Pope Benedict installed 15 new cardinals during a mass in Saint Peter's Square urging them to be passionate in their love for Christ and work towards the full unity of Christians. The new cardinals swore their allegiance to the pope and the Catholic Church.
A huge crowd was gathered in Saint Peter's Square for the first assembly of cardinals of Pope Benedict's papacy. During the ceremony, the pope formally installed 15 new cardinals from 11 different countries, bringing the total number of cardinals to 193.
The new cardinals include Hong Kong's bishop Joseph Zen, an outspoken critic of China, Pope John Paul II's longtime private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz and the Vatican's new head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop William Levada.
The former archbishop of San Francisco, Levada, 69, is the most senior of the new cardinals. He shot to prominence last May when Pope Benedict XVI, soon after his election, unexpectedly appointed him to take his place as the Vatican's new chief doctrinal watchdog.
During the Friday morning ceremony, he was the first to address the pope with a message from the new cardinals.
"We feel profoundly the task of grave responsibility, which requires an unceasing commitment of total love and unconditioned loyalty to Christ the Lord and to the Christian people," he said.
Pope Benedict addressed his new close advisers, who come from 11 different countries. He said that while it's true that over the centuries, the College of Cardinals has changed in many ways, the substance and essential nature of this important body remains unaltered.
The pope said the new call the prelates have received should inspire them to a passionate love for Christ, his Church and for all of humanity. He said he counted on them to hasten and secure the path to the full unity of Christians.
I am counting on you, on the entire College of Cardinals, the pope said, to proclaim to the world that "Deus Caritas est", and to do so above all through the witness of sincere communion among Christians.
After his homily, the new cardinals swore their allegiance to the pope and the Catholic Church. Each one of them approached the pope, kneeled before him and received the three-cornered red "biretta" or cap. The color red symbolizes not only the dignity of the new office but also the cardinal's willingness to shed blood in the defense of the Church.