|His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, receiving the red biretta from, and pledging fidelity to, His Holiness, Benedict XVI.|
[UPDATE: The Review's consistory page has been updated to include a nice slide show of photos from the day-- including a photo of His Eminence with another Cardinal, pitcher Jeff Suppan.]
Pope Benedict XVI formally created 24 new cardinals today amid cheers in St. Peter's Basilica, bringing a mostly Italian group into the elite club that will eventually elect his successor.
Among those elevated was former St. Louis archbishop Raymond Burke.
Speaking in Latin, Benedict read out each of the names of the new "princes of the church" at the start of the Mass, eliciting roaring applause from the pews and smiles from the cardinals themselves.
Wearing their new scarlet cassocks _ to signify their willingness to shed blood for the church _ the cardinals processed first into the basilica, waving to well-wishers as organ music thundered in a festive yet solemn atmosphere.
The basilica was awash in red as some 150 cardinals from around the world came to Rome for the occasion of welcoming in their newest members.
The 24 new cardinals include heads of Vatican congregations, archbishops of major cities in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, and retired prelates honored for their lifelong service to the church.
Their numbers bring the College of Cardinals to 203, 121 of whom are under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.
Among the youngest of those, at age 62, is Burke, the former St. Louis archbishop. Before today, just six of the 179 cardinals were younger than the 62-year-old Burke. That could make him a key figure when it comes to a cardinal's most important job: electing the next pope.
Current St. Louis archbishop Robert Carlson issued a statement expressing the Archdiocese prayerful support of Burke.
"During the past several weeks, many priests, religious and lay people in the Archdiocese of St. Louis have told me how proud they are to have their former Archbishop receive this important responsibility," Carlson's statement said.
Benedict, 83, told the men of their new mission as cardinals, saying they must devote themselves totally to the church and to Christ. In his homily, he asked the faithful to pray for them, saying:
"Let the Lord's spirit support these new cardinals in the commitment of service to the church, following Christ of the Cross even if necessary to shed their blood, always ready ... to respond to whatever is asked."
During the ceremony, the new cardinals each promised to obey the pope, reading an oath in Latin to maintain communion with the Holy See, keep secrets given to them and not divulge anything that might bring harm onto the church.
After pledging the oath, each new cardinal walked up to the pontiff who was seated on a gilded throne on the altar to receive his red zucchetto, or skullcap, and biretta, a three-ridged hat worn over it.
Applause broke out again as each received the pope's blessing and kissed his ring.