Rome Is Prepared For The Consistory
By Fr. Shamindra Jayawardena in Rome
Following the general audience of October 20, 1010, the Holy Father Benedict XVI announced the names of24 prelates who will be created cardinals in a special ceremony, known as a consistory, due to be held on November 20, eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King. Sri Lanka is honoured and proud to have its second son, in the person of cardinal-designate Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, elevated to this most honourable position in the Church.
“Cardinals”, said the Pope, “have the task of helping Peter’s Successor carry out his mission as permanent and visible source and foundation of the Church’s unity of faith and communion.” Twenty of the new cardinals, being under the age of 80, will have the power to elect his eventual successor. This means that, after the Consistory on November 20, there will be 121 cardinals of voting age, one more than the usual 120 limit.
Cardinals, the “Princes of the Church” as they are traditionally called, are the pope’s closest advisers and are personally named by him. They are usually archbishops of major dioceses or heads of influential departments at the Vatican. “Cardinal” comes from the Latin “cardo-dinis” (hinge) and symbolises the link they assure between the Holy See and major dioceses. The Code of Canon Law attributes to the College of Cardinals the task of helping the Roman pontiff deal both with “questions of greater moment” and with the ordinary “daily administration” of the Church. Their trademark red hat, which they will receive in the ceremony, stands for their readiness to shed their blood for the Church.
The colour symbolises the commitment of the cardinals to hold fast to the faith “even unto the shedding of blood” (“usque ad sanguinis effusionem”, literally “up to of blood the shedding”) — that is, up to martyrdom. “In you,” Pope John Paul told the cardinals in one of his consistories, “the faithful and even the pastors of the particular Churches scattered throughout the world look for light and direction to live more profoundly the communion with the Roman See. Is not this perhaps the meaning of the admonition contained in the rite we are celebrating: ‘Te intrepidum exhibere debeas’ (‘You should show yourself fearless’)?” That is the mission of a cardinal.
Since 1630, cardinals are addressed as ‘His Eminence”. In accordance with Latin tradition, they sign by placing the title Cardinalis (abbreviated Card.) after their personal name and before their surname as, for instance, “Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith”. The new cardinals with then celebrate Mass with the Pope on the Feast of Christ the King, Sunday, November 21, and at that Mass they will receive their cardinalatial rings directly from the Pope to symbolise their bond with the Holy Father, the successor of Peter. The Pope chooses the image on the outside: under Pope Benedict XVI it is a modern depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus, with Mary and John to each side. The ring includes the pope’s coat of arms on the inside.
The Lord has truly blessed our Motherland in giving us a new Cardinal in the person of cardinal-designate Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith. His name is much spoken of in the international forum and even in the Vatican for several reasons, namely for his ability to speak about 10 languages (a plus to converse with many cardinals and for the Universal Church), for his services as Nuncio in the largest Islamic country, Indonesia, not only for the diplomatic experience, but more importantly, for the experience gained in maintaining a dialogue with Islam, for having an operational knowledge of the affairs of the Holy See after serving in two different curia positions (Propaganda Fide and Congregation for Divine Worship), for his loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff, for his fearless/straightforward character of bearing witness to the Truth, for his love for the Liturgy of the Roman Church and also for his contribution for the peace process of Sri Lanka.
Rome awaits to receive Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith as many celebrations have been organised for the same. On November 17 at 10 am there will be a ceremonial Welcome to His Eminence at the Fuimicino International Air Port of Rome. The Sri Lankan delegation comprising more than 250 participants (including priests, politicians, relatives and friends of His Eminence) are expected to participate at these celebrations. On the evening when the cardinals are created, that is on November 20th, the well-wishers of the new cardinals will be able to visit them inside the Vatican, to congratulate them and to receive their blessings. His Eminence will celebrate the Holy Eucharist with the Sri Lankan community on Tuesday, November 23 at St. Peter’s Basilica of the Vatican.
We wish cardinal-designate Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith God’s choicest blessings. May you be the proud son of Mother Lanka, the pearl of the Indian ocean and may you guide the Church in Sri Lanka in wisdom and in Truth for many more years to come.