here – I’d be excommunicated! LOL!

  • Guest

    The nearest thing to a modernist non-priestly un-episcopal lay-minister cardinal-designate enthronement?!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/alg-obama-notre-dame-jpg.jpg


    God Bless Our Pope! And thank the good Lord we have him ..

  • diligente

    It is a royal court???!! Am puzzled..
    Just as I am also puzzled as to why my parish priest thinks its OK to cluster plastic chairs for the congregation to gather for mass in the sanctuary around the holy altar??! ( so we can cosy on up to Jesus? presumably) Help !!! I need EF pronto

  • Christopher

    “…my parish priest thinks its OK to cluster plastic chairs for the congregation to gather for mass in the sanctuary around the holy altar??! ( so we can cosy on up to Jesus? presumably) Help !!!”

    You put down what you don’t understand. The Pope is just asking his Cardinals not to be narcissistic in their new position as Princes of the Church because they are supposed to be examples of humility. In terms of your understanding of the mass I say to you that when you don’t vet the lie you tell yourself the truth becomes ridiculous. You asked for help? Ok, you can find help if you let Christ’s words inspire you to truth and help you. In a 500 word story by Our Lord spoke about how the truth of God’s word is received and acted upon in the world. Our Lord then gives us this great advice. In St. Luke’s Gospel He says,

    “Take care, then, how you hear”.

    You see selfish people are blinded in their judgments and can’t hear the truth because they have not taken the time to understand or just don’t want to understand it because it does not fit their lifestyle. But here is the real truth. At the mass visible signs get in touch with invisible realities. At the mass you have the Liturgy of the word in the Bible AND the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Both are important to our salvation. Christ said, “Amen Amen I say to you unless you eat the flesh of of the Son of Man and eat His blood you have not life in you”! That’s happens at mass. That’s the purpose of “plastic chairs” around the “holy alter” because it is a holy Altar! Here’s more help. Knowledge of the Eucharist must precede love of the Eucharist. Once one receives this love then one can clothe oneself in this truth. To “help” you in this regard with the knowledge of the Eucharist look at this Vatican approved web site below.

    So guard carefully as you can what you conclude to be facts. Once you have convinced yourself that something is or is not a fact and draw conclusions from that fact then you can be so easy to be fooled about truth. This how intelligent
    people become deceived in their thinking. And then when you finally find the truth about the Eucharist then marvel with astonishment how some people labor with all their might at destroying and losing what God and His mother efforts bought for them by His blood around that holy altar!

  • RCYouthWorker

    Wise words once again from H.H.

    I had the pleasure of seeing him and hearing him in St. Peter’s Square at the general audience last Wednesday. Amazing experience.

    The whole idea of being servants is important. Jesus was a King, but a ‘servant king’. His throne was a cross, his robes were rags etc etc. We do well to remember that what makes us great is love, service, humility etc etc. There is, of course, a natural temptation to get caught up in the ‘finery’ (for lack of a better word) associated with the Church, and I’d imaging that temptation grows more and more acute the higher up the ladder you climb!!

  • RCYouthWorker

    I can’t help you out with the plastic seats issue, but maybe I can answer the question posed by your first line…

    I think the question isn’t about whether or not it is a royal court but rather about what type of royal court it is. Francis’ point was excellent, but his wording maybe a little clumsy.

    Jesus certainly was a king, but not the sort of king that the world recognised. His kingship marked out by service, love and sacrifice, rather than by pomp and splendour. Therefore those in his court must be marked out in the same way.

    That’s why I’m so glad Pope’s have long ditched the Papal Tiara. Okay, so it’s a symbol that comes across well to those who understand it, but to the 99% who don’t it really does come across as though we think that Jesus – and by extension, us – really was the regal sort of king!

  • diligente

    You appreciation of the true presence is correct. I object to the dilution and subtle denigration of reverence within the novus ordo mass culture. Lay people do not belong on the sanctuary like cattle at the trough. The holy spirit crafted the liturgy over two millennia. Vatican 2 destroyed this or attempted to. Plastic chairs do NOT belong on the sanctuary.

  • cjkeeffe

    Umm we are all a royal priesthood – so what is wrong with joinging a royal court.
    Christ is king of kings. Royalty used to be about service, the great king and queen saints of history lie, Edward The Confessor or Margaret of Scotland or modern royals like Bl Charles of Austria.

  • Atilla The Possum

    Indeed – and a few more names of great monarchs could be added to the list, too!

  • Shirley Nott

    Ugh! Obama, the childkiller-in-chief of the USA, being given an honorary degree at Notre Dame…. whilst priests, nuns and other anti-abortion demonstrators outside that building but on campus were thrown into jail for expressing their disgust at Fr. Jenkins obstinacy!
    I’d put that photo on a fireguard to keep kids away from the fireplace!

  • ostrava

    Blow you, Lizzy, you’ve put Chas and Dave singing Gossip, Gossip, Gossip into my head now and it will be there for hours.

    Incidentally has anyone noticed that the Sideboard Song is perfect counterpoint?

  • Christopher

    Ok now I understand your position. I agree that the holy altar should be respected. I wish every Parish could be adorned like St. Peter’s. I don’t know the particulars as to why plastic chairs were use at your Parish. With that said plastic chairs are used large outdoor masses and even the Pope’s masses when he visits other countries. Vatican 2 debate is a big argument with many people with many legitimate complaints such as yours. But it changes are here to stay.

  • Lizzy Dripping

    A thousand apologies, Ostrava! Unfortunately, it’s what’s known as an earworm.
    I love the Sideboard Song, too!

  • Footsore Pilgrim

    Looks like a pagan ritual.

  • JR, Sydney

    Where on earth do you think +++Francis was before his election?

  • JR, Sydney

    Of course if you think you are truly orthodox you could eschew sitting on the plastic chairs and stand or kneel. Who knows, you might even get some time off Purgatory…

  • JR, Sydney

    Obsession, Lizzy Dripping? Seems as though +++Francis is on the money with his exhortations to use about eschewing gossip, malice and holier-than-thou posturing. If this is going your head in, perhaps some headshrinking might help…

  • JR, Sydney

    If what you say is true then cardinals should not be described as “princes of the Church”

  • paulpriest

    Deleted as hopefully the person involved will do the honourable thing

  • RCYouthWorker

    Let’s discuss this away from public sites.

    Check your E-mails :)