Pope Francis has made 14 new cardinals. Here’s what you need to know.

Pope Francis walks past cardinals as he leaves a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 28, 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)    Pope Francis walks past cardinals as he leaves a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 28, 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis took many Vatican watchers by surprise on Sunday, May 20, when, after reciting the Regina Coeli and praying for peace in the Holy Land and Venezuela, he announced that he would create 14 new cardinals on June 29.

It had been expected that he would hold a consistory this year since the number of cardinal electors would have decreased from 116 to 115 on June 8 when Cardinal Amato of Italy turns 80. Given that this number would not change by reason of age for the rest of the year, it was logical for the pope to decide to hold it at the end of June. In this way, he ensures that the number of electors will remain close to the full complement of 120. With Sunday’s announcement, that number stands at 126 (125 after June 8).

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This will be his fifth consistory since his election as pope on March 13, 2013, and Francis has adopted the same criteria in his choice of men to be cardinals: universality; attention to “the peripheries”; humble pastors with “the smell of the sheep”; reducing the overall number of Europeans and Italians in the electoral college; abandoning the tradition that appointment to certain sees automatically brings with it a red hat; and restricting the number of Roman Curia cardinals by reserving the red hat only for the prefects of congregations (or their equivalent).

Pope Francis is trying to ensure that those who elect his successor are humble men committed to “a church of the poor and for the poor.”

By carefully choosing the new cardinals, Pope Francis is trying to ensure that those who elect his successor are humble, spiritual men committed to “a church of the poor and for the poor,” a church that is “a field hospital” and puts mercy at the heart of its mission. The pope wants “a missionary church” that reaches out to the various peripheries of the world, a church, devoid of clericalism, that involves the whole people of God. Francis has now chosen 59 of the 126 current electors—roughly 47 percent of the electoral college. Benedict XVI named 46 of the others, while St. John Paul II created the remaining 20.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Pope Francis.]

In 1975, Paul VI set the maximum number of electors—cardinals under the age of 80 with a right to vote in a conclave—at 120. John Paul II and Benedict XVI exceeded that number at various times, and Francis has now done so for the first time.

In an interview last year, he said he hoped that by the end of his pontificate “the college of cardinals would be truly catholic.” His nominations yesterday reaffirmed that desire for universality. He added cardinals from four countries that do not have electors today, though they had in the past: Iraq, Japan, Madagascar and Pakistan.

The new electors come from Poland, Portugal, Madagascar, Iraq, Pakistan, Japan, Peru, Spain and Italy.

The new electors come from Poland, Portugal, Madagascar, Iraq, Pakistan, Japan, Peru, Spain and Italy, which received three new cardinals.

As in previous consistories, Francis again gave special attention to “the peripheries” of the church and of the world. Significantly, he placed the Iraqi-born Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphael I Sako, 69, at the top of the list, to highlight the still difficult situation in that country since the U.S.-led war in 2003 and especially the plight of the tiny Catholic and Christian communities in this oil-rich, majority-Muslim country of 37 million people. Christians counted for 6 percent of the population in 2003 (around 1.5 million), but today the Christian and Catholic population is estimated to be around half that number. The patriarch is the third Iraqi cardinal in the history of Chaldean Church.

Francis is aware of the difficult situation of Christians in Pakistan, too, and will give a red hat to Joseph Coutts, 72, the white-bearded archbishop of Karachi, who has served in three dioceses in this majority-Muslim country of 209 million people, where Christians total 2.5 million believers, a mere 1 percent. While the Catholic Church in Pakistan and its one million members have contributed much in the fields of education and health care, they and other Christians have suffered attacks for over 15 years under the country’s infamous blasphemy law, which the new cardinal campaigned strongly against as president of the bishops’ conference (2011-17). The first Pakistani cardinal was also archbishop of Karachi—Joseph Cordeiro, who died in 1994; Archbishop Coutts is the second.

As in previous consistories, Francis again gave special attention to “the peripheries” of the church and of the world.

He also gave the cardinal’s hat to Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda, 70, the archbishop of Osaka, Japan, a predominantly Buddhist country of 127 million people where Catholics total around 950,000, of whom less than half (450,000) are native Japanese; the rest are migrants, mainly from the Philippines. The new cardinal, who is vice president of the bishops’ conference and a poet, was born in Nagasaki four years after the United States dropped the atomic bomb there and has been active in the peace movement as a bishop. He has also worked with people with disabilities and in education. He is the sixth Japanese cardinal.

