Following Pope Francis’ announcement of his intention to create Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa a Cardinal, the Italian Capuchin priest says his new role will be an opportunity to help the Pope through prayer.
By Devin Watkins
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. has described the news of his creation as a Cardinal as “a recognition of the Word of God, more than of the person.”
Pope Francis announced the Preacher to the Papal Household’s creation as Cardinal at the Angelus on Sunday.
In an interview with Vatican News’ Benedetta Capelli, Cardinal-elect Cantalamessa praised God for his nomination and linked it closely to the Word of God.
Finding time for the Word
He said he was full of admiration for those who listened to his preaching.
“To think that a Pope – like John Paul II, Benedict, and Francis – would find time to listen to a poor, simple Capuchin is an example that they give to the Church of esteem for the Word of God,” said Fr. Cantalamessa. “In a certain sense, it is they who are preaching to me.”
Sign of unity and dialogue
The 86-year-old Italian added that – notwithstanding orders to the contrary – he plans to continue his mission of preaching to the Papal Household, starting with the upcoming Advent preaching series.
He said he was surprised to have received so many outpourings of support and affection from people around the world, including several Jewish friends.
“I was greatly pleased,” Fr. Cantalamessa said. “It has always been one of my passions to promote unity and dialogue.”
He noted that their expressions of support are a confirmation for him of “signs of a reawakening that has little to do with me.”
“It’s an aspect related to the great efforts of Pope Francis to build bridges,” he said.
Joy to support Pope through prayer
Fr. Cantalamessa went on to describe his vision of the Cardinalate and what role he has to play as a non-voting member of the College of Cardinals.
“Since this title is more honorary than effective for me,” he said, “my goal and joy are to be able to be near the Pope and to support him through prayer and the Word.”
And for his part, Cardinal-elect Cantalamessa repeated Pope Francis’ invitation for all the faithful to pray for him and those who have received new roles of responsibility in the Church.