Meet the 16 New Cardinal Electors
In May, Pope Francis announced that 21 men would be created cardinal at the consistory on Aug. 27. (One of these cardinals designate, Bishop Lucas Van Looy, has since requested to not to be made a cardinal.) Sixteen of the 20 are under the age of 80 and would be eligible to vote in a papal conclave. Eleven of them are from or based in countries outside of Europe and North America, with Paraguay, Singapore and East Timor gaining cardinals for the first time in this appointment. Five are simple bishops, not archbishops, another precedent set by Pope Francis.
With these new cardinals, Pope Francis will have named nearly 63 percent of the electors who will choose his successor, 83 out of 132 who are eligible to vote. They represent the pope’s move to represent more of the world’s Catholics in the papal election process, as the number of electors from Europe has steadily decreased in his reign as pope.
1. Archbishop Anthony Poola (India), 60, archbishop of Hyderabad
Archbishop Anthony Poola was born on Nov. 15, 1961, in Poluru, in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on the southeastern coast of the country. He will be the first Dalit, or “untouchable” in India’s caste system, to be created cardinal. He said that when friends in Sardinia called him about the news, he didn’t believe it. But after the papal nuncio called, the archbishop said that he saw this decision as part of the pope’s care for the “poorest of the poor,” especially given that his region of Hyderabad is one of the poorest in the country and has a large concentration of Catholics.
The elevation of Archbishop Poola is a signal from the pope that the lowest caste of Indian society matters to the church; more than 60 percent of Catholics in India are Dalit.
Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão and fellow Indian citizen Archbishop Anthony Poola will increase the number of Indians in the College of Cardinals to six.
2. Archbishop Filipe Neri António Sebastião do Rosário Ferrão (India), 69, archbishop of Goa and Daman
Archbishop Filipe Neri António Sebastião do Rosário Ferrão, born on Jan. 20, 1953, in Goa, India, will be the first cardinal of Goa since the episcopal seat was created there in 1533. He currently serves as the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
He and fellow Indian citizen Archbishop Anthony Poola will increase the number of Indians in the College of Cardinals to six. Archbishop Ferrão’s inclusion in the consistory is indicative of Pope Francis’ wider goal of hearing more diverse voices within the church’s hierarchy, as he has invited more men from the peripheries of the church with minority Catholic populations. The state of Goa has played an important role in the growth of the Catholic Church in both India and Pakistan.
3. Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik (South Korea), 70, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy
Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik has served as the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (now called the Dicastery for the Clergy) since last August. He was born Nov. 21, 1951, in the Korean city of Daejeon. He entered the priesthood at 28, getting ordained in Rome in December of 1979.
You Heung-sik’s ordination as a bishop took place in August of 2003, and he succeeded as the bishop of the diocese of Daejeon in 2005. In his time as bishop, he served as president of the Justice and Peace Committee for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, visiting North Korea four times, according to his page on the dicastery’s website.
As prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy, the bishop faced challenges of clericalism and sexual abuse among priests and deacons. In a June interview with Vatican News, he emphasized the importance of communion and humility in his new role.
Archbishop William Goh’s appointment by Pope Francis will make him the first ever cardinal from Singapore.
4. Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye (Singapore), 65, archbishop of Singapore
Archbishop Goh was born in Singapore on June 25, 1957. He was ordained a priest in 1985, following an education at the Major Seminary at Penang (College General) and the Francis Xavier Major Seminary of Singapore, before then finishing a licentiate in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Archbishop Goh was appointed to his current position on May 22, 2013. His appointment by Pope Francis will make him the first ever cardinal from Singapore. In discussing his upcoming position with Vatican News, he highlighted the pope’s teachings on compassion and inclusivity within the church, including for divorcees and those in the L.G.B.T.Q. community.
While he previously voiced opposition to the repeal of Section 377A, a penal code in Singaporean law that criminalized sex between men, the archbishop has also opposed the criminal persecution of gay people. Archbishop Goh has since stated that the church would not take a stance on the law’s repeal or retainment, with news of the government supporting its repeal in August.
In his Vatican News interview, the archbishop also spoke about the need of a secular government separate from and respectful of a diversity of religions, pointing to Singapore as a model for interreligious harmony and echoing his previous statements of the need to avoid “mixing religion with politics.”