Pope Francis decided to name as cardinal Desiré Tsarahazana, 63, the archbishop of Toamasina in Madagascar, which is not the principal archdiocese in this country where a quarter of the population is Catholic, about four million faithful. He is the fourth cardinal in the history of this island that lies in the western Indian Ocean, about 266 miles off the east coast of South Africa.

His decision to give the red hat to Giuseppe Petrocchi, 69, archbishop of the Italian city of L’Aquila follows the same logic. The 70,000 inhabitants of this city and many more in the surrounding area suffered greatly from earthquakes in 2009 and are still suffering its disastrous consequences. Francis wanted to show his ongoing concern for them and so will create yet another cardinal “with the smell of the sheep,” who has done great work trying to help this stricken community.

Francis has sought through his consistories to reduce the number of Europeans and Italians among the electors.

Since becoming pope, Francis has sought through his consistories to reduce the number of Europeans and Italians among the electors as they were vastly overrepresented at the previous three conclaves, where Europeans counted for over 50 percent of the electors, and more than half of them were Italian. While he has given six red hats to Europeans this time (three of them to Italians), this does not substantially alter his fundamental rationale.

If a conclave were to be held today, Europe would have 55 electors (including 22 Italians), North America 17 (Canada three, Mexico four, the United States 10), Latin America 18, Africa 16, Asia 16 and Oceania four.

One can see the shift that has taken place in the composition of the electoral college if one compares these new figures to those of the 2013 conclave where Europe had 60 electors (including 28 Italians), North America 17 (Canada three, Mexico three, the United States 11), Latin America 16, Africa 11, Asia 10 and Oceania one.

Francis has abandoned the tradition that an appointment to certain high-profile sees automatically brought the red hat.

In choosing new cardinals, Francis has abandoned the tradition that an appointment to certain high-profile sees automatically brought the red hat. Thus, in Italy, for example, he has not given the red hat to the archbishops of Venice, Turin or Bologna or, in the United States, to Baltimore, Philadelphia or Los Angeles. It was perhaps significant this time that he did not give the red hat to the new archbishops of Milan (the largest diocese in Europe), Paris or Krakow; the reason seems to be that in these cases their predecessors are still electors.

He did, however, give the red hat to the new vicar-general of Rome, Angelo De Donatis, 64, whom he chose, while still a priest in the Rome diocese, to give the retreat to the Roman Curia in 2014 and more recently to present his exhortation on the universal call to holiness.

[Explore America’s in-depth converage of “Gaudete et Exsultate.”]

His decision to give the red hat to the Peruvian Jesuit, Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, 69, the archbishop of Huancayo, is particularly significant as he has been a prophetic leader in the effort to protect the environment in the Amazon region, even before the encyclical “Laudato Si’,” and has received death threats for his work. He is a member of REPAM (the church network for the Amazonian region) and of the preparatory council for the synod of bishops for Amazonia, which will convene in October 2019.

Francis will also make cardinal Bishop Antonio dos Santos Marto, 71, of the Diocese of Leirà-Fatima, in Portugal, whom he got to know well during his visit to Fatima on May 13, 2017, for the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady to the three shepherd children, two of whom he declared saints on that day.

Francis’ decision to give the red hat to the papal almoner came as a big surprise to many in the Vatican.

From the beginning, Francis set out to reduce the number of cardinals in the Roman Curia, and he has largely kept to this goal. This time, however, he gave red hats to two of its members: Luis Ladaria Ferrer, 74, the Spanish Jesuit who is the prefect of the Congregation for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 69, a Holy See diplomat who has held the third-ranking position in the Secretariat of State, having responsibility for the general affairs of the church since 2011, and has also been the pope’s special delegation to the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta. Becciu is now expected to be appointed to head a Vatican congregation or, perhaps, to return to his native Sardinia to head a diocese there.

Francis’ decision to give the red hat to the papal almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski (Poland), 54, came as a big surprise to many in the Vatican. He is Francis’ point man in reaching out to help the poor and outcasts in Rome and has done so with extraordinary creativity, providing food and clothing, getting the Vatican to install showers and toilets for them behind the colonnades in St. Peter’s Square, inviting them to see the Sistine Chapel and involving them in other ways in celebrations linked to the pope or the Vatican. His role is not appreciated by everyone in the Vatican; some criticize it and him, but the pope fully supports his work for the poor, the outcast and the discarded. By giving him the red hat Francis is stating clearly that this work for the poor is a priority in his pontificate. It is the first time in history that the papal almoner has been given a red hat.

