Pope Benedict will give 22 cardinals their red hats on Feb. 18.

January 23, 2012

In part to avoid giving the impression that becoming a cardinal is a sacrament or quasi-sacrament, Pope Benedict will use a streamlined prayer service to create 22 new cardinals in February.

"The rite used up to now has been revised and simplified with the approval of the Holy Father Benedict XVI," the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported Jan. 7.

The paper said there would not be a "ring Mass" the day after the consistory; the new cardinals will receive their red hats, their cardinal rings and the assignment of their titular churches in Rome during the same ceremony Feb. 18.

They still will celebrate Mass with the pope the day after the consistory; at the beginning of the Mass, the first of the new cardinals – Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples – will express thanks to the pope on behalf of the group.

The ritual was revised in order to maintain an atmosphere of prayer, while not giving the impression that becoming a cardinal is a liturgical event, the newspaper said.

"The creation of new cardinals should be located within a context of prayer while avoiding any element that could give the idea of a 'sacrament of the cardinalate,'" it said.

"In fact, historically the consistory was never considered a liturgical rite, but rather a meeting of the pope with the cardinals in relation to the governance of the Church."