If we could ask Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Pius V, Blessed Pius IX, Saint Pius X, and Venerable Pius XII what was the basis of their assessments in deciding on which Prelates to bestow the sacred scarlet of the cardinalate, we would hear from each of them, without exception, that the main requirement for becoming princes of the Holy Roman Church is holiness of life, excellence in particular virtues, erudition in the ecclesiastical disciplines, wisdom in the exercise of authority, and faithfulness to the Apostolic See and the Vicar of Christ.
Many of the Cardinals created by these popes went on to become popes themselves; others distinguished themselves for their contribution to the government of the Church; still others merited to be elevated to the glory of the altars and to be proclaimed Doctors of the Church, like Saint Charles Borromeo and Saint Robert Bellarmine.
Likewise, if we could ask the cardinals created by Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Pius V, Blessed Pius IX, Saint Pius X, and Venerable Pius XII how they considered the dignity to which they had been elevated, they would have responded, without exception, that they felt themselves to be unworthy of the role they held and confident that they would receive the assistance of the Grace of state.
All of these, from the most famous to the least known, considered it essential for their own sanctification to give proof of absolute fidelity to the immutable Magisterium of the Church, heroic witness to the Faith by the preaching of the Gospel and the defense of revealed truth, and filial obedience to the See of Peter, the Vicar of Christ and the successor of the prince of the Apostles.
Anyone who would today pose these questions to the one who is seated on the throne and to those whom he has elevated to the cardinalate would discover with great scandal that the appointment of cardinals is considered to be the same as any prestigious appointment in a civil institution, and that it is not the virtues required for the office of cardinal that lead to the choice of this or that candidate, but rather his level of corruptibility, his blackmailability, and his adherence to this or that political current.
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