Pope Francis Names 20 New Cardinals

NEWS ANALYSIS: Fifteen of the men named Jan. 4 by the Holy Father will be able to vote in a papal conclave.

(photo: CNA file photo/Alan Holdren)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’s choice of 20 new cardinals announced on Sunday is consistent with the Holy Father’s wish to go out to the peripheries, but it also ran contrary to some expectations.

Speaking to pilgrims at the end of the Jan. 4 Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said that, on Feb. 14, he will have the “joy of holding” his second cardinal-making consistory, which manifests “the indissoluble links between the Church of Rome and the particular Churches present in the world.”

The College of Cardinals advises the Holy Father in the governance of the Church and elects the next pope, should he die or resign. The majority of the newly named cardinals come from the developing world, often from places where the faith is growing fastest or from countries that do not have a cardinal or have never had one.

In addition, the Holy Father also announced that five retired archbishops and bishops, “distinguished for their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the Church,” would also be made cardinals.

Of the new cardinals, six are from Europe, five come from Latin America, four are from Africa, three come from Asia and two come from Oceania.

None of the cardinal-designates is from North America.

“The most evident criteria is evidently that of universality,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in an accompanying note. He explained that no new cardinals for North America were named because the region already “has a significant number, and that number has remained stable during the past year.”

It’s also the case that three traditionally cardinalatial sees — Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago — have retired cardinals (Cardinals Roger Mahony, Justin Rigali and Francis George) under the age of 80 and so are still able to vote in a conclave.


Not Bound to Traditional Sees

But ages aside, Father Lombardi pointed out that the new nominations “confirm that the Pope is not bound to the traditions of the ‘cardinalatial sees’ — which were motivated by historical reasons in different countries — in which the cardinalate was considered almost ‘automatically’ connected to such sees.”

Instead, he said, several nominations are in sees that in the past have not had a cardinal. This applies, for example, to Italy, Spain, Mexico and Panama.

Italy remains well represented among voting cardinals, and, with this consistory, their number rises to 26; therefore, they will continue to have considerable influence in the next conclave. But traditional cardinalatial sees such as Turin and Venice (once considered to be a stepping stone to the papacy) are still led by prelates without “red hats.” The United States comes second in number, with 11 voting cardinals, although that will reduce to 10 in April, when Cardinal Rigali turns 80.

With the 15 new voting cardinals, Francis has exceeded the unofficial quota of 120 voting cardinals set by Blessed Pope Paul VI, but this is generally accepted as more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule. Father Lombardi noted that the Pope has remained “very close” to the quota, “such that it is substantially respected.”

Further, he noted that only one of those named is from the Roman Curia — Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura. He stressed that Curial cardinals remain a quarter of those eligible to vote in a conclave.

“It is evident that the Pope intends to consider the posts of prefects of the congregations and of some other very important institutions within the Curia — as, in this case, the tribunal of the signatura — as cardinalatial posts,” the Vatican spokesman said.


Not Automatic

In his choice of cardinals, the Pope has again shown his willingness to shake things up in the Vatican bureaucracy. As well as choosing not to immediately elevate bishops of traditionally cardinalatial sees, his omission of presidents of pontifical councils for the second consecutive consistory indicates that these positions no longer automatically warrant membership of the College of Cardinals. Again, this is indicative of the Pope’s wish to move away from traditional centers of power in favor of the periphery, as well as providing a possible antidote to careerism in the Curia.

The only Anglophone nominee is Archbishop John Dew of Wellington, New Zealand. In 2005, he advocated a new “pastoral approach” for allowing divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics to receive Communion. During last year’s synod on the family, he also voiced his support for a change in language when ministering to persons with same-sex attraction.

But contrary to expectations, Francis chose not to name Archbishop Bruno Forte a cardinal. The Italian archbishop is considered to be a rising star among those looking to reform the Church, especially in the area of pastoral practice. Close to Pope Francis, he is special secretary to the synod on the family and played a significant role in drafting the synod’s controversial interim report.


Relations With Vietnam

The Pope has looked to Vietnam, where the Holy See and the communist nation are seeking to establish full diplomatic relations, and named Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon of Hanoi a cardinal. Staying with Asia, a continent that is particularly dear to Pope Francis and probably with a view to increasing religious freedom there, the Holy Father has also given Archbishop Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar a red hat.

Italian Archbishop Francesco Montenegro is less of a surprise, given that the island of Lampedusa, a destination for many migrants and refugees, falls within his Archdiocese of Agrigento. The Holy Father, who has strongly condemned human trafficking and has frequently spoken out in defense of migrants, visited the island in July 2013.

More of a surprise was the awarding of red hats to bishops of remote nations, which hitherto have never had a cardinal, such as Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado of the island country of Cape Verde, Africa, and Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi of the island of Tonga and president of the bishops’ conference of the Pacific. Born in 1961, Bishop Mafi will be the youngest member of the College of Cardinals.

Among the retired prelates, the Pope unexpectedly awarded a red berretta to Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, a former head of the Vatican’s apostolic penitentiary (2001-2003) and a protégé of Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, who was the leading traditional voice at the Second Vatican Council.

The Pope also elevated Archbishop Emeritus Pimiento Rodriguez of Colombia. Cardinal-designate Pimiento turns 96 next month and is the oldest among the newly named cardinals.

The Pope called on the faithful to “pray for the new cardinals: that, renewed in their love for Christ, they might be witnesses of his Gospel in the city of Rome and in the world; and with their pastoral experience, they might support me more intensely in my apostolic service.”

Following is the complete list of cardinals named Sunday by Pope Francis.

Under the age of 80, with authority to vote in a papal conclave:

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
Archbishop Manuel José Macario do Nascimento Clemente, patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal
Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel of Ethiopia
Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of New Zealand
Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli of Italy
Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Văn Nhon of Viêtnam
Archbishop Alberto Suàrez Inda of Mexico
Archbishop Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar
Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Thailand
Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Italy
Archbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet of Uruguay
Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Spain
Bishop José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán of Panamá
Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado of Cape Verde
Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga

Past retirement age; cannot vote in a papal conclave:

Archbishop José de Jesús Pimiento Rodriguez, archbishop emeritus of Manizales, Colombia
Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, major pro-penitentiary emeritus, of Italy
Archbishop Karl-Joseph Rauber, apostolic nuncio to seven European countries, of Germany
Archbishop Emeritus Luis Héctor Villaba of Tucumán, Argentina
Júlio Duarte Langa, Bishop Emeritus of Xai-Xai, Mozambique

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.