Oath of Fidelity
New cardinals make the sign of the cross during the consistory in St Peter’s Square. Pope John Paul II elevated 30 prelates from around the world to cardinal during the ceremony
Each of them promised to “be faithful henceforth and forever, while I live, to Christ and his Gospel, being constantly obedient to the Holy Roman Apostolic Church, to Blessed Peter in the person of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, and of his canonically elected successors; to maintain communion with the Catholic Church always, in word and deed; not to reveal to any one what is confided to me in secret, nor to divulge what may bring harm or dishonour to Holy Church; to carry out with great diligence and faithfulness those tasks to which I am called by my service to the Church, in accord with the norms of the law”.
The atmosphere in and around the square was a combination of strict formality, patriotic fervour and familial pride as Pope John Paul II elevated the new cardinals.
In the morning ceremony, cardinals and bishops in their formal red and purple robes flanked the flower-festooned stage in front of St Peter’s Basilica.
Near them, the official escorts known as “papal gentlemen” and many members of national delegations wore formal morning coats with tails.
Every single step of the ceremony was carefully choreographed, in keeping with centuries of tradition.
When it came time to receive their red hats, the new cardinals were escorted, one at a time, to kneel before Pope John Paul II and kiss his ring. The audience in the square was not bound by the same degree of formality, though.
Guests waved flags, banners and signs and cheered as each new cardinal’s name was read out.
The atmosphere was also festive at public receptions held later for the new cardinals.