Bishop Giorgio Marengo will be 48 years old when he is elevated to cardinal, making him the youngest since Karol Wojtyła, who became cardinal at 47.
5. Bishop Giorgio Marengo (Mongolia), 47, apostolic prefect of Ulan Bator, Mongolia
Bishop Giorgio Marengo will be 48 years old when he is elevated to cardinal, making him the youngest since Karol Wojtyła, who became cardinal at 47.
The Italian-born member of the Consolata Missionaries currently serves as the apostolic prefect of Ulan Bator, Mongolia, a post he has held since 2020. The country borders China and only has a Catholic population of about 1,300, which Bishop Marengo said brings challenges. In a 2021 interview, he said of his time there, “For me, it is a great responsibility that brings me closer to the true meaning of the mission.”
BishopMarengo was born on June 7, 1974, and was ordained a priest in May of 2001. His elevation to a bishop took place on August 8, 2020, in Torino, Italy, where the Consolata Missionaries are based.
6. Virgilio do Carmo da Silva, S.D.B. (East Timor), 54, archbishop of Dili, East Timor
Archbishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva was born on Nov. 27, 1967, putting him on the younger side of the consistory class. He took his first vows with the Salesians of Saint John Bosco in May of 1990 and his perpetual vows in March of 1997. He was ordained a priest the next year, in December of 1998.
He has only served as an archbishop since 2019, when Pope Francis elevated the Diocese of Dili to an archdiocese. Archbishop da Silva said at the time that the Catholic Church in his country was “in a period of transition from a church of the suffering to one which is accompanying its people in an era of greater freedom in the modern world,” according to a 2019 interview with Catholic News Service.
He will be the first cardinal to represent the country of East Timor, which shares half of the island of Timor with neighboring Indonesia. East Timor achieved independence in 2002, and Archbishop da Silva has been a major force in shaping the church in the predominantly Catholic country.
Bishop Baawobr will be Ghana’s third cardinal upon the closing of the consistory. He said that he was completely taken aback by the announcement.
7. Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr (Ghana), 62, of Wa, Ghana
Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr was born on June 21, 1959, in the city of Wa, Ghana. It was here that he would be ordained a priest with the Missionaries of Africa in July of 1987 at age 28. In 2010, Baawobr became the first Black African superior of his order and served in that role for six years. When he completed his term, Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Wa.
As bishop, he has sought to help the mentally ill in Ghana. He has used his influence to fight against the country’s stigma around mental illness, organizing efforts to feed and clothe those living on the street. He has also spoken out against L.G.B.T.Q. rights, praising his country’s speaker in parliament for his political stance against the rights for these communities.
Bishop Baawobr will be Ghana’s third cardinal upon the closing of the consistory. He said that he was completely taken aback by the announcement. He had only just left Rome two days earlier after a pontifical council and “nobody said anything” to him about the news, according to a recent interview.
Bishop Okpaleke is one of five simple bishops created cardinal at this time, and one of the two West Africans in this group of cardinals-elect.
8. Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke (Nigeria), 59, bishop of Ekwulobia
Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, born on March 1, 1963, in Anambra, Nigeria, not far from his current episcopal seat of Ekwulobia, has not had an easy route to becoming cardinal. Originally ordained in 1990, he was appointed bishop of Ahiara in December 2012, but his ordination occurred five months later, on May 21, 2013, outside the diocese because of hostility toward his appointment. Locals sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI objecting to Bishop Okpaleke because he was not of the region’s ethnic origin of Mbaise.
After five years of being unable to enter his own cathedral, Bishop Okpaleke wrote a letter of resignation to Pope Francis, who accepted it in 2018. Two years later, the pope appointed Bishop Okpaleke as the head of the new diocese of Ekwulobia. The diocese from which it was formed, Awka, has the highest number of priests in any African diocese, and the bishop of Awka had previously asked the pope for the creation of a diocese in Ekwulobia, a prayer which was finally answered by Bishop Okpaleke’s appointment.
Bishop Okpaleke is one of five simple bishops created cardinal at this time, and one of the two West Africans in this group of cardinals-elect. He will be the fourth Nigerian bishop in the College of Cardinals, and he said that Nigerians have much to offer to the global synodal process with their varied experiences of church throughout the country.