As he has done before, Francis gave the red hat to three churchmen over the age of 80: Sergio Obeso Rivera, emeritus archbishop of Xalapa, Mexico, Toribio Ticona Porco, the emeritus bishop of Corocoro, Bolivia, and Aquilino Bocos Merino, a Spanish member of the Claretian order who has been a spiritual guide to many people.

With the addition of these three new cardinals who do not have a right to vote in a conclave, the number of cardinals over 80 is now 101. This means the College of Cardinals today has 227 members, 126 of whom are electors.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J. Calpezzo
4 weeks ago

Los Angeles has a red hat. It belongs to a guy who makes The Chilean bishops and Bernie Law look like choir boys. Until the Pontiff strips Mahony of his red hat, his words on clergy abuse will be only empty words.

Mike Fitzpatrick
4 weeks ago

Does this mean that if you get up and go to work everyday, make a decent living, raise your family and thank God everyday for the talents he has given you that do not have a place in Francis' view of our church.

Ellen B
3 weeks 6 days ago

If you believe you have a place in Francis' view of our church only when Cardinals are European (mainly Italian) politicos, sure.

Mike Fitzpatrick
3 weeks 6 days ago

I am fine with whoever he designates as a Cardinal, my problem is with his quote that says the church should be for the poor and of the poor as if the Church should not care about the well off and the middle of the road family. It sounds like we should all be homeless for the Church to care about us. He is not talking about poor in spirit. Remember that Jesus said that his Kingdom is not of this world.

Mandy Rose
3 weeks 6 days ago

First of all i was shocked to hear that a man from karachi, pakistan has been added to the list. And secondly what shocked me about this blog is how they think that matters for christians are going DOWN the drain because of the muslims having a majority in that country and they are suppressing the christians. I have been to various cities of pakistan for my assignment expert service meetings and i never ever heard a complaint from a christian living in pakistan regarding their treatment.

Baron Corvo
3 weeks 6 days ago

Once again, Los Angeles doesn't get a red hat because Jose Gomez is OPUS DOPUS.

Hope this is registering with all you silly "traditionalists" that are pining for the days of tassels and lace !

Nora Bolcon
3 weeks 6 days ago

The pope wants “a missionary church” that reaches out to the various peripheries of the world, a church, devoid of clericalism, that involves the whole people of God. Francis has now chosen 59 of the 126 current electors—roughly 47 percent of the electoral college.

Until we have women cardinals we have no representation of the whole people of God.

Henry George
3 weeks 2 days ago

Nora,

Would it be wise in just the practical sense for the Pope to make women Bishops and Cardinals.

Would it not be wiser to wait until they have had 25 years experience as a Priest ?

I have said it before and I will say it again the path toward which you demand the Church follow is impossible
as you demand it, but if the Pope approves Married Priests in the Latin Rite - then in time those priests will make
it possible for women priests.

Tim Donovan
3 weeks 5 days ago

I'm pleased that Pope Francis has made a list of Cardinals -to-be that is diverse in terms of their backgrounds. I'm glad that Cardinal -designate Archbishop Joseph Cuttos of Pakistan, whose episcopal motto is "Harmony," has worked for Christian -Muslim dialogue. As someone who knows or has known in the past people of many different faiths (including Muslims, Jews, Orthodox Christians, and whose sister-in-law and niece are Presbyterians) I certainly favor interfaith cooperation. It's good that in a nation with few Christians, that the members of the Church will continue their crucial education and healthcare efforts. Although I 'm a Latin-rite Catholic, I'm especially glad that Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Iraq, who represents the Chaldean Christian Church, in a nation where the number of Christians has dramatically declined since the late 1990" s, will hopefully being peace in a region where there are terrible conflicts. Let us pray for a pro-life solution to be found among the people's of the Middle East.

dc nm
3 weeks 5 days ago

Ah, yes, "humble" pastors like Cupich who locked an entire parish of St. Michael's in Rapid City out of their church for Holy Week, telling them to go celebrate at other parishes. That smells more like hatred than humility to me. Plus, he's an activist bishop who regularly gets political but forbade his priests in Spokane from praying outside abortion clinics during 40 days for life.

Humble isn't exactly a good description of man so full of hatred and arrogance toward those who approach the faith differently than himself. I guess diversity is only good when welcoming LGBTQIAPK folks: people who actually believe in the sanctity of human life and want to celebrate mass in older forms aren't nearly as welcome.

Henry George
3 weeks 3 days ago

dc nm

Say more about what Cupich did.

Henry George
3 weeks 3 days ago

At perhaps the last 'Sub-Deacon' in the Latin Rite,
please let the Pope know that I am willing and ready
to become a Cardinal.

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