Vatican, Pope Francis appoints 21 cardinals in the Consistory

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Pope Francis, in the Consistory which is celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, creates 21 new cardinals. They come from all over the world, from Poland to Spain, from Malaysia to Hong Kong, up to South Sudan and the Holy Land. For those who were once called the “princes” of the Church, welcoming is a celebration. The Apostolic Palace opens its doors to friends, relatives, journalists. In the afternoon, however, a prayer vigil chaired by the Pope is scheduled for the upcoming Synod.

The ceremony

Shortly before 10am, Pope Francis arrived in the churchyard of St. Peter’s Basilica for the ordinary public consistory for the creation of 21 new cardinals, the imposition of the biretta, the delivery of the ring and the assignment of the title or deaconry. At the beginning of the celebration, the first of the new cardinals, the American Robert Francis Prevost, addressed the Pope, on behalf of everyone, an address of homage and thanks. Then after the prayer and the reading of a biblical passage from the Acts of the Apostles (12,1-11) the Pontiff delivered his homily. The Pope then reads the creation formula and solemnly proclaims the names of the new cardinals, announcing their presbyteral or diaconal order. The rite continues with the profession of faith of the new cardinals before the people of God and the oath of loyalty and obedience to Pope Francis and his successors. The new cardinals, according to the order of creation, kneel before the Pontiff who imposes on them the skullcap and cardinal’s hat, gives the cardinal’s ring and assigns each one a church in Rome as a sign of participation in the Pope’s pastoral concern in the Urbe, giving them the Bull of creation of cardinals and assignment of the Title or Deaconry. After the delivery of the Bull of creation of cardinals and assignment of the Title or Diaconate, Pope Francis exchanges the embrace of peace with each of the new cardinals. The official Italian delegation present is led by the Minister of the Interior Matteo Piantedosi. The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Lorenzo Fontana, was also present at the ceremony.

Who are the new cardinals

Of the 21 new cardinals, 18 have the right to vote in a future Conclave: Robert Francis Prevost, Augustinian, prefect of the dicastery for Bishops; Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the dicastery for the Eastern Churches; Victor Manuel Fernandez, prefect of the dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith; Emil Paul Tscherrig, apostolic nuncio to Italy; Christophe Louis Yves Georges Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States; Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Franciscan, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem; Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town; Angel Sixto Rossi, Jesuit, Archbishop of Cordoba (Argentina); Luis José Rueda Aparicio, archbishop of Bogotá; Grzegorz Rys, archbishop of Lodz (Poland); Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, archbishop of Juba (South Sudan); José Cobo Cano, archbishop of Madrid; Protase Rugambwa, coadjutor archbishop of Tabora (Tanzania); Sebastian Francis, Bishop of Penang (Malaysia); Stephen Chow Sau-yan, Jesuit, Bishop of Hong Kong; François-Xavier Bustillo, Conventual Franciscan, bishop of Ajaccio; Americo Manuel Alves Aguiar, current auxiliary of Lisbon and bishop-elect of Setubal; Angel Fernandez Artime, rector major of the Salesians. Added to them are three over eighty-year-olds: Agostino Marchetto, former apostolic nuncio and secretary emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People; Diego Rafael Padron Sanchez, archbishop emeritus of Cumaná (Venezuela); Luis Pascual Dri, Capuchin, confessor in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Pompeii, Buenos Aires. The nations of origin of the 21 new cardinals are from at least four continents: Italy (3), United States, Argentina (3), Colombia, Venezuela, Switzerland, France (2), Poland, Portugal, Spain (2), South Africa, South Sudan (which will have its first cardinal), Tanzania, Malaysia, Hong Kong-China.

The news received in July

Almost all the new cardinals say they received the news of the nomination last July 9th with surprise. Monsignor Grzegorz Wojciech Ryś, metropolitan archbishop of Łódź (Poland) replied to journalists who asked him if he expected this call from the Pope: “Absolutely not”. It was “an absolute surprise” also for the Argentinean Monsignor Angel Sixto Rossi , archbishop of Cordoba. “Jerusalem is the heart of the world and at the same time the periphery: with this nomination – underlined the Patriarch of the Latins Pierbattista Pizzaballa – it will have more attention in the panorama of the universal Church and also in the international community”. The nomination could instead be expected by the three heads of the dicastery: Robert Francis Prevost, 68 years old, American, prefect of the Dicastery for bishops; Claudio Gugerotti, 68 years old, archbishop, former apostolic nuncio to Belarus, Ukraine and Great Britain, since last January Prefect of Dicastery for the Oriental Churches; Víctor Manuel Fernandez, 61 years old, Argentinian, recently appointed Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

New Polish cardinal: Germans are not thinking of a schism

Monsignor Grzegorz Wojciech Ryś, one of the new cardinals, trusts in the Synod, which will open next week in the Vatican, as a moment of dialogue, discussion and prayer. “I’m not worried”, he tells journalists who ask him if the diversity of positions within the Church could cause concern. And he warns: “We must not think only from a European point of view, in the Synod it will be different”. The new Polish cardinal also speaks of the positions of the Germans, who ask for example blessings for gay couples, access to the priesthood for women, marriage for priests, on which there was a position taken several months ago, contrary, on the part of the Polish Episcopal Conference. “This is not a schism – said the Polish bishop speaking of the German Synodal Path -, there are different points of view”. The German and Polish bishops “will meet here and will have the opportunity to speak and listen to each other”.

The numbers of the Consistory

With today’s Consistory, the cardinal electors become 137 (to drop to 136 the following day because Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Bangladesh turns 80 on 1 October). This is an important figure because in the last twenty years the number of cardinals who can enter the conclave has always been lower. And thinking about the future conclave, this Consistory confirms the choice that Pope Francis made from the beginning, that is, to extend the origin of those who are called to choose to all areas of the world, starting from the ‘peripheries’ so loved by Bergoglio the Pontiff. Among other things, the vast majority, over 70%, of the cardinal electors will from today be appointed by Francis. Italy’s weight decreases: there will become 14 voters, considering that Pizzaballa, as happened with Giorgio Marengo, Italian but bishop in Mongolia, will be on the list of ‘Asians’. To get an idea, just think that there were twice as many in the 2013 conclave, the one that brought the Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the throne of Peter.