Three Countries Get First Cardinal Ever

As of tomorrow, bishops from Burma, Tonga and Cape Verde will become members of the College of Cardinals.

Cardinals participate Feb. 12 in the opening day of this month's consistory at the Vatican.
Cardinals participate Feb. 12 in the opening day of this month's consistory at the Vatican. (photo:

VATICAN CITY — The different cultures represented by bishops who will be created cardinals this weekend demonstrate the Church’s universality, thereby enriching the College of Cardinals, says the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Referring to those countries never before represented by a red hat, Cardinal Fernando Filoni told CNA their presence “is also making the Church very universal, not only in name, but also, in fact, in presence. These different cultures are enriching the cardinals’ college.”

Of the 20 cardinals who are to be created during the Feb. 14 consistory in the Vatican, three hail from countries that have never before been represented by a cardinal: Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon, Burma; Bishop Soane Mafi of Tonga; and Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado of Santiago de Cabo Verde, Cape Verde.

In the two days leading up to Saturday’s consistory, the College of Cardinals is holding meetings to discuss reform at the Roman Curia.

Cardinal Filoni said that, during these meetings, the new cardinals typically “bring to the attention of everyone their point of view” and will also have the “opportunity to better know our work and how we do things.”

He added that there is a “balance of understanding and bringing,” noting that it “is very useful for us to listen, being here, and for them to understand and reach in.”

The Italian prelate also noted how, during past consistories, new prelates are asked to be part of “the most important moments of decisions, either to bring something or to listen to what is going on.”

“It’s not just what others of different minds report, but also what they themselves could listen to and see,” he said. “This opportunity of having this consistory is responding to their desire, but at the same time to give them this opportunity and to us, too.”

Pope Francis addressed the cardinals Feb. 12 at the opening of the consistory, stressing, “Reform is not an end in itself, but a means to give a strong Christian witness” and “to promote a more effective evangelization; to promote a more fruitful ecumenical spirit; to encourage a more constructive dialogue with all.”

Pope Francis released the names of the new cardinals during his Jan. 4 Angelus address, having announced that the consistory would take place the previous fall.



Of the 20 new cardinals, 15 will be cardinal-electors, able to participate in future conclaves. The 15 new cardinal-electors come from 14 nations: five are from Europe, three from Asia, three from Latin America, two from Africa and two from Oceania.

The day following the consistory, Pope Francis and the new cardinals will concelebrate a solemn Mass  in St. Peter’s Basilica.