In an address to the College of Cardinals in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican, the Pope spoke very earnestly to us. He reminded us that the scarlet robe of the cardinals is a symbol of their readiness to undergo martyrdom. The Church explains this in the formula: “He who wears it must be willing to defend the faith usque ad effusionem sanguinis -even to the shedding of blood.” He spoke then of the English cardinal, John Firsher, who received the scarlet robe in the prison where he was confined for having opposed the king’s power over the universal Church, as whose representative he regarded the Pope, the Bishop of ROme. He was beheaded one month after he was raised to the cardinalate. We are reminded here also of a second aspect of this pontificate, which the Holy Father described in the Sistine Chapel in his first address to the world as “fidelitas” -fidelity. In saying this, he opposed to the superficial dichotomy of conservatism and progress the so-often-forgotten other dimension: fidelity, which is creative in its preservation of the Faith.
From: Ordinariatskorrespondenz, no. 36, November 9, 1978