Bishop Prospero Grech was elevated to Cardinal in a ceremony at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome last Saturday. During the ceremony Pope Benedict appointed twenty-two new Cardinals. The Maltese nation was focused on Cardinal Grech, as the 86-year-old Augustinian scholar became only the second Maltese Cardinal in history.
The Cardinal-designates approached the Pope one-by-one, professed their faith and allegiance and kneeled. In turn, they each received their red skull caps and Cardinals’ hats, and were assigned a titular church here in Rome to serve as protectors of. Cardinal-elect Grech has been given the titular church of Santa Maria Goretti in Rome. Each of the designates embraced the Pontiff, and then proceeded to greet their new colleagues within the College of Cardinals.
As a result of the consistory there are now 125 cardinals aged under the age of 80 years who are eligible to vote in a papal election. In all, the College of Cardinals now has 213 members.
In remarks at the start of the service, The Pope recalled that the red colour of the three-pointed hat, or biretta, and the scarlet cassock that cardinals wear symbolises the blood that cardinals must be willing to shed to remain faithful to the church.
“The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for his church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters even unto shedding their blood, if necessary,” Pope Benedict said.
At the end of his remarks, Pope Benedict said: “And pray for me, that I may continually offer to the people of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide holy church with a firm and humble hand.”
“The Maltese are happy that they have a cardinal – perhaps happier than I am,” Cardinal Grech told The Sunday Times immediately after the ceremony. His message to his compatriots was clear: “The most beautiful thing we have in Malta is the faith given to us by St Paul. Keep hold of that, cardinal or no cardinal.”
A number of Maltese dignitaries were present, including Archbishop Paul Cremona, who reminisced about the first couple of times he had met Cardinal Prospero and said each of the newly-appointed cardinals had toiled long and hard to reach this point. Gozo Bishop Mario Grech was moved by the cosmopolitan nature of the ceremony – there were 11 different countries represented among the 22 cardinals – and made reference to the universality of the Church.
President George Abela expressed the hope that Malta’s second-ever cardinal would pave the way for others to follow, “perhaps next time even one with a vote”. As an octogenarian, Cardinal Prospero will play no part in any eventual conclave to elect the next Pope.[Source: www.timesofmalta.com]