Pope Francis creates 20 cardinals to approach his own, prepare for the future of the Church


Pope Francis appointed 20 cardinals on Saturday, most of whom share his progressive vision for the church and will have a major impact on the choice of his eventual successor. Elected in 2013, the pope appointed 83 of the 132 cardinal electors, or about 63% of those, which allows him to have around him a majority of men with a sensitivity close to his own.

Choice is critical to the future of the church. People from different continents and sensitive to “marginal regions”: Pope Francis appointed 20 new cardinals close to his line on Saturday, August 27, another step in his preparations for succession.

This consistory, the eighth of Francis’ pontificate since his election in 2013, comes amid speculation about the state of health of the 85-year-old pope, weakened by knee pain and who left “open” the possibility of giving up a day in his ministry.

Under the gilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in the presence of dozens of cardinals and diplomatic representatives, the Pope appointed twenty new cardinals, sixteen of whom were “electors” — under the age of 80 — Will be able to attend at future conferences.

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As usual, the new “Prince of the Church” knelt before the Pope to receive their red hairpin (square tiara) and cardinal’s ring. However, only 19 of them were present, and Ghana’s Archbishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr had to be hospitalized for heart problems.

“The Cardinal loves the Church by dealing with the big problems and taking care of the little ones (…); to meet the great people of this world, like little children who are great before God”, in wheelchair but looking fine The Pope declared in his sermon.

The appointments of these senior bishops, charged with assisting the pope, have come under scrutiny by observers who say they show a possible line for future spiritual leaders of 1.3 billion Catholics.

Expect fewer profiles

Sensitive to minority communities, social fabric and evangelism, the Argentine Jesuit has moved away from the traditional choice of a metropolitan archbishop in favor of a less desirable image.

Pope Francis has now selected 83 cardinals from the current electorate of 132, almost two-thirds of the proportion needed to elect a new pope, although the selection is always unpredictable.

With 40% of voters, Europe remains the continent with the most representation, ahead of South America and Asia (16% each), Africa (13%) and North America (12%).

The most famous of these is American Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego, California, who is considered progressive especially for his stance on gay Catholics.

Also notable is the unexpected choice of Italian missionary Giorgio Marengo, the apostolic governor of Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), who at 48 became the world’s youngest cardinal.

“With simplicity and humility, I listen to people who are more experienced than me,” he told the media on Saturday, believing he was “surprised” and “honoured” by his appointment.

More space for women and non-professionals

Jean-Marc Avelin, Archbishop of Marseille, who is particularly committed to interreligious dialogue, became the sixth Frenchman at the Cardinal Academy.

Others who wore purple robes on the field were Nigerian Peter Okpalek, Brazilian Leonardo Ulrich Steiner and even Dili (East Timor) Archbishop Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva .

Three future cardinals already hold key positions in the Vatican’s “government” Holy See: Briton Arthur Roche, South Korean Lazaro Yoo Heung-sik and Spaniard Fernando Vergez Arzaga.

The ceremony was followed by a traditional “ceremonial visit” to the Vatican, allowing the public to greet the new “Prince of the Church” one by one.

Along the way, Monday and Tuesday are due to meet with about 200 cardinals and religious leaders from around the world, whom the Pope hopes to bring together to discuss the Vatican’s new “constitution”, which goes into effect in 2018. June, from the future of the church. Indirectly, it will be possible to prepare a meeting of the next conclave.

It will be an opportunity to “get to know each other better as we come from all over the world” and to discuss “the repositioning of the Holy See”, Bishop McElroy revealed.

Jorge Bergoglio has recently accelerated his reforms of the Holy See and its finances, and wants to introduce more horizontality in church governance, giving more space for women and laypeople.

with AFP and Reuters

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