Last weekend, as we worshiped, our Holy Father Pope Francis announced his intention to create seventeen churchmen, mostly archbishops, new Cardinals for the Church at a Consistory to occur late next month in Rome. Each responded to the announcement in his own chosen manner, usually involving a press conference. Before such media events were an option, there was a small ceremony where the designated Cardinal-to-be would receive his “ticket” announcing the Holy Father’s intention, and then give a speech to the people invited to the event. I recently learned of the famous “biglietto speech” of Blessed John Henry Newman, which he delivered shortly before being “raised to the sacred Purple” in May of 1879.
Such is the state of things …; but it must not be supposed for a moment that I am afraid of it. I lament it deeply, because I foresee that it may be the ruin of many souls; but I have no fear at all that it really can do aught of serious harm to the Word of God, to Holy Church, to our Almighty King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Faithful and True, or to His Vicar on earth. Christianity has been too often in what seemed deadly peril, that we should fear for it any new trial now. So far is certain; on the other hand, what is uncertain, and in these great contests commonly is uncertain, and what is commonly a great surprise, when it is witnessed, is the particular mode by which, in the event, Providence rescues and saves His elect inheritance. Sometimes our enemy is turned into a friend; sometimes he is despoiled of that special virulence of evil which was so threatening; sometimes he falls to pieces of himself; sometimes he does just so much as is beneficial, and then is removed. Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God.
I have not studied the remarks of any of the new Cardinals-to-be; perhaps such greatness is revealed in some of them. But as my own dear friend, Cardinal Baum, would have agreed in the face of such eloquent insight and truth, they don’t make them like that anymore – speeches, that is. Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!