Podcast: How Pope Francis made new cardinals in a pandemic

Cardinals unable to come to Rome for the consistory because of the COVID-19 pandemic join their confreres by video link as Pope Francis creates 13 new cardinals during a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Nov. 28, 2020. (CNS photo/Fabio Frustaci, Reuters pool)

This weekend’s consistory, where Pope Francis created 13 new cardinals, only 11 of whom were physically present, will go down in history as one of the church’s most unique celebrations. Ordinarily, thousands of guests crowd into St. Peter’s Basilica for the creation of new cardinals, who are fêted before and after the ceremony in countless parties and receptions.

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This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the cardinal-designates’ days before the consistory included no such parties: Instead, they faced 10 days of quarantine in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, staying in their individual rooms and having meals delivered to the door. Several expressed in Zoom interviews their surprise at how strict the measures were.

This week on “Inside the Vatican,” host Colleen Dulle and veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell take a look at this year’s pared-down consistory and how Pope Francis has shifted the geography of the College of Cardinals. The hosts also discuss the Vatican’s similarly scaled-back Christmas plans and spend some time remembering soccer superstar Diego Maradona.

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