Friday, 28 September 2012

The History of the Cardinalate and the role of Cardinals in today’s Church


The History of the Cardinalate and the role of Cardinals in today’s Church



H.E. The Lord Cardinal Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone, S.D.B.
Secretary of the Secretariat of State
Chamberlain (Camerlengo) of the Apostolic Chamber
Cardinal Bishop of the Suburbicarian Church of  Frascati

Frank Zammit with H.E. The Lord Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.

H.E. The Lord Cardinal Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone, S.D.B.
In the Church’s hierarchy the Cardinal is one of the Pope’s main collaborators, forming what has been historically defined as the Pope’s senate. Cardinals’ origins go back to around one thousand years ago, between the year 1050 and the year 1059. Since then, the group of Cardinals, or College of Cardinals was mainly assigned the right of electing the Pope, the successor of Saint Peter, and thereafter they were assigned the task of collaborating with and assisting the Pope in important and delicate matters including the governance not only of the Church of Rome but also of the Universal Church. Today the College of Cardinals is dispersed throughout the world and composed of renowned ecclesiastical and Catholic personalities of various nationalities.” H.E. The Lord Cardinal Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone, S.D.B. 25.01.2012


Interview with:

H.E. The Lord Cardinal Jose' Saraiva Martin, C.M.F.
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Cardinal Bishop of the Suburbicarian Church of Palestrina

Frank Zammit with H.E. The Lord Cardinal Jose' Saraiva Martins, C.M.F.




What is the Cardinalate?


The Cardinalate is the highest ecclesiastical rank in the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, inferior only to the role of the Pope as successor to Saint Peter in this world. The Cardinal is the closest prelate and counsellor to the Pope in the governance of the Roman Curia and the Universal Church.
The fundamental work of Cardinals and of the College of Cardinals is also to elect Saint Peter’s Successor, the Prince of the Apostles or to be elected to this office. Indeed, Cardinals participating in the Conclaves can even elect those who are over eighty years of age and who are not entitled to attend the election.
The Pope can appoint Cardinals who have not reached the age of 80 years and who are therefore electing members in the College of Cardinals, or prelates who are over eighty years of age and are thus not entitled to vote in the College of Cardinals but can be elevated to an ‘Ad Honorem’ cadinalate in appreciation of the long and impeccable service they would have given to the Catholic Church.


What is the origin of the term ‘Cardinal’?


“The term ‘Cardinal’ is a medieval word that originated from the Latin word ‘cardo’ or ‘cardonis’ which means ‘hinge’, centre, or point of reference. The term was initially used for priests, for those who are permanently assigned and incardinated to an episcopal church, in other words a principal diocese. Later on, the term Cardinal was applied to the clergy, the priests in Rome which was the centre, the fulcrum not only of the diocese but of the Universal Church. Thus the term ‘Cardinal’ comes from the Latin word ‘cardo’, which means ‘hinge’ or ‘centre’. 


St Sylvester I - The Pope who led the Council of Nicea

When was the Cardinalate institutionalised?

The Cardinalate as an institution goes back to the Fourth century A.D. in the time of Pope Saint Sylvester I’s Pontificate, the same Pope who led the Council of Nicaea as well as the Successor of Saint Peter who gave permission to Emperor Constantine to start building the great churches in Rome, including the Basilica of Saint Peter on the ‘Colle Vaticane’. This can easily be found on the ‘Liber Pontificalis’.
This successor of Peter ruled the Universal Church between the years 314 and 335 A.D. Thus at that time that same Pope was already engaging Roman priests in the governance of the Universal Church. This is extremely significant.


How does the College of Cardinals function?


The College of Cardinals as a prelates’ college functions with its own concrete and precise rules, some of which go back hundreds of years. In the last century the Church wanted to adapt the College of Cardinals and its rules to modern times. The Church established certain changes, some of which are extremely important.


The Preaching of Peter near Rome



What is the role of the three orders of the cardinalate? What are the Suburbicarian Churches?

The College of Cardinals is divided into three orders, the Cardinal-bishops, the Cardinal-priests and the Cardinal-deacons. These orders reflect the three ministry ranks, i.e. the sacrament of the order: the diaconate, the presbyterate and the episcopate. Thus they reflect the sacrament of the order which Christ wanted and built. This means that the Cardinal-bishops represent all the bishops of the world, the Cardinal-priests represent all the priests of the world and the Cardinal-deacons represent all the deacons of the world. Therefore their significance is very clear.

There are six Cardinal-bishops who head the subarbicarian Churches of Rome. The Sees of these churches are in Ostia, Albano, Frascati, Palestrina, Porto-Santa Rufina, Sabina Poggio-Mirteto and Velletri Segni. The Dean of the College of Cardinals is responsible for the See and also heads the Subarbicarian Church of Ostia. This Order of Cardinals also includes the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches.  

