Pope Francis cements legacy, stamps Church future with new cardinals By Reuters


© Reuters. Pope Francis attends the consistory ceremony to raise Roman Catholic prelates to the rank of cardinal, in Saint Peter’s Sq. on the Vatican, September 30, 2023. REUTERS/Remo Casilli


By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Saturday additional cemented his legacy, elevating 21 prelates to the excessive rank of cardinal and considerably elevating the proportion of electors chosen by him who may have the appropriate to vote for his successor.

At a ceremony in St. Peter’s Sq. often known as a consistory, Francis “created” 21 new cardinals, the red-hatted “princes of the Church” who’re his closest advisers on the Vatican and around the globe.

There are actually 137 cardinal electors, about 73 % of them chosen by Francis. This will increase – however doesn’t assure – the chance that the subsequent pope will share his imaginative and prescient of a extra progressive, inclusive Church.

Eighteen of the 21 are underneath the age of 80 and thus eligible underneath Church legislation to enter a secret conclave to elect the subsequent pope after Francis’ loss of life or resignation. They’re often known as cardinal electors. The three 80 or over got the honour due to their lengthy service to the Church.

The brand new cardinals come from the U.S., France, Italy, Argentina, Switzerland, South Africa, Spain, Colombia, South Sudan, Hong Kong, Poland, Malaysia, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Portugal.

South Sudan received its first cardinal and Malaysia received the second in its historical past, a continuation of Francis’ coverage of giving extra recognition to locations he has known as the “peripheries” of the world, typically these racked by struggle or the place Catholics are a minority.


One important appointment is that of Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-Yan of Hong Kong. Chow is likely one of the main hyperlinks to the Catholic Church in communist China, the place the Vatican is making an attempt to enhance circumstances for Catholics. The bishop made a historic go to to Beijing in April.

One other is that of Italian Bishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Francis’ apostolic administrator within the Holy Land, the place the Vatican fears that the historic presence of Christians is underneath menace.

“Range is important; it’s indispensable,” Francis stated in his homily on the service, throughout which every new cardinal obtained a hoop of workplace and the crimson, three-blade hat often known as a “biretta”.

It was the pope’s ninth consistory since his election in 2013 and continued adjustments over the previous decade, throughout which the proportion of Asian and African cardinal electors has grown whereas that of these from Europe has fallen.

Francis turns 87 in December and whether or not he convokes one other consistory subsequent yr or in 2025 depends upon how lengthy he lives. Whereas he makes use of a wheelchair and a cane and has undergone a number of operations, general he has not slowed down and nonetheless retains a busy schedule.

On October 4, he’ll open a month-long main assembly within the Vatican, often known as a synod, that might chart the Church’s future.

In his homily on Saturday morning he known as for “an ever extra symphonic and synodal Church”.

Utilizing the metaphor of an orchestra, Francis appeared to confer with divisions between progressives and conservatives within the 1.3 billion member Church, saying one part or instrument can’t play alone or drown out the others.

It was his job, as “conductor” to pay attention and attempt to obtain a “artistic constancy”.

The Oct. 4-29 synod has been in preparation for 2 years, throughout which Catholics around the globe have been requested about their imaginative and prescient for the way forward for the Church.

Proponents have welcomed the consultations as a possibility to vary the Church’s energy dynamics and provides a larger voice to put Catholics, together with girls, and folks on the margins of society.

Conservatives say the method has been a waste of time, might erode the hierarchical construction of the almost 1.3 billion-member Church and in the long term may dilute conventional doctrine. A second last session will probably be held in 2024.

(This story has been corrected to point out that Malaysian is the second within the nation’s historical past, not the primary, in paragraph 6)

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