Pope de­cries surge of po­lar­iza­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

VAT­I­CAN CITY: Pope Fran­cis yes­ter­day de­cried what he called a po­lar­iz­ing surge in much of the world to ex­clude peo­ple with dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties, races or be­liefs as ene­mies, as he led a cer­e­mony wel­com­ing 17 new car­di­nals from six con­ti­nents.

The con­sis­tory cer­e­mony in St. Peter’s Basil­ica for­mally in­ducted the church­men into the car­di­nals’ ranks. One of the new “princes of the church,” as the car­di­nals are some­times called, an 87-year-old bishop from Le­sotho, Africa, was too frail to at­tend the cer­e­mony; his red hat will be de­liv­ered to him, the pope an­nounced in Latin.

Fran­cis used his homily to en­cour­age the new crop of car­di­nals to be near to, not re­mote from, the flocks of faith­ful they will lead. He said love is needed for “the con­ver­sion of our piti­ful hearts that tend to judge, di­vide, op­pose and con­demn,” and cau­tioned somberly against those who “raise walls, build bar­ri­ers and la­bel peo­ple.” “We see, for ex­am­ple, how quickly those among us with the sta­tus of the stranger, an im­mi­grant, or a refugee, be­come a threat, take on the sta­tus of an en­emy. An en­emy be­cause they come from a dis­tant coun­try, or have dif­fer­ent cus­toms,” the pope said.

De­fy­ing Pence

Popes, in se­lect­ing car­di­nals, look for men who share their ap­proach to the church’s mis­sion in the world. Among the newly made car­di­nals is In­di­anapo­lis Arch­bishop Joseph Tobin, who de­fied the gov­er­nor of the US state of In­di­ana, Mike Pence, by wel­com­ing Syr­ian refugees. Tobin in Jan­uary will be­come arch­bishop of Ne­wark, New Jersey; Pence will be in­stalled as vice pres­i­dent of the United States.

The new car­di­nals who pledged loy­alty to the pope on Satur­day in­cluded pre­lates from Africa, Asia, Europe, Ocea­nia, and North and South Amer­ica. Some of their home­lands in­clude Pa­pua New Guinea, Mau­ri­tius, Malaysia, Venezuela, Mex­ico, Bangladesh and Brazil. One of them, an 88-year-old Al­ba­nian priest, Ernest Si­moni, per­son­ally knew the suf­fer­ing caused by ha­tred. Si­moni spent 18 years in prison be­cause of his faith, fac­ing both soli­tary con­fine­ment and hard la­bor, in his home­land dur­ing its com­mu­nist regime. Since car­di­nals are usu­ally bish­ops al­ready, Fran­cis be­stowed a rare honor on giv­ing that rank to Si­moni, a sim­ple priest. Af­ter Si­moni kneeled be­fore Fran­cis to re­ceive his red hat, he clasped the pope’s hand tightly and seemed to fight back tears.

When Fran­cis vis­ited Al­ba­nia in 2014, he was brought to tears af­ter Si­moni told him how he was per­se­cuted. Si­moni, who worked to rec­on­cile feuds in many of that coun­try’s vil­lages, af­ter decades of serv­ing clan­des­tinely as a priest un­til the coun­try’s com­mu­nist rule ended in 1990. — AP

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