9. Archbishop Arthur Roche (England), 72, prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Archbishop Arthur Roche was born on March 6, 1950, in Batley Carr, England. He was ordained in 1975 and ordained an auxiliary bishop in 2002. He became the bishop of Leeds in 2004 before being appointed to the Congregation for Divine Worship as its secretary in 2012. He is currently the highest-ranked English cleric in the Vatican as prefect of the congregation.
Archbishop Roche is known for the opinions he has voiced in the Catholic Church’s “liturgy wars,” saying that the church should be more unified in its liturgy throughout the world. He played a part in the implementation of “Traditionis Custodes,” Pope Francis’ 2021 document issued motu proprio on the promulgation of the Latin-rite Mass.
10. Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, L.C. (Spain), 77, president of the Governorate of the Vatican City State and of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State
Archbishop Vérgez was born in Salamanca, Spain, on March 1, 1945, and was later ordained as a priest in 1969. The appointment of the Archbishop of Villamagna in Proconsulari by Pope Francis makes him the first Legionary of Christ to become a cardinal.
During his service, the archbishop has worn many different hats and been entrenched in Vatican offices. This includes serving as an archivist, head of the Holy See’s Internet Office, secretary General of the Governorate and a Vatican representative on the Foundation Board for the Vatican Observatory. Most recently, before his ascension to become a cardinal, he was appointed as president of the Governorate of the Vatican City in October 2021, which covers several different administrative roles across the country’s government.
Archbishop Aveline is best known for his work in facilitating inter-faith dialogue between Catholics and members of other religions.
11. Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline (France), 63, archbishop of Marseille
Archbishop Aveline was born in Sidi Bel Abbès, in what was then French Algeria on Dec. 26, 1958. He was ordained as a priest for the archdiocese in 1984 after attending the interdiocesan seminary of Avignon, later becoming a bishop in 2013.
The archbishop is best known for his work in facilitating inter-faith dialogue between Catholics and members of other religions. He served as president of the Council for Interreligious Relations and New Religious Currents from 2017 to 2022, previously serving as consultor of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue—now known as the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue—from 2008 to 2013.
His quote on “discovering the faith a little more deeply through others” was an inspiration for a three-day dialogue between Muslims and Christians at the Taizé Ecumenical Community in 2018. This is especially important in France, where Islamophobia and a colonial past—particularly in dealing with its former colony of Algeria—still impact outside perceptions of the country.
“This feeds fears in the Christian community as well as raising real questions that we need to address,” said the then-bishop in 2016, in regards to concerns over the association of religion and violence in terrorist groups like ISIS.
However, the archbishop’s commitment to the interfaith dialogue between Islam and Catholicism has not been welcomed by all. In the wake of his appointment by Pope Francis to lead Marseilles in 2019, the archbishop was attacked as “pro-Islam” and heretical by LifeSiteNews, Crisis Magazine and other English-languageCatholic sites.
Pope Francis had also appointed Bishop Cantoni to serve on the Dicastery for Bishops, the office that selects bishops, in July.
12. Bishop Oscar Cantoni (Italy), 71, bishop of Como
Bishop Cantoni was born in Lenno, Italy, on Sept. 1, 1950. After an education in classical studies at the Somascan Fathers-run Gallio College of Como, he was ordained a priest in 1975. Prior to his current and future roles, Bishop Cantoni served as bishop of Crema. Pope Francis had also appointed the bishop to serve on the Dicastery for Bishops, the office that selects bishops, in July; it was during this time that the pope appointed women to serve on the dicastery for the first time.
In March of this year, Bishop Cantoni delivered a homily on the anniversary of Father Luigi Giussani’s death. Father Giussani was the founder of Communion and Liberation, a lay Catholic movement that began in Italy.
“In spite of our apostolic commitment, within the society in which we work, the fruit of our common baptismal priesthood, we often experience the prevalence of evil, emptiness and nothingness, so much resistance to the work of grace, and we feel that our efforts seem to be in vain and so do not bear the desired fruits,” Bishop Cantoni said in his homily.
