VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis on Sunday appointed 21 new cardinals, most of them from continents other than Europe – who have dominated the Catholic hierarchy for most of church history – further shaping the group of people who will one day elect the next could pope.
Sixteen of those who will receive Francis’ prestigious red cardinal’s hat in a consistory ceremony at the Vatican on August 27 are under the age of 80 and could therefore vote for his successor if a conclave – in which popes are secretly elected – were to be held .
Francis read the names of his choice after delivering traditional Sunday sermons to the public in St. Peter’s Square from an open window of the Apostolic Palace.
Among those chosen by the pope to receive the prestigious red hat will be two prelates from India and one each from Ghana, Nigeria, Singapore, East Timor, Paraguay and Brazil, in line with Francis’ determination to put church leaders on the global face to reflect the Catholic Church.
With church growth largely stagnant or sluggish at best in much of Europe and North America, the Vatican has kept a close eye on its throng in developing countries, including in Africa, where the number of believers has been increasing in recent decades. Only one new cardinal was appointed from the United States: Robert Walter McElroy, Bishop of San Diego, California.
This is the eighth group of cardinals Francis has appointed since becoming pope in 2013. A sizeable majority of those eligible to vote in a conclave were appointed by him, increasing the likelihood that they will elect as his successor someone who shares his papacy’s priorities, including attention to those living on the fringes of society , and for environmental crises.
A total of 131 cardinals would be young enough to elect a pope once the new group is inducted, while the number of cardinals too old to vote will rise to 96.
Popes have traditionally chosen their closest Vatican advisers and collaborators from among the ranks of cardinals, known as the “princes of the Church.”
These are the churchmen named by Francis:
— Jean-Marc Aveline, Archbishop of Marseille, France; Peter Okpaleke, Bishop of Ekwulobia, Nigeria; Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, Archbishop of Manaus, Brazil; Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastao di Rosario Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa and Damao, India; Robert Walter McElroy, Bishop of San Diego, California; Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva, Archbishop of Dili, East Timor; Oscar Cantoni, Bishop of Como, Italy; Anthony Poola. Archbishop of Hyderabad, India; Paulo Cezar Costa, Archbishop of Brasilia, Brazil; Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa, Ghana; William Goh Seng Chye, Archbishop of Singapore; Adalberto Martinez Flores, Archbishop of Asuncion, Paraquay; and Giorgio Marengo, Prefect Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
In addition to these churchmen, also under 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave, are three prelates working at the Vatican: Arthur Roche of Great Britain, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Lazzarro You Heung-sik of South Korea, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; and Fernando Vergez Alzaga of Spain, President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and President of the Government of Vatican City State.
In making his decisions, Francis held to the tradition of appointing some who are too old to vote in a conclave but whose decades of dedication to the Catholic Church are honored by being bestowed the rank of cardinal. In this latest series of nominations, these are Jorge Enrique Jimenez Carvajal, Archbishop Emeritus of Cartagena, Colombia; Lucas Van Looy, Archbishop Emeritus of Ghent, Belgium; Arrigo Miglio, Archbishop Emeritus of Cagliari, Sardinia; Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a Jesuit theology professor; and Fortunato Frezza, canon of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Assuming the Consistory chair this summer adds to an already ambitious schedule in the coming months for Francis, who has recently transitioned to a wheelchair or cane due to a knee ligament problem. On Saturday, the Vatican released details of the 85-year-old Pope’s July 2-7 pilgrimage to Congo and South Sudan. He is also scheduled to make a pilgrimage to Canada later in July to personally apologize for the abuses perpetrated by churchmen and church institutions against indigenous peoples in that country.
Almost as significant as those who were elected cardinals are those who were not elected, despite holding offices that would traditionally have earned them the red hat in the past.
He overtook prominent Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone in Sunday’s election of Francis. Earlier this month, Cordileone said he would no longer allow US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion because of her pro-abortion rights campaign.
While Francis has not commented publicly on the soon-to-be-anticipated US Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights, he has in the past denounced the political weaponry of communion.
The new US Cardinal McElroy has very different views than Cordileone. He was among the relatively few U.S. bishops a few years ago to call for U.S. church policies to better reflect Francis’ concern for global poverty. He also signed a statement last year expressing his support for LGBTQ youth and denouncing bullying against them.
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