Nuncio on Cardinals Felix & Langlois: Best churchmen of the Caribbean

from Catholic News Saturday, 08 March 2014 22:15


More than 1,700 persons squeezed into the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Castries or huddled in tents outside for a Mass last Sunday to celebrate Kelvin Cardinal Felix’s recent induction into the College of CardinalsThe new Caribbean cardinals – Chibly Cardinal Langlois and Kelvin Cardinal Felix – in Rome shortly after the February 22

consistory. Photo Msgr Patrick Anthony

Cardinal Felix and the Nuncio, Archbishop Nicola Girasoli on their way to the Cathedral parish hall for vesting. Photo Laura Ann PhillipsCardinal Felix was the centre of attention as he made his way to the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Castries last Sunday. Photo Laura Ann PhillipsAmong the bishops attending last Sunday’s Mass in Castries were (from left) Archbishop Joseph Harris of Port of Spain, Archbishop Gilbert Marie Michel Méranville of MartiniqueArchbishop Emeritus Edgerton Clarke of Kingston, and Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Dominica. Photo Laura Ann PhillipsCardinal Felix greets members of the Knights of Columbus who formed a “guard of honour” at the entrance to the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Castries. Photo Laura Ann PhillipsThe Book of Gospels is carried to the altar by Benedictine nuns from Africa. They reverenced the Gospels by performing a traditional dance while in procession. Photo Malan Leonce

Although he is Dominican by birth, after 27 years of pastoring the Archdiocese of Castries, that is considered mere accident. Here, Kelvin Felix is Lucian.

Around the cathedral, snippets of conversation among the faithful suggested that, long after his retirement, his influence on the hearts and minds of St Lucian Catholics had scarcely waned. As he walked in procession through the main street on the way to the basilica, many people stopped their activities to gaze at the reality of one of their own so honoured.

Once outside the cathedral, the cardinal walked through a “guard of honour” formed by the Knights of Columbus, priests and deacons, and met Archbishop of Castries Robert Rivas at the main entrance. There, he ceremonially kissed a crucifix which the Archbishop held, before blessing the people gathered outside.

Concelebrating the Mass were Archbishop Rivas and Papal Nuncio Archbishop Nicola Girasoli. Archbishop Emeritus Edgerton Clarke of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica, seldom seen now outside of Jamaica, was present, as well as Archbishop Joseph Harris of Port of Spain, Archbishop Gilbert Marie Michel Méranville of Martinique, Bishop Francis Alleyne of Georgetown, and Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Dominica, to whom the Cardinal referred as “My bishop”, saying Bishop Malzaire “allowed me to serve as a parish priest in his diocese”.

Among the dignitaries present were St Lucia Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, St Lucia Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony, Deputy Prime Minister Philip J Pierre and Opposition Leader Dr Gale Rigobert.

Msgr Karel Kasteel of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples in Rome, whom Cardinal Felix described as “a great friend to the Caribbean Church”, read the English translation of the appointment letter which included the name of the Rome-based church to which the cardinal is assigned: Santa Maria della Salute a Primavalle. This is a formality; the cardinal is not expected to be involved in the day to day running of the particular parish, but will be more of a spiritual father to the parishioners, who are asked to pray for him.

“I have only been a cardinal for a few days,” he said, “but I feel I am standing on the shoulders of two great giants of the Church: Archbishop Anthony Pantin of Trinidad and Tobago and Archbishop Samuel Carter of Jamaica. They are the pioneers. They have worked hard to establish our Church in the Caribbean. I am sure in their place of rest in the Lord’s house, they are rejoicing.”

Archbishop Girasoli said he shared in the great joy of the Caribbean people at the appointment of two Caribbean men as cardinals (the other being Cardinal Chibly Langlois of Haiti), saying Pope Francis has chosen “the best churchmen of the Caribbean, two men who love the poor, who give voice to the voiceless”. He added that their role was to have open hearts and work for the Church.

At the same time, the Nuncio urged the faithful to be “more dynamic”.

“There are too many stale, dry Catholics!” he declared. “I want to see each Catholic more energetic in their faith! We must make a commitment to be enthusiastic – smile always!”

Laura Ann Phillips, St Lucia