13. Bishop Robert Walter McElroy (United States), 68, bishop of San Diego
Bishop Robert W. McElroy was born on Feb. 5, 1954, in San Francisco, Calif. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, near Bishop McElroy’s San Diego, is usually headed by a cardinal, but Pope Francis will create Bishop McElroy, who is perceived to be closely aligned with the pope’s vision for the church, as cardinal instead. Bishop McElroy is the only North American to be appointed in this consistory.
He is strongly in support of the Synod on Synodality and was one of two U.S. bishops to participate in the Synod on the Amazon in 2019. In a recent article for America, Bishop McElroy wrote, “Synodal formation provides a pathway for renewing the internal life of the church and going to the peripheries of our world to proclaim the Gospel.”
Now, Archbishop Steiner and his archdiocese have a place to represent the Amazon, its people and its concerns on the world stage.
14. Archbishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, O.F.M. (Brazil), 71, archbishop of Manaus
Archbishop Leonardo Steiner, O.F.M., born on Nov. 6, 1950, in Forquihinas, Brazil, is the first cardinal from the Amazon region of South America. He was ordained as a Franciscan in 1978 and was appointed as a bishop in Brazil in 2005. He played a leading role in the 2019 Synod on the Amazon, which focused on indigenous voices in the conversation about climate change and pastoral challenges. He has also served as the secretary general of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil.
Pope Francis has noted the importance of the Amazon previously, and his creation of Archbishop Steiner as cardinal, combined with the Synod on the Amazon, prove this dedication to the rainforest and its inhabitants. Archbishop Steiner was named as the vice president of the Bishops’ Conference on the Amazon when it was formed in 2020. Now, Archbishop Steiner and his archdiocese have a place to represent the Amazon, its people and its concerns on the world stage.
15. Archbishop Paulo Cezar Costa (Brazil), 55, archbishop of Brasília
Archbishop Costa was born in Valença, Brazil, on July 20, 1967. He was ordained a priest in 1992, later becoming a professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and serving in other academic roles at the Paulo VI Institute of Philosophy Higher Institute of Theology of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.
The archbishop hosts a daily YouTube series called “Catechetical Moment with Don Paulo Cezar Costa,” where he discusses a reading from the Bible. He will become the third-youngest cardinal elector in the College.
“I think that the cardinal is a man who, in his fidelity to Jesus Christ and in his service to the pope, must seek to carry forward what the Spirit has been seeking to create and do in the church, at this moment, through the gift of Pope Francis and through his ministry,” said Archbishop Costa in an interview with Vatican News about his appointment (translated by America).
16. Archbishop Adalberto Martínez Flores (Paraguay), 71, archbishop of Asunción
Archbishop Adalberto Martínez Flores will become the first cardinal from Paraguay upon his creation by Pope Francis. The news brought joy around the country, and ArchbishopMartínez Flores said in an interview with Vatican News, “After 400 years of having this history, being the primary church in the Río de la Plata, expectations were high,” he said (translated by America).
He has served as a bishop across the country in five different dioceses: San Lorenzo (2000), San Pedro (2007), the Paraguay Military Ordinariate (2012), Villarica del Espiritu Santo (2018) and Asunción (2022). Upon his move to Asunción in February, he was appointed as archbishop.
In a speech in April, he spoke about the widespread corruption in Paraguay, much of which is done by Catholics, and said, “We bishops, clergy, consecrated life and lay people need to examine our conscience on our evangelization.”
The other men created cardinal are ineligible to vote in the College of Cardinals due to their age. They are: retired Archbishop Jorge Jiménez Carvajal of Cartagena, Colombia, 80; retired Archbishop Arrigo Miglio of Cagliari, Italy, who turns 80 on July 18; Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J. (Italy), professor of canon law, who turns 80 July 5; and Msgr. Fortunato Frezza, Italy, canon of St. Peter’s Basilica, 80.
With reporting by Ricardo da Silva, S.J., and Jim McDermott, S.J., associate editors at America.
Correction: This article has been updated to note that one of the 21 cardinals-designate announced by Pope Francis in May, retired Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent, Belgium, requested that Pope Francis not make him a cardinal to prevent abuse survivors “from being hurt again.” This article has been updated with an image of Cardinal-designate Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili, East Timor. An earlier version mistakenly showed Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of the Philippines.