These seven subarbicarian Churches are spread around the periphery of Rome as they originated during early Christianity at the time of the evangelisation of Saint Peter. When Saint Peter arrived in Rome he did not go immediately to the Eternal City but preached in the outskirts and created these seven Christian communities.

Thus when the Pope elevates a Cardinal from the order of the priests or of the deacons to the order of the bishops he is entrusted with one of the subarbicarian churches precisely because they are churches of great prestige and were founded by Saint Peter himself.   
 
The Cardinal-priests are mostly responsible for strategically important archdioceses around the world whereas the Cardinal-deacons carry out their deaconate in the Roman Curia.



Ingravescentem aetatem: Motu Proprio issued on November 21, 1971 establishing an age limit for the exercise of major functions by cardinals

Can you tell us the biggest and most important changes in the institution of the Cardinalate since its origin till today?


Concerning the main functions of the College of Cardinals, there were no significant changes throughout its history. The big change occurred during the last century, with the introduction of the principle that Cardinals who reach the age of eighty are not allowed to participate in the conclave. And therefore they can no longer elect the Pope. They are still considered members of the College of Cardinals, and they can even attend and participate in the general congregations prior to the conclave. As you are aware, a week before the conclave the Cardinals meet in general congregations to discuss the problems of the Church in our time. Those who are eighty years old and over still attend these meetings but they are not be allowed to take part in the conclave. Naturally, this was a big change; however, we must not forget that this was a change of ecclesiastical law, not of divine law. If the Pope so desires he can change this rule anytime. This is not a principle that has to remain there forever.

Pope Sixtus V - Born Felice Peretti di Montalto. He fixed the number of cardinals at seventy.



How did the number of members in the College of Cardinals increase during the centuries?


In the middle Ages there were great variations. There was not a fixed number. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, Pope Sixtus V limited the number of Cardinals in the College of Cardinals to seventy...thus seventy Cardinals. So towards the end of the sixteenth century this number was increased. And John Paul II, above all, went significantly beyond this level of seventy members in the College of Cardinals, as we know. Today there are about two hundred Cardinals".

21st February 2001: The Blessed Pope John Paul II greets the newly created Cardinal Jose' Saraiva Martins, C.M.F in St Peter's Square.


Your Eminence can you explain the phases through which the prelate has to pass from the time he is told that he is chosen as a Cardinal until the consistorial rite?


First and foremost there has to be the final announcement that the Pope has decided to elect a number of new Cardinals.  Then there are the episcopal ordinations of the candidates to the cardinalate which the Pope would elect a few weeks later. This is the general principle since there are only a few Cardinals who are not bishops. Thus, after the Pope announces the names of the new Cardinals, there would be the episcopal ordinations. In exceptional cases, for instance, elderly prelates who are already over eighty or ninety years of age, the Pope can grant a derogation so that they are not given an episcopal ordination. In the penultimate consistory there were two prelates who were not anointed in the episcopate.
Then there is the creation of the Cardinal in the consistory, during the first consistory since the Papal announcement. And naturally during this consistory the new Cardinal is given the office by the Pope, which is that of deacon or priest, but not of bishop as I already said previously.  This is fundamental. The Pope gives them the ring, the zucchetto and so on. And hence one becomes a Cardinal.


The Mexican Cardinal H.E. Juan Jesus Ocampo Posadas: One of the three cardinals assasinated in the 20th century.


What is the meaning of the colour red in the Cardinal’s clothing?

“The colour red is a simple colour. Red is a symbol. The Cardinal wears red to show his willingness to die for his Faith and so red symbolises martyrdom in the name of the Church and the Pope. The colour red indicates the Cardinal’s readiness to be a martyr. For the love of the Church.”



A Cardinal's choir dress

What kind of clothing does the purpurate wear?

The purpurate? The choir dress, the red cassock, the red sash, then the white rochet, the red cape or ‘mozzetta’ as well as the red ‘zucchetto’. This is the ordinary clothing of the Cardinal. This is the choir dress in technical terms. Then in private life he can wear the pleated cassock such as the one I’m wearing or else he can wear normal priest garments together with the cross on his chest. This is the Cardinal’s vesture.


H.E. The Lord Cardinal  John McCloskey: The 1st Archbishop of New York that was created cardinal by the Blessed Pope Pius IX


Who started the internationalisation of the College of Cardinals?


