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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Pope Announces 20 New Cardinals

Pope Francis, 85, presided over a ceremony known as a consistory and told the new cardinals to show concern for ordinary people despite their high rank

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VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Saturday named 20 cardinals from around the world who chose men who mostly agree with his vision of a more progressive and inclusive church and influenced their choice of his eventual successor.

Francis, 85, presided over a ceremony known as a consistory and told the new cardinals to show concern for ordinary people despite the high rank that will bring them into contact with the country’s powerful.

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The ceremony marked the eighth time Francis has put his stamp on the Church’s future by welcoming new cardinals to serve as his top advisers and administrators in the Vatican and around the world.

Those under 80 – 16 of the 20 newcomers – can enter a conclave to elect a new pope from among themselves after he dies or resigns.

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They come from Britain, South Korea, Spain, France, Nigeria, Brazil, India, United States, East Timor, Italy, Ghana, Singapore, Paraguay and Colombia.

“The cardinal loves the Church, always with the same spiritual fire, whether he deals with big questions or everyday problems, the powerful of this world or those ordinary people who are great in God’s eyes,” Francis said.

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Standing in front of the high altar of St Peter’s Basilica, Francis asked them to remember “poor families, migrants and the homeless”.

He read his homily in a strong voice, often off script, even as a joke about a Roman priest who was so close to his parishioners that he knew not only all their names but also their dogs’ names.

Francis elected pope in 2013, has now selected 83 of the 132 cardinals, or about 63%.

With each consistory, Francis has continued what one diplomat called a “tilt toward Asia,” increasing the likelihood that the next pope could be from a region that is a growing economic and political power.

In an interview with Reuters last month, the 85-year-old pope said that if he were to resign for health reasons in the future, rather than die in office, he had no plans to do so anytime soon. This means that he could already appoint even more cardinals next year.

After reading the homily, Francis gave them each a ring and a red hat, the colour of which, along with their robes, is meant to remind them that they should be willing to shed their blood for the faith.

Since he was elected the first Latin American pope, Francis has often broken the mould used by his predecessors to select cardinals. He often preferred men from developing countries and smaller cities, rather than from large metropolises were having a cardinal was considered automatic.

Archbishop Leonardo Steiner of Manaus, Brazil, becomes the first cardinal from the Amazon region, underscoring Francis’ concern for indigenous peoples and the environment.

Another unexpected new cardinal elector is Archbishop Giorgio Marengo, an Italian who is the administrator of the Catholic Church in Mongolia. At 48, he is the youngest of the new cardinals.

Mongolia has fewer than 1,500 Catholics but is strategically important because it borders China, where the Vatican is trying to improve the situation for Catholics.

“The Holy Father takes care of the Church wherever it is in the world. (We) feel that a small community is as important as a big community,” he told Reuters ahead of the ceremony.

One notable appointment from the wealthier countries is Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, California. By giving San Diego its first cardinal, Francis bypassed conservative archbishops in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Also Read: Pope Calls For Dialogue over Church-State Crisis in Nicaragua

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