20-February-2001 -- Vatican Information Service |

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CONSISTORY AND COLLEGE OF CARDINALS: A HISTORY

VATICAN CITY, FEB 20, 2001 (VIS) - In tomorrow's public ordinary consistory, Pope John Paul will create 44 new cardinals, bringing the number of members of the College of Cardinals to 184, of whom 135 are cardinal electors.

The College is a body which advises and collaborates with the pope and since 1059 its members have been the exclusive electors of the Roman Pontiff. Prior to the 12th century only prelates residing in Rome were named cardinals but during that century prelates residing outside the city began to be named cardinals.

Pope Paul VI, on February 11, 1965, determined the role of Eastern patriarchs in the College of Cardinals. Later, on November 21, 1970, he ordered that cardinals, upon their 80th birthday, both cease to be members of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and all permanent organisms of the Holy See and of Vatican City, and lose the right to elect the pope, thus also the right to enter into conclave. In the private Consistory of November 5, 1973, Paul VI set the number of cardinals who can enter into conclave at a maximum of 120.

Though Pope John Paul has departed from that maximum number - exceeding it by 15 - Paul VI's rule remains the one in vigor.

A consistory is an assembly of the College of Cardinals, convened by and under the leadership of the Holy Father, for the purpose of discussing Church business. According to Canon 353, these are either ordinary or extraordinary: All cardinals, or at least those who live in Rome, are called to attend ordinary consistories. The entire College of Cardinals is called to attend an extraordinary consistory which usually treats particular needs of the Church or serious problems facing the Church. Only ordinary consistories may be public, that is, where people other than the cardinals and Holy Father are present (such as the consistory to create new cardinals).

Tomorrow's consistory will take place according to the new rite introduced at the June 28, 1991, consistory. After a liturgical greeting, the Holy Father will read the formula of creation and solemnly proclaim the names of the new cardinals. The first of the new cardinals, in the name of all the others, will address the pope.

Following the Liturgy of the Word, Pope John Paul will give a homily. There will then be the profession of faith and taking of the oath by the new cardinals, the imposition of the red biretta or hat and assignment of the titular or diaconate church in Rome as a sign of participation in the pastoral concern of the pope in the city.

When placing the hat or biretta on the head of each new cardinal who kneels before him, the pope says, in part: "(This is) red as a sign of the dignity of the cardinal, meaning that you must be ready to behave with courage, up to the shedding of blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and tranquillity of the People of God and for the freedom and spreading of the Holy Roman Church."

The Holy Father hands over the Bull of Creation as cardinal and that of assignment of titular or diaconate church and exchanges an embrace of peace with the new cardinals. The cardinals then do the same with each other. The rite concludes with the prayer of the Faithful, the recitation of the Our Father and the final blessing.

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