Pope Opens Largest Meeting of Cardinals in History
Consistory to set priorities for Catholic Church as it enters the third millennium.
BY: Peggy Polk
In calling the sixth Extraordinary Consistory of his reign, the Roman Catholic pontiff had instructed the cardinals to study seven areas of action for the church, but in his brief opening address he stressed evangelization as the church's foremost task.
Asking the cardinals' help in drawing up "concrete programs" of evangelization for "the dawn of a new millennium," John Paul said, "We must give fire to prioritized missionary objectives and to the most suitable methods of work as well as searching for the necessary means."
In a questionnaire sent to the cardinals in advance, the pope asked how the church can evangelize in the context of dialogue and religious pluralism, make better use of its evangelical roots, maintain its originality in the face of New Age sects, improve its administrative functions, create a globalization of solidarity toward those in need, convince Catholics to accept church teaching on sexual morality and make better use of the mass media.
During three days of meetings with simultaneous interpretation in five languages and small, working-group sessions, the cardinals will draw up a report to the pope on goals for a revitalized church.
At a briefing on the first session, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that 16 cardinals opened debate on issues ranging from the primacy of the pope to the centrality of the family.
Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales of Rio de Janeiro declared that "loyalty to the pope and unity with the pope are integral parts of the Catholic faith," the spokesman said. Papal primacy is a key issue in ecumenical dialogue.