Self-described ‘ordinary kiwi bloke’ Archbishop John Dew officially became a new cardinal as he was inducted into the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis at St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, on 14 February 2015.
Addressing the new cardinals, Pope Francis said, ‘The cardinalate is certainly an honour, but it is not honorific. This we already know from its name – ‘cardinal’ – from the word ‘cardo’, a hinge. As such …it is a pivot, a point of support and movement essential for the life of the community. You are ‘hinges’ and are ‘incardinated’ in the Church of Rome, which ‘presides over the entire assembly of charity.
‘The greater our responsibility in serving the Church, the more our hearts must expand according to the measure of the heart of Christ.’
Speaking on behalf of the newly-created cardinals, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, expressed gratitude, loyalty and generosity of spirit in service to the Church. ‘Becoming part of the College of Cardinals places us in a special way in the life and history of the Church of Rome which, in the expression of St Ignatius of Antioch, presides in love. We are invited to move beyond ourselves, our habits and comfort zones, to serve the mission of this Church, and having broader horizons. The whole world is truly present here as the new cardinals are expressions of all the continents. Belonging to the Church of Rome means serving the communion of the universal Church…constantly nourished by the love of Christ, that obliges us to live no longer for ourselves but for Him who dies and rose again for us.’
Cardinal John, who remains Archbishop of Wellington and President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, was the fourth of the new Cardinals to kneel before the Pope and declare fidelity and obedience to him and his successors. Declaring our archbishop a cardinal, Pope Francis placed a gold ring on his finger, symbolising close ties to the papacy, and a red biretta on his head.
Because the College of Cardinals were traditionally the clergy of Rome, Cardinal John has been assigned the title of Cardinal-priest of a parish there. His ‘titular’ parish will be Sant’Ippolito (www.santippolito.org).
At the ceremony the new cardinals declared fidelity and obedience to the Holy Father and his successors.
After the consistory, Cardinal John said he felt the support, wishes and prayers of people from New Zealand and around the world. ‘Despite it being very overwhelming, especially in the beginning, the support has been strong and tangible.
‘I was really conscious of this feeling as I walked into St Peter’s Basilica for the ceremony. I knew that many faithful were praying for me, which was a wonderful feeling,’ he said.
Cardinal John celebrated a Mass at St Paul’s Basilica Outside the Walls with about 30 friends, supporters and close family members, including his two sisters. He dedicated the Mass to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.
After his arrival in Rome and in the days leading up to the consistory, Cardinal John used his Facebook page (CardinalJohnDew) to offer insights to the people back home. These included into preparations for the consistory and participation in the College of Cardinals meeting called by Pope Francis to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia. Catholics throughout New Zealand could watch the moment on a live internet feed from the Vatican.
The announcement that John Dew was to be made a cardinal has captured the imagination of people throughout New Zealand, from many walks of life. ‘I’m honoured and humbled to be given this new task in my priestly vocation and in representing the people of Aotearoa New Zealand,’ said Cardinal John.
Simone Olsen is the Communications Adviser for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.