In new cardinals, Francis reflects global Church

During his Sunday Angelus Jan. 12, Pope Francis named 19 new cardinals-designate and announced that a consistory would be held on Feb. 22 for their formal induction into the College of Cardinals. This will be the first such consistory for the pope since his election last year and gives a clear indication of Pope Francis’ priorities for the college.

While the pope took no revolutionary steps, he did increase the total number of cardinals to 218, and the number of cardinal electors (those under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave) to 122, thus setting aside briefly the limit of 120 electors established by Pope Paul VI. Two current cardinal electors, however, will turn 80 in March, meaning the number of electors will return soon to the limit. Pope John Paul II also exceeded the limit several times. There are also three new cardinals over the age of 80 whose appointment is in recognition of their service to the Church. One of them, Archbishop Loris Capovilla, 98, was secretary to Blessed John XXIII.

Geographic expansion

Quevedo
Archbishop Orlando Quevedo CNS photo

In one notable innovation, Pope Francis named new members from places that have never had a cardinal. Bishop Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes is the first cardinal from Haiti, while Archbishop Orlando Quevedo is the first cardinal from the Archdiocese of Cotabato in the Philippines. In Italy, Pope Francis passed over the long-standing cardinal-headed sees of Venice and Turin to give the red hat to Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Città della Pieve.

The list is immediately striking in several other regards. First, Pope Francis is clearly seeking to internationalize the college further, in much the same way as previous popes, especially Popes Pius XII, Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II. In all, there are eight cardinals from Europe, five from Latin America, two from Africa, two from Asia, one from North America and one from the Caribbean. There are no new cardinals from the United States. Pope Francis is looking at Latin America as a priority. Five of the new cardinals-designate are from Latin America or the Caribbean, increasing by a third the number of Latin American cardinals and acknowledging that some 40 percent of the world’s Catholics are located there.

But Pope Francis is also concerned with having a college that represents the universal Church and that can speak powerfully and prophetically to the entire world. For that reason, two choices were quite significant — the African Archbishop Philippe Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and the Haitan Bishop Langlois. These two new cardinals come from some of the poorest countries in the world and will give additional voice within the college to the painful and pressing concerns of the vast numbers who live in poverty.

Pope Francis did not significantly reduce the numbers and influence of European and North American cardinals and Italians in particular, as there will be six new European cardinal electors, including one from Great Britain, Vincent Nichols the archbishop of Westminster; four from Italy; and one from Canada, the archbishop of Québec, Gérard Lacroix. Three of the Italians are in posts in the Roman Curia, which traditionally bring automatic appointment to the college, such as the Italian Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the recently named Secretary of State, and another European, the German Gerhard Ludwig Müller, currently the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Curial cardinals continue to represent 34 percent of the cardinal electors, and Italians are still 24 percent. Nevertheless, Francis’ curial choices are officials he trusts the most to push ahead with his reforms. He has relied heavily in his first year on the institution of the Secretariat of State to begin his reform of the Vatican establishment.By appointing Archbishop Parolin and several other officials who come out of the Secretariat, the pope is cementing their prominence in his pontificate.

Pope Francis is looking for a global Church to be reflected in the college, but he is also relying on experienced Vatican hands for reform of the papal government. He seeks a college that mirrors his own key concerns, and given the fact that there will be dozens of cardinals turning 80 during the next few years, he is poised to transform the membership and shape directly the election of his successor.

A closer look

Archbishop Müller, 66, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 and was a prominent theologian before his appointment in 2002 as bishop of Regensburg.

He is the author of more than 400 books and articles on theology.

Archbishop Parolin, 59, was named the Vatican Secretary of State last October after a long career in the Secretariat of State and diplomatic corps of the Holy See. He served as nuncio, or papal ambassador, to Venezuela during the last years of the presidency of Hugo Chavez, and he was a moderating voice in the face of Chavez’s anti-Church rhetoric.

Archbishop Orani Tempesta, 63, has been the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro since 2009. He is shepherd to nearly 4 million Catholics. A member of the Cistercian order, Archbishop Tempesta is best known for hosting Pope Francis for World Youth Day in July 2013.

Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, 70, has been the archbishop of Seoul, South Korea, since 2012. He is the descendant of two martyrs for the Faith who were put to death by the Korean government during anti-Catholic persecutions in 1850.

His two younger brothers also followed him into the priesthood.

Bishop Langlois, 55, is the bishop of Les Cayes, in Haiti, and is the country’s first cardinal. A bishop since 2004, he studied in Rome at the Pontifical Lateran University and is presently the President of the Haitian Episcopal Conference.

The youngest of the new cardinals, he will be the second youngest member of the college. His motto: “Serve God and Humanity in Love.”

Matthew Bunson is OSV’s senior correspondent.

The New Cardinals
Archbishop Pietro Parolin, 59, Vatican Secretary of State, Italy.