VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Thousands of pilgrims from around the world are expected at the Feb. 21 consistory where John Paul II will create a record 44 cardinals.
According to a Vatican press statement, the pilgrims who attend the Wednesday general audience on that day will be able to participate in the ceremony, together with the relatives and friends of the new princes of the Church.
The Pope will read the traditional formula for the "creation" of cardinals, and then pronounce the names of the new members of the college.
The first cardinal designated by the Pope, Italian Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, will thank the Pontiff on behalf of all the new cardinals. Then, following the Pope's address, the new cardinals will swear loyalty and obedience to the Bishop of Rome, and promise fidelity to the Church to the point of martyrdom.
John Paul II will then put the red biretta on each of the cardinals, reminding them that it is "red as a sign of the dignity of cardinalship, which signifies that they must be prepared to conduct themselves with fortitude, to the point of spilling their blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, the peace and tranquility of the people of God, and the liberty and diffusion of the holy Roman Church."
Finally, the Holy Father will give them the Bull of Creation of Cardinal and the assignment of the title or deaconry, ending with the kiss of peace. The cardinals will then embrace one another.
On the following day, again in St. Peter's Square, the Pope will concelebrate Mass with all the cardinals, during which he will give them their rings, a "sign of dignity, pastoral solicitude, and deep communion with the See of Peter."
John Paul II announced 37 new cardinals on January 21. A week later, in a surprise move, he designated an additional five cardinals and revealed the names of two others whom he selected secretly in 1998.
With the new appointments, there will be 185 cardinals, of whom 135 would be young enough to elect a pope in a conclave.