Pope Francis names 19 new cardinals

Published January 12, 2014

Associated Press
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    Ithis April 5, 2013 file photo made available by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis, left, meets with Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the Vatican. Mueller is amongst the 19 new cardinals that Pope Francis announced Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014 during his Angelus prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. (AP/L’Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY –  Pope Francis named his first batch of cardinals on Sunday, choosing 19 men from Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere, including the developing nations of Haiti and Burkina Faso, in line with his belief that the church must pay more attention to the poor.

Francis made the announcement as he spoke from his studio window to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

Sixteen of the appointees are younger than 80, meaning they are currently eligible to elect the next pope, which is a cardinal’s most important task.  The ceremony to formally install them as cardinals will be held Feb. 22 at the Vatican.

A U.S.-based advocacy group for people who have been sexually abused by clergy criticized one of the pope’s appointments and also said he should have promoted an archbishop in Ireland to cardinal’s rank.

Since his election in March as the first pontiff from Latin America, the pope has broken tradition after tradition in terms of protocol and style at the Vatican. But in Sunday’s list Francis stuck to the church’s rule of having no more than 120 cardinals eligible to elect the next pontiff.

The College of Cardinals is currently 13 shy of that 120-mark among eligible-to-vote members. In addition, three cardinals will turn 80 by May. That means Francis chose the exact number of new cardinals needed to bring the voting ranks up to 120 during the next few months.

Some appointments were expected, including that of his new secretary of state, the Italian archbishop Pietro Parolin, and the German head of the Vatican’s watchdog office for doctrinal orthodoxy, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller. Two others named Sunday also come from the curia, as the Holy See’s Rome-based bureaucracy is known.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope’s selection of churchmen from Haiti and Burkina Faso reflects Francis’ attention to the destitute as a core part of the church’s mission.

Once again, the cardinal’s red hat eluded Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. The prelate in that traditionally Catholic country has angered some in the Vatican by strongly criticizing how the hierarchy handled the worldwide clerical sex abuse scandal.

The U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, expressed disappointment that Francis didn’t promote Martin.  `’While far from perfect, he’s better” than some other prelates on abuse, said David Clohessy, director of the group’s chapter in St. Louis.

SNAP also criticized the choice of Mueller, saying he had a `’dreadful” record on children’s safety.

Under the tenure of Mueller, who was appointed by fellow German Pope Benedict XVI, critics have accused of Vatican’s handling of the sex abuse scandal, including letting pedophile priests transfer from parish to parish when complaints were made.

Groups such as SNAP also have criticized the Vatican’s recent refusal under Francis to allow the extradition to Poland of a Polish archbishop being investigated in his homeland for alleged sex abuse.

SNAP welcomed the fact that three high-ranking archbishops in the United States, where the sex scandal has enraged faithful for decades now, were not promoted to cardinal.

Among those chosen  on Sunday to become a `’prince of the church,” as the cardinals  are known, was Mario Aurelio Poli, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, a post Francis left when he was elected as the first Latin American pope in March.  Poli had impressed Francis by earning a degree in social work from the public university of Buenos Aires.

The selection of Orani Joao Tempesta, the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, as a new cardinal was widely hoped for back home to thank him for organizing Francis’ wildly popular visit to that city in July.

Whether one continent or country has a large contingent of cardinals is heavily watched when it comes time to pick the next pope because churchmen could vote as a geographic bloc in hope of furthering the interests of their flock back home.

Not counting the four picks from the curia, who no longer represent the church in their homelands, the other new voting cardinals include two from Europe, three from North and Central America, three from South America, and two apiece from Africa and Asia.

Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, in Britain, called his appointment a `’humbling moment” of service to the church.

The youngest new cardinal chosen by Francis is the 55-year-old  Monsignor Chibly Langlois from Haiti.

In reading out the names, Francis said the new cardinals, coming from `’every part of the world represent the deep church ecclesial relationship between the church of Rome and the other churches scattered throughout the world.”

Francis has stressed that the church hierarchy must not view itself as an elite aloof from its flock but instead serve its  flock, especially for the poor, others on the edges of society and disillusioned faithful.

