Pilgrims at the consistory Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Fr. Steve Smith, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Dec. 02, 2010 -- 1:00 AM
Cardinal Raymond Burke, center, greets Bishop Robert C. Morlino, left, and Fr. Steve Smith during the events surrounding Cardinal Burke’s elevation. (Jennifer Brinker/St. Louis Review)

ROME, Italy -- At first the thought of standing in line for baggage, hotel rooms, metal detectors, tickets, admissions, etc. in my orthotic-assisted shoes was a bit daunting.

Yet I was delighted to be among those invited by Cardinal Raymond Burke to be part of the official delegation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. St. Louis Auxiliary Bishop Robert Herman often reminded us that we were pilgrims and not tourists. And pilgrims should expect difficulties. These difficulties did not take long in coming.

Security challenges

None of us expected 16,000 pilgrims trying to pass through six metal detectors to celebrate the elevation of 24 new cardinals. Virtually everyone wishing to enter the Vatican must now go through metal detectors.

On the Saturday morning of the consistory, the line waiting admission was several blocks long. Bishop Herman led the priests of the delegation without going through the metal detectors.

Unfortunately the laity from St. Louis could not do this and they were not allowed into the Basilica of St. Peter. They stood in the rain outside of the basilica.

We were all rewarded on Sunday (the Mass at which the new cardinals received their cardinal rings) by being able to by-pass security and be among the first to enter into the basilica.

Mass of Thanksgiving

On Monday morning we had a special Mass of Thanksgiving at the North American College.  Madison diocesan seminarian Scott Jablonski served the ceremonies.

Fr. Greg Ihm (recently ordained priest of the Diocese of Madison) and I, along with about 75 priests and 13 bishops -- including our Bishop Robert C. Morlino -- concelebrated this Mass.

During his homily Cardinal Burke spoke of the honor that the Holy Father had conferred upon him and of the role of the cardinals in the Church.

Cardinals, through their lives and actions, need always be models of faith and Christian living. He noted that his discipline of canon law is often viewed as an encumbrance to Christian living. Yet human beings need laws and ways of facilitating Christian living.

Exceeded expectations

The number of those traveling to Rome to honor Cardinal Burke greatly exceeded expectations. The gala banquet had to be converted into a gala buffet because the facilities at the Apostolic Signatura could not seat 500 guests.

The new cardinal graciously stood in line to receive friends and acquaintances for hours at receptions that evening and at the North American College and the Papal Apartments.

In addition to Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., cardinals from South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia received the red hat. Together we prayed for great Church leaders and for the faith that unites us.

Fr. Steve Smith is pastor of Christ the King Parish, McFarland, and a long-time friend of Cardinal Raymond Burke.

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