The Pope addressed the gathering at noon on Nov. 26 in the Pope Paul VI Hall. He first greeted American Cardinal Harvey, Indian Cardinal Thottunkal, Nigerian Cardinal Onaiyekan and Filipino Cardinal Tagle in English, before addressing Cardinal Raï in French and Colombian Cardinal Salazar in Spanish.

As the Pope addressed Lebanese Cardinal Boutros Raï and his family in French, the Pope recalled his recent visit to Lebanon, saying that those days were ”happy memories.” "I wish to encourage life and particularly the presence of Christians in the Middle East where they must live their faith freely, and start again an urgent appeal for peace in the region," he said. "The Church encourages all efforts for peace in the world, and the Middle East peace will only be effective if it is based on a genuine respect for each other."

"I invite everyone to raise fervent prayers for the new cardinal, that he is increasingly linked to the Successor of Peter and to work tirelessly with the Apostolic See. Ask God also to assist him with his gifts, so that it remains a witness to the truth of the Gospel of salvation, righteousness and faithfulness …”

He told the new cardinals that their "ministry has been enhanced with a new commitment to supporting the Successor of Peter, in his service to the Church universal."



.- The six new cardinals from various parts of the globe shared their excitement after making their vows to Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines said that being made a cardinal has made him feel “excited and tired,” as well as a bit stunned. Pope Benedict swore-in the cardinals at a Nov. 24 consistory at which the men promised to praise God and be faithful to the Apostolic See “even to the shedding of blood.” The Pope chose them from six different countries and they will now lead over 230 million Catholics of the world’s 1.2 billion.

"It’s a new phase and ministry and a lot of responsibility," Cardinal Tagle told CNA. "I hope this helps the Philippines.”

The cardinals will be in regular contact with Pope Benedict, and will help him carry out the Church’s top priority of re-announcing the Gospel to an increasingly secular world. For some of the cardinals, being in regular contact with the Pope is not new.

Cardinal Tagle recalled that he regularly met with the future Pope when he was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. "From 1997 up to 2003 I was a member of the International Theological Commission of which our current Pope was also a member, and so I had a chance to work with him for more than five years," he said.

The newest American cardinal, James Michael Harvey, kept his remarks brief. After declining interviews with the media at the cardinals’ reception that followed the consistory, Cardinal Harvey simply said, "I’m very excited to be a cardinal now."

Cardinal Harvey is no stranger to Pope Benedict. For the past 14 years he has led the Papal Household, which involves scheduling the Pope’s meetings and maintaing daily contact with the pontiff. Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan was asked what it felt like to receive the ring from the Holy Father.

"Is that an interview?" he replied with a laugh. "You should see what it feels like. It’s a great honor and I thank God for this incredible blessing."

Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, who comes from India, heads the Syro-Malankara Rite of the Church. Alongside the Maronite and Syriac Catholic rites, it forms part of the West Syrian branch of the Church. "I’m so happy that the Malankara section of the St. Thomas Christians is inducted to the consultation of the Holy Father by nominating the head of the Malankara church as a cardinal," Cardinal Thottunkal said.

"The Malankara church is important in India because the Church is universal. The Church in India is an apostolic Church as old as Christianity itself – 2,000 years, and we belong to that."

After his first Mass as cardinal at St. Peter’s Basilica on Nov. 25, he noted that "the Holy Father has elected six new cardinals from all over the world, representing not only different continents and different churches, but also various nationalities."

Cardinal Thottunkal sees his elevation as keeping India “in the mainstream.”

“India is an emerging power, socially and economically, and in the Church it is also re-confirmed that the Holy Father has a special place for the Church in India," he said.

There are 20 million Catholics in India, and of that total 437,000 belong to the Syro-Malankara Rite.