Pope tells new cardinals to be humble and shun parties


Pope Francis has told the men he will elevate to the high rank of cardinal next month to be humble and shun lavish parties in their honour, saying they can do more damage than alcohol on an empty stomach.

"It is not easy to be humble servants if you see the role of a cardinal as a position of power or superiority," he said in a letter written to each of the cardinals-to-be and published in the Vatican newspaper on Friday.

He also told them to beware that parties held for them by faithful from their countries do not become fancy social events that can disorient them and "stun someone more than grappa on an empty stomach." Grappa is a very strong Italian liquor.

Francis, who has insisted that Roman Catholic Church leaders should serve the poor and not be careerists, will induct the 20 new cardinals at a Vatican ceremony on February 14.

In the past, some prelates celebrated their elevation to the rank of cardinal with lavish receptions in their home dioceses or in Rome. In the letter, Francis told them they should not see their new position as a "prize" to celebrate.