In an unprecedented and colorful outdoor ceremony in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II on Saturday installed 28 new cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, including strong-willed anti-Communist prelates from three Marxist-governed nations, Nicaragua, Ethiopia and Poland.
Addressing the thousands of people who used umbrellas and folded newspapers to shade themselves from the noonday sun in the square, the crimson-robed pontiff characterized his new appointees as being "of great significance for the life of the church as she travels the roads of the world and of history."
Imelda Marcos Watches
Among those who came from distant lands to see the installation of their home-country cardinals was First Lady Imelda Marcos of the Philippines, home of newly elevated Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, archbishop of Cebu. Others included the wife of Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York, who witnessed the elevation to cardinal of Archbishop John J. O'Connor of New York, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who came to see the elevation to cardinal of Simon Lourdusamy, former archbishop of Bangalore.
In his address, the Pope told the new cardinals that they should have no illusions about the way they will sometimes be received.
"They will often be made a sign of contradiction, sometimes even persecution," the pontiff said. He urged them not to be discouraged or pessimistic when attempts are made to oppose or stifle the message of the church.
"In the end, it will overcome all opposition, break through every barrier, reach every place. . . . The gospel message will emerge victorious, also from the persecutions of our own day," he said.
John Paul said that he still did not want to identify the cardinal he named "in pectore"-- in his heart--when he first named cardinals in June, 1979. There has been speculation that the secret cardinal is a prelate from the Soviet Union or China and that the pontiff feels he or the church might be targets of reprisals if his name were known.
The 28 new "princes of the church," from 18 countries, represented a further broadening of the once-Italian-dominated College of Cardinals, which John Paul has balanced with a number of Third World appointees in the three consistories he has called during his 6 1/2-year pontificate.
Noteworthy among the prelates upon whom he bestowed the crimson zucchetto, a skull cap, and biretta, a tri-cornered pillbox hat, in the televised ceremony on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, were the archbishop of Managua, Miguel Obando y Bravo, an outspoken opponent of Nicaragua's Sandinista government; Archbishop Henryk Roman Gulbinowicz, of Wroclaw, an anti-government supporter of Poland's outlawed Solidarity union, and Archbishop Paulos Tzadua, of Addis Ababa, whose promotion strengthens the church's hand against the Marxist government of Ethiopia.
Only two Americans, O'Connor and Archbishop Bernard Law of Boston, were elevated to the rank that stands just beneath the Pope in the church hierarchy and, when called upon by the death of a pontiff, elects a new Pope, traditionally from among its own number.
The elevations bring the total number of cardinals to 152, of whom 120 are under age 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a papal election. They represent 56 countries and every continent except Antarctica.
Breaking with tradition to accommodate the thousands who wanted to watch the ceremony, including more than 2,000 from New York alone, John Paul chose for the first time to hold the formal capping ceremony outdoors. Afterward, the new cardinals, joined by the 54 current cardinals who were present to approve of their appointments, moved indoors to receive simple gold rings, each decorated with a cross, from John Paul.