Pope Names 15 New Cardinals Reflective of Diversity of the Faithful
VERBANIA, Italy — Pope Francis named 15 new cardinals from 14 countries on Sunday, continuing his efforts to diversify the church hierarchy and extend the global reach of the church.
Many of the new bishops and archbishops come from the developing world, including countries like Myanmar, Tonga and the Cape Verde islands that have never had a cardinal, Vaticanofficials said. In all, nine of those named Sunday come from developing countries.
It is a group representing “every continent, to manifest the indissoluble links between the Church of Rome and the particular churches present in the world,” the pope said to tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly prayer and blessing.
Of the new nominations, only five were European. Breaking with tradition, Francis bypassed many dioceses — mostly European — that traditionally have been selected for a seat in the College of Cardinals.
“He’s breaking all the patterns of cardinal nominations,” and even the bishops of dioceses that in the past led to a cardinal post “will have to earn his respect,” said Alberto Melloni, the director of the John XXIII Center in Bologna. “What’s striking is how quickly he broke with a centuries-old mechanism.”
North American dioceses were also overlooked, “because they already have a significant number, and that number has remained stable during the past year,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said in a note published Sunday.
“The most evident criteria is evidently that of universality,” Father Lombardi said. “Fourteen different countries are represented, including some that do not currently have a cardinal, and some that have never had one.”
The pope also named to the College of Cardinals five retired archbishops and bishops who he said were “distinguished for their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the church.” Because they are over 80 years of age, they cannot take part in the secret conclave that elects popes. Including these five, the number of countries represented rises to 18, Father Lombardi said.
“He’s emphasizing the notion that the Church really is universal, it’s not just a reflection of Europe, or of economically strong countries, even those that most support the church financially,” said Andrea Tornielli, coordinator of Vatican Insider. “Francis’ vision is of a truly universal church attentive to all the peripheries of the world,” he said.
The pope, Mr. Melloni said, has overthrown what was once a predictable system. “After today, it won’t be possible to say that any nomination is surprising,” he said.
In keeping with the theme of his papacy, Francis picked several prelates known for their pastoral activities, like Msgr. Francesco Montenegro, the archbishop of Agrigento, who has been closely involved in efforts to assist the tens of thousands of migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean and landed on the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Sicily as a stage in their perilous journeys to northern Europe.
Monsignor Montenegro accompanied the pope when he visited Lampedusa in July 2013, his first official trip outside Rome. There, Francis chided the world for its indifference to the suffering caused by forced migration, a subject he has returned to often.
“He made very free choices,” Mr. Tornielli said. “He has chosen pastors who are real pastors, even in smaller dioceses because they correspond to this pastoral vision.”
The new cardinals will be formally installed at a ceremony called a consistory on Feb. 14, Francis said, adding that he had convened the entire College of Cardinals for a two-day reflection “on the orientations and proposals for the reform of the Roman Curia,” the Vatican’s administrative bureaucracy.
Reforming the Curia has been a priority for Francis, who has established commissions to review both the Vatican’s finances and its inner workings. It was “notable,” Father Lombardi said, that only one of the new cardinals — Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura — is from the Roman Curia.
With the addition of the 20 new cardinals, the College of Cardinals now numbers 228, including 103 who are over 80.
Francis will now have chosen 31 of the 125 cardinals who will elect the next pope, including 16 cardinal electors of 19 cardinals named just under a year ago. They, too, came predominantly from countries in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mr. Melloni said it was hard to characterize the new cardinals, most of whom had risen in the church during the eras of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as strictly conservative or liberal.
Instead, it could be said that these new cardinals are likely to be more sensitive to the pope’s vision of “a church that goes to the peripheries, that renounces power in order to heal the wounds of suffering men and women, adopting a different attitude than that taken by some intransigent cardinals” that have recently challenged Francis on issues, Mr. Melloni said. “The new cardinals could find themselves in tune with a new way of looking at things.”