“It started with the expansion of evangelisation, the evangelisation of several countries, not just European or Italian but also countries from the other continents. One could notice the diffusion of the gospel,  as well as the expansion of the Church, and it was therefore necessary that these new ecclesiastical and missionary realities be expressed even at the level of the College of Cardinals. So the Blessed Pius IX was the first Pope to create non-European Cardinals from the United States and the American continent.  That was Pius IX. Then, Pius XII in the two consistories which he held during his nineteen years as Pope, elevated fourteen Italian bishops as well as forty-two other bishops from around the world. This is a very important fact.


H.E. The Lord Cardinal Jose' Saraiva Martins, C.M.F.: He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for more than ten years


What is the Cardinal Prefect’s role in the Roman Curia?



One has to understand the following first. In the Roman Curia there are two different posts. There are the Congregations and the Pontifical Councils. These are two different realities. While the congregations have executive powers the Pontifical Councils do not. These councils do not have executive powers and remain in the background of their own typology. This is the premise. The role of the Prefect in the congregation is that of being its leader. He is the one who leads the congregation and the one to appear before the Pope in order to explain the work being done in his dicastery. There are nine Congregations and eleven Pontifical Councils. Naturally, the Prefect has the delicate task of guiding the dicastery. Naturally, he is assisted by the invaluable collaboration of the secretary of the same dicastery whose rank is always that of archbishop in a congregation. The Vice-Secretary also provides assistance but the final responsibility always remains with the Cardinal Prefect assisted by his collaborators. While he uses the collegiality he remains responsible for the leadership of the dicastery. There is another difference between a congregation and a pontifical council. The head of a congregation is always a Cardinal, whereas the head of a Pontifical Council is not necessarily a Cardinal. There are various Pontifical Councils whose head is not a Cardinal. While the heads of the Congregations are called Prefects, those of the Councils are called Presidents. This is another difference. But the principle remains that whoever is prefect is always a Cardinal, whereas a president does not have to be a Cardinal.

H.E. The Lord Cardinal  Tarcisio Bertone with the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev


What is the role of the Cardinal Secretary of State?


The role of the Cardinal Secretary of State is simply that of working closely with the Pope and assisting him in the day-to-day duties as well as in the relation between the Holy See and the countries of the world.


His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI with the Dean of the College of Cardinals, H.E. The Lord Cardinal Angelo Sodano


What about the role of the Cardinal Dean?

The role of the Cardinal Dean is the following. He holds the principal post in the list of Cardinals, he is the head of the College of Cardinals and its representative, he speaks on behalf of the College of Cardinals and he is also the Cardinal who in the conclave asks the newly elected pope whether he accepts his election. He is the one who poses this question to the person who has just been elected as pope.

H.E. The Lord Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo was the Camerlengo of the Apostolic Chamber in the 'Sede Vacante' of April 2005

What is the role of the Cardinal ‘Camerlengo’?

The role of the Cardinal ‘Camerlengo’ is to keep under his responsibility the Holy See during the period known as ‘Sede Vacante’.


19th April 2005: The Proto-Deacon announced the election of Pope Benedict XVI

What is the role of the Cardinal Protodeacon?


The Cardinal Protodeacon has the privilege of announcing ‘Habemus Papaem’, that is announcing the name of the newly elected pope and the latter’s acceptance of this Petrine ministry. He announces it to the thousands gathered in Saint Peter’s Square and to the rest of the world. Therefore the Cardinal Protodeacon has the role of announcing to the world the name of the newly elected Pope. He chants the ‘Habemus Papaem’ and reveals the name of the new Pope.

Sede Vacante 2005 - Cardinals' General Congregation


What does the phrase ‘Sede Vacante’ mean?


The ‘Sede Vacante’ is that period between the death of a pope and the time of acceptance of the newly elected pope in the conclave. That period of time is referred to as the ‘Sede Vacante’.

Conclave 2005


Your Eminence has entered a conclave back in 2005. With what spirit, a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Catholic Church needs to enter the conclave?


I can say for what concerned me: I entered the Sistine Chapel on that April day back in 2005 with feelings of great serenity and with a deep sense of the ecclesiality of our Mother Church. Before your conscience one needs to think only who could be the next pope for today’s Church, but one needs to think with maximum  serenity and with the maximum profound sense of the Church. Without problems.


What was your experience of the ‘Sede Vacante’ of six years ago?

I lived throughout that period of time with great serenity and love towards the Church.


What role does the Cardinal have in today’s world and Church?


The Cardinal’s role in the Church and today’s world is the same role as it has always been. Nowadays, Cardinals need to be close to the Pope in the study and in the search for solutions for those problems which contemporary society has imposed in this era in which the Church is living; because the Church lives together with and in society. Therefore the Cardinals have this task: to help His Holiness the Pope, as they have always done, in solving today’s problems. They should therefore embrace their traditional role in the Church, which must also be adapted to current times.

Thanks







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