Cardinal Bertone's Homily at Ordination of Friar José Rodríguez Carballo

Franciscan Named Secretary of Vatican Congregation on Religious

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Eight cardinals (Bertone, Hummes, Maradiaga, Bráz de Avis, Monteiro, Bertello, Amigo and Cañizares), 10 archbishops (among them four nuncios) and 15 bishops of Spain and other countries, were present at the May 18 episcopal ordination of Friar José Rodríguez Carballo in Spain.

Friar Rodríguez Carballo was appointed by Pope Francis the secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Here is a translation of the text of the homily delivered during the celebration by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state.

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In this incomparable framework of the Cathedral of Compostela, I greet you with the words of the Saint of Assisi: “May the Lord give you peace.” I address with particular affection our beloved brother friar José Rodríguez Carbalho, up to now Minister General of the Franciscan Order of Minor Brothers, appointed by His Holiness, Pope Francis, Titular Archbishop of Belcastro and Secretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, who, in a brief moment, by the imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration, will become a Successor of the Apostles. Together with him, I greet his brothers, nephews and other relatives here present. 

The mystery is so great that you, dear friar José, are going to live in a brief moment, and by which you will receive the plenitude of the priesthood and be incorporated forever in the Episcopal College, that, in the most solemn moment of your episcopal ordination, human words are silenced. You, and with you all of us, recollect ourselves in silence to God, whose hand stretches out over you to make you His own and He covers you to protect you. If by your religious profession in the Franciscan Order, when you were only 18 years old, you ceased to belong to yourself and became the property of the Lord, now, by the imposition of hands in your episcopal ordination, you become totally the Lord’s who, knew you and chose you from the maternal womb (cf. Jr 1:5). 

The prayer of consecration indicates that it is the Lord Himself who consecrates you and assumes you totally to his service, making you a full sharer of His priesthood and adding you forever to the Episcopal College. Manifested thus is the divine gratuitousness and initiative in your vocation: “You did not choose me, but I chose you,” says the Lord (John 15:16). 

During the ordination, we will impose on the head of the ordained the Book of the Gospels. If as Religious friar José assumed the Gospel as a way of life, in as much as he professed “to live the Holy Gospel of Our lord Jesus Christ” (Saint Francis, 2 Rule 1, 1), now, by the episcopal ordination, the Gospel penetrates him and transforms him into a “living exegesis of the Word” (Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 83) or into a “living Gospel,” as is said of Saint Francis of Assisi. And given that the Gospel is not only Word but Christ Himself, with the imposition of the Book of the Gospels, he is asked to identify himself with the life itself of Christ, he is asked to live of Him, in Him and for Him, and that he be one with Him, in such a way that Jesus Himself gives form to his life and he is able to say with Saint Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Called to make Jesus Christ, High and Eternal Priest, sacramentally present among men, you will answer to such a high vocation and mission by living your episcopate in an attitude of service: “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God,” says the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 4:1). The bishop, following the example of Jesus, is called to behave as one who serves (cf. John 13:13-14). “Chosen from among men,” remember, brother José, that you have been “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God” (cf. Hebrews 5:1). In an attitude of minority, from the logic of the gift, with fidelity, prudence and goodness, give yourself unreservedly to all those persons the Lord puts in your way. 

In your case, by the will of Pope Francis, you are called at this time to collaborate with the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, so that the consecrated, in creative fidelity to Jesus, to their own charism and to the man of today, may be able to continue writing a great history in the life of the Church and at the service of humanity (cf. Vita Consecrata, 37.110). At all times, encourage religious and consecrated life to go from the good to the better, looking at the past with gratitude, embracing the future with hope, and living the present with enthusiasm (Cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 1).

To accomplish such a beautiful objective, keep in mind, in the first place, that “in an administrator, what is looked for is that he be faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). In as much as bishop, be faithful to the apostolic teaching, that in full communion with the Successor of Peter, you are called to transmit integrally, with your life and your word. Be faithful to the gift of God that is in you and that must be constantly renewed, as the Apostle asks (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6). Be faithful to the mission that the Holy Father Francis has entrusted to you. A great treasure has been entrusted to you, the treasure of religious and consecrated life, essential in the life and mission of the Church, as “it was desired by Jesus Himself as irremovable part of His Church” (Benedict XVI, Audience to the Bishops of Brazil, November 2010).

In the second place, the bishop, in as much as servant, must also be prudent. He is prudent who does not judge according to appearances or whims, but seeks the truth and gives it primacy in his life. In as much as bishop you must feel yourself a “mendicant of truth.” Always seek the truth, allow yourself to be molded by the Truth which is Christ and act according to it, and the truth will make you experience true freedom (cf. John 8:32).

The third characteristic, which must mark the life of a Bishop in as much as servant, is goodness. Good in the full sense, only God is (cf. Mark 10:18). He is, as Saint Francis says in one of his known prayers, “the Good, the whole Good, the Highest Good” (ALDA, 3), the Good par excellence, Goodness personified. The servant, and in our case the Bishop, will be good in the measure that his life is totally oriented to God, united interiorly to God living and true, through a personal relationship and an intense life of prayer. 

We are celebrating the Solemnity of Pentecost, feast of the Spirit, whom we confess as Lord and giver of life. On this day we implore his gifts upon the Church and, particularly, on friar José Rodríguez Carballo. We ask of the Spirit for the new Archbishop the gift of wisdom, to discern what comes from God and what is contrary to Him; the gift of understanding, so that he will be able to interpret the signs of the times and find the appropriate evangelical answer for them; the gift of counsel, so that he will speak always from God, and from Him be able to say a word of hope to the men and women of today; the gift of fortitude, so that he will be a witness of Christ and of His Gospel with fidelity and total dedication during his whole life; the gift of knowledge, so that he will penetrate the secrets of the Lord and be able to communicate them with simplicity and profundity; the gift of fear, so that he will always move away from anything that goes against the will of the Lord; the gift of piety, so that he will always maintain in his life a filial and confident relation with God, the Father of mercies.

The vocation and mission of the new Archbishop is not easy. What is more, I dare to say that if friar José leans only on his own strength, it would be impossible. But he is not alone. The Lord, who gave him the gift of being born and of being educated in a profoundly Christian family, and invited him to follow Him up close in the Franciscan life since he was a child -- as at ten and a half years of age he entered the Franciscan seminary of Herbon -- continued to love and accompany him. Friar José knows this, as he has experienced it many times in his life, “for with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Friar José knows, moreover, that the Spirit that today is shed upon him comes to the aid of his weakness, as Saint Paul asserted in the second reading (cf. Romans 8:26). Therefore, knowing whom he has believed, as the episcopal motto states (cf. 2 Timothy 1:12), with renewed dedication to the Lord, friar José says today as did the Most Holy Virgin: “Here I am, let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Fear not, friar José. You have our prayer and the prayer of thousands upon thousands of consecrated, and you have above all the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Dear friar José: May the Most Holy Virgin Mary, to whom since you were a child you have professed a tender and filial devotion in the names of Immaculate and of Sorrows, accompany you in your mission as bishop, at the service of the Church, of the People of God and, in particular, of religious and consecrated life. Fiat, fiat, amen, amen.

[Translation by ZENIT]