Pope warns church against mediocrity as he is joined by new cardinals at Mass

Cardinals often advise popes and pick the next pontiff.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass

Pope Francis, joined by the church’s newest cardinals at a Mass on Sunday, has warned against mediocrity as well as seeking out “godfathers” to promote one’s own career.

Eleven of the 13 new cardinals sat near the central altar of St Peter’s Basilica, where Francis on Saturday had bestowed upon them the red hats symbolising that they are now so-called princes of the church.

Two of the new cardinals could not make it to Rome because of pandemic travel complications. The cardinals who did come to the Vatican wore protective masks and purple vestments, as the church began the solemn liturgical season of Advent in the run-up to Christmas.

In his homily, Francis decried what he called “a dangerous kind of sleep: It is the slumber of mediocrity”. He added that Jesus “above all else detests lukewarm-ness”.

Cardinals sit as Pope Francis celebrates Mass
Cardinals sit as Pope Francis celebrates Mass (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

Being chosen to head Vatican departments or eventually becoming pope themselves could be in the future of any of these new cardinals. Cardinals often advise popes and pick the next pontiff by conferring among themselves and then meeting in a secret conclave to select one of their own to lead the Roman Catholic Church and its roughly 1.3 billion rank-and-file faithful.

Francis has often warned against clericalism during his papacy, and he picked up on that theme in Sunday’s homily.

“If we are awaited in Heaven, why should we be caught up with earthly concerns? Why should we be anxious about money, fame, success, all of which will fade away?” the pope said.

Deviating from his prepared text, he added: “Why look for godfathers for promoting one’s career?”

Among those raised to the rank of cardinal on Saturday by Francis was the current archbishop of Washington, Wilton Gregory, the first African-American cardinal.

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