In a sentimental touch in Sunday’s selections, the three men chosen as cardinals who are too old to vote for the next pope include 98-year-old Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla, who had served as personal secretary to Pope John XXIII. That late pontiff will be made a saint along with John Paul II in a ceremony at the Vatican in April.


1 Comment

  1. Isaac Gomes said,

    January 16, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    The list of 19 new Cardinals does not include anyone from India, particularly Bengal which has not had a Cardinal after late Cardinal Lawrence Picachy.

    Regarding selection of Bishops Pope Francis said that he wants for our church a special kind of bishop – “shepherds who smell of their sheep.” For this the Pope must ensure a system whereby the sheep (laypeople) has a significant say, and not the clergy alone, in the choice of our bishops and parish priests.

    In the early church, the office of bishop was filled by the choice of the local people and priests. Today we are so used to the pope choosing our bishops that we forget it was not always that way. The right of the pope to choose bishops was only settled by the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which allocated that power to the Pope. This law, like all other laws, can always be amended by the Vatican Council to respect the “signs of time” and give the Laity its rightful place in the selection process.

    The way bishops are chosen today has limited lay input. When a priest is being considered for appointment as bishop, the Apostolic Nuncio, sends out apostolic letters to select laypeople from the diocese, asking their knowledge of the candidate’s position on some very specific questions. The only persons who get these letters from papal nuncio are wealthy donors; the poor people never get these letters. Besides the limited input of such apostolic letters, there really is no lay participation in the choice of bishops.

    Dioceses in the United States are divided into what are known as “ecclesiastical provinces”. Each province has a list of potential candidates for bishop, compiled from suggestions of priests favoured by the bishops of that province. When there is a need for a diocesan bishop in the province, the papal nuncio begins by looking at the candidates on that list. The nuncio is not bound by the list. He may place other priests’ names from around the country on the list of candidates that he prepares. The nuncio narrows the candidates down to a final list of three names (called a “terna”) which is sent to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome. The list is vetted and then sent to the pope. The pope can pick any name from the list of three that the Congregation for Bishops gives him, or he can go off-list and pick someone completely different.

    This current system results in bishops being given charge of dioceses by Rome, without any knowledge of the priests or people of a diocese. Usually this system gives bishops whose only loyalty is to their patrons in Rome or to the national hierarchy who campaigned for them – and not to their own priests and people.

    What would it look like if laypeople had a real role in the choice of their bishops? Before a diocese is about to fall vacant on its bishop’s retirement on turning 75, the papal nuncio or someone from his staff should travel to the diocese and talk to the laypeople directly. The nuncio’s staff should visit parishes and ask people to stay after Mass to talk about probable bishop candidates. The parishioners met should not be selected by the pastor. The people know who the good priests are. They must be simple approachable men, devoted to poverty and not driven by ambition. Let the people tell the nuncio or his staff who these kinds of priests are. After having heard the people of the diocese, the nuncio should compile his list for Rome. This list should be made public, so that the people will know whether they were heard or not.

    Similar practice should be adopted for selection of parish priests. Parishes form the pillars of a diocese. If the wrong parish priest with little knowledge of the parish community and local culture is chosen, the pillars will develop cracks. The present practice of selection based on the consent of a few priests is flawed. To do justice to Pope Francis’ desire to select “shepherds who smell of their sheep”, parishioners’ express views should be sought before finalization of parish priests. For a strong Church, its foundation must be strong – made up of good parish priests who are simple men, devoted to poverty, and not driven by ambition.

    In the case of Bengal it must be mentioned that Bagdogra Diocese is still without a bishop since its bishop was elevated to Archbishop of Calcutta two years ago. To cater to vacant Bagdogra the Archbishop has to visit Bagdogra frequently. Also Calcutta Archdiocese being large needs at least two Auxiliary Bishops (like Mumbai) to give due pastoral care to the widespread dioceses under it. In July, Raiganj diocese will have another vacant see due to Bishop Alphonse D’Souza’s retirement. The local laity’s views must be transparently sought before selection of Bishops for these places. Sons of the soil should be selected in keeping with the prevalent practice of religious hierarchy in Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Orissa, Jharkhand, North-east and Darjeeling.

    Isaac Gomes, Kolkata.


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