What the Pope’s choice of new cardinals means

Opinion by the Rev. James Martin, special to CNN
(CNN) Pope Francis’ selection on Sunday of 19 new cardinals, the men who will select the next pope, seems aimed to help rebalance the church in important ways, passing over at least three influential American archbishops and naming several from the Southern Hemisphere.
First, there is a decided emphasis on Africa and Latin America, including poorer countries like Haiti and Burkina Faso.
Remember that the cardinals’ most important duty is to elect the next pope. Francis is making sure that all parts of the world are adequately represented and today the majority of Catholics are in the Southern Hemisphere.
Sixteen of the 19 new cardinals named by Francis on Sunday are younger than 80, which means they would be eligible to vote to the next pope. Of those 16, four are from the curia, or Vatican bureaucracy; two are from Europe; three are from North and Central America; three are from South America, including the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis’ position before his papal election; two are from Africa and two from Asia.
The Pope’s picks show that he wants the voice of the poor represented in the next conclave. Archbishop Chibly Langlois, 55, for example, will be the first-ever cardinal from Haiti. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, echoed this: “The choice of Cardinals of Burkina Faso and Haiti shows concern for people struck by poverty.”
Second, some selections were foregone conclusions. That is, the heads of two of the biggest Vatican offices: Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state, and Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, head of the church’s chief doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It would have been almost unthinkable not to have the heads of those two offices named.
Third, the naming of Loris Capovilla, age 98, the kind and gentle former secretary to Pope John XXIII, is a lovely nod to Good Pope John and to the Second Vatican Council. (Naming a man over 80 as cardinal is purely honorific; he cannot vote in a conclave.)
And to those who may downplay this, remember that there were many elderly priests, bishops, archbishops and theologians he could have chosen for this honor: the pope chose Capovilla, one of only three over-80 prelates so honored.
Fourth, no Americans were named. (The most obvious candidates would have been Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles; all head archdioceses where a “red hat” is traditionally given.) This probably indicates the Pope thinks the United States already has enough cardinals at least for now.
Finally, there were no dramatic surprises. There were no women cardinals (the possibility of which the Pope himself set aside in a recent comment about not wanting to “clericalize” women); there were no theologians known for a particular body of work, like the Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez, one of the founding fathers of Liberation Theology; and there was no passing over of top church officials like Mueller or Parolin.
But this is only Francis’ first consistory; he may have wanted to avoid giving people heart attacks on his first batch of selections.
The Rev. James Martin is editor at large of America magazine and author of the forthcoming book “Jesus: A Pilgrimage.”

About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
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One Response to What the Pope’s choice of new cardinals means

  1. Isaac Gomes says:

    The Pope’s selection of 19 news cardinals does not include anybody from India and more so so from Bengal which has not had a cardinal for 37 years since Late Lawrence Picachy who was made cardinal in 1976.

    Compared to Bangladesh which abounds with local talent, West Bengal its predecessor is a clear case where there is a drought in vocation due to local talent not being nurtured and local priests/bishops not being at the helm of affairs.

    Some dioceses are even without Bishops. Bagdogra Diocese has been without a bishop for more than two years since its bishop was elevated to Archbishop of Calcutta. To cater to vacant Bagdogra the Archbishop has to rush there frequently. Calcutta Archdiocese itself being large and widespread needs two Auxiliary Bishops (like Mumbai) to render due pastoral care. 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 considered before selection of Bishops for these places.

    In keeping with the practice of the church hierarchy in Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Orissa, Jharkhand, North-east and Darjeeling where sons of the soil are given the top posts, similar approach should be taken for West Bengal too. The Church in West Bengal is controlled by the South Lobby i.e. Kerala, Mangalore and Tamilnadu. There is hardly any Bengali face in the top hierarchy including the main training centre Morning Star College Barrackpore. This has resulted in West Bengal’s indigenous rich culture being systematically stymied by the powers that be.

    Isaac Gomes, Kolkata

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