On 12 January pope Francis announced the surnames of the people whom he is going to raise to the cardinal dignity during a consistory on 22 February 2014. The Cardinal Collegium will consist of 218 members including 122 electors – it means that the limit of 120 participants of the conclave is going to be exceeded, but for a short time, because in May two Cardinals will reach the age of 80

New cardinals of pope Francis can be divided into 3 groups: archbishops presiding over important dycasteries of the Roman Curia and Bishops’ Synod, diocesan bishops from various parts of the world and senior archbishops, especially the ones meritorious for the Church.

The first groups are the three Italians: archbishop Pietro Parolin – the Vatican State; archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri – the general secretary of Bishops’s Synod; archbishop Beniamino Stella – a prefect of the Congregation for Clergy and Germany – archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller – the senior bishop of Ratyzbona, a prefect of the Congregation for Faith Teaching.

The second group is the biggest, and consists of archbishops from 12 countries. These are: archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols – archbishop of Westminster, the primate of England and Wales; archbishop Leopoldo Jose Brenes Solorzano – archbishop of Managua in Nikaragua; archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix – archbishop Quebec in Canada; archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa – archbishop of Abidżan on the Ivory Coast; archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta – archbishop of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; archbishop Gualtiero Bessetti – archbishop of Perugia-Cittadella Pieve in Italy; archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli – archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina; archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung – archbishop of Seoul in Southern Korea; archbishop Ricardo EzzatiAndrello SDB – archbishop of Santiago del Chile in Chile; archbishop Philippe Nakellentuba Quedraogo – archbishop of Quagadougou in Burkina Faso; archbishop Orlando Beltran Quevedo OMI – archbishop of Cotabato in Philippines and bishop ChiblyLanglois – bishop of Les Cayes in Haiti.

There are three senior archbishops who will be enrolled into the Cardinal Collegium: archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla – an Italian personal secretary of John XXIII, archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar CMF – the senior archbishop of Pampeluna and Tudela in Spain, and archbishop Kelvin Edward Felix – the senior archbishop of Bastries in Saint Lucia.

Geography of pope Francis

One can conclude from the index of the cardinals that the Pope pays a great attention to the mission of pastors presiding over dioceses, because 12 of them are going to be cardinal. As Fr. Federico Lombardi, the chief of the Vatican Press Office said, in the election of cardinals, pope Francis paid attention to poor countries which is proven by the nomination of the cardinals from Burkina Faso and Haiti, and also to archdioceses which had never had archbishops, like Cotabato on the Philippine island Mindanao.

The pope elected cardinals among the archbishops mainly from outside Europe and the Roman Curia – 9 from 19 elected cardinals come from Latin America, Asia and Africa. Francis continues the process of enrolling cardinals from the Third World into the Cardinal Collegium, which was initiated with the last consistory of Benedict XVI (24 November 2012).

The Italians in the Cardinal Collegium

For centuries nearly all members of the Cardinal Collegium had been the Italians. A great impulse for making the Cardinal Collegium and the Roman Curia international was given by Paul VI, although the Italians still held key posts in managing the Church. When Benedict XVI raised many Italians to the cardinal dignity during a consistory in February 2012, the situation in the Cardinal Collegium became paradoxical, because 24 per cent of elected cardinals were the Italians (30 among 125), and only 22 Cardinals were from Latin America, where over 40 per cent Catholics live.

During the current consistory pope Francis will put on the cardinal biretta on heads of the four Italians: three of them are his closest cooperators in Vatican, with the state secretary Pietro Parolin in the helm, the fourth Italian is archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti. Cardinal nomination is a real surprise for Bassetti. The last time when the archbishop of Perugia became the cardinal was in 1852 – it was cardinal Gioacchino Pecci, who, 25 years later, was elected the pope and took on the name of Leon XIII. Everyone was surprised by the fact that neither archbishop the metropolitan of Turyn nor the patriarch of Venice became cardinals. The pope chose a person who, in his opinion, deserved the nomination – a humble bishop of Franciscan character, a fervent pastor, close to people and priests.

Cardinal nominations of pope Francis as a surprise

The Holy Father Francis made us accustomed to surprises and not applying to the previous Vatican norms. One of them was informing cardinals electedby the Pope about the papal decision via the Apostolic Nunciature. However, for many people Francis’ decision was a complete surprise. Archbishop Leopoldo Jose Brenes Solorzano heard about it from the priest who had woken him up with a telephone call at 5 a.m., when he found out on radio about raising the archbishop Managui to the cardinal dignity. Whereas, the archbishop Santiago del Chile – Ricardo Ezzati Andrello found out about his nomination from newspapers. The nomination was also a surprise for archbishop Chibly Langlois from Haiti and for many other new cardinals.

A letter to ’brothers cardinals’

Francis wrote a letter to every cardinal nominated by him, whose content was made public. The Pope explains in the letter that being a cardinal does not mean advancement or honour but it is ministry which demands great heart and love. The Holy Father recommends not to celebrate the raising to the cardinal dignity too sumptuously: ‘Please, accept this nomination with pure and humble heart. You should not celebrate it in a way which is inconsistent with the Gospel and principles of simplicity, poverty and consciousness’.

A process against the new cardinal

Among cardinal nominees there is 84-year-old archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar CNF, a very appreciated theologian. Pope Francis admitted that he had read all his works. In January the aged theologian gave an interview to a Spanish newspaper in which he commented on the statement of the Pope about homosexuality, saying, that Francis ‘shows respect to all people but he does not change or distort the traditional Magisterium of the Church. Showing love to a homosexual person and accepting the person is one thing, but morally justifying homosexual behaviours is a different thing. I can say to somebody that he has a kind of frailty but it does not mean that I have to stop appreciating and helping him. I think that this is the attitude of the Pope’. Because homosexual groups do not tolerate the words ‘frailty’, ‘lack’, the theologian added: ‘I say very respectfully that homosexuality is an infirm sign of sexuality which has its own structure and its purpose – procreation. Signalizing to a homosexual person his frailties is not an insult but help, because many cases of homosexuality can be normalized thanks to suitable therapies’. The cardinal is going to be on trial and may be sentenced to imprisonment for this statement which reflects the attitude of the Catholic Church included in the catechism. The case of archbishop Aguilar should make everyone reflect on it, because he helps us realize the fact what will be happening in the world if the laws punishing for the alleged homophobia are introduced.


"Niedziela" 8/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: