Pope Francis Names New Cardinals, Reflecting Shift to Developing World
Nine of Pontiff’s 15 Nominees Hail From Emerging Countries.
Pope Francis nominated 15 new members to the College of Cardinals on Sunday, with the majority hailing from small, developing countries such as Cape Verde, Myanmar and Tonga. The choices by the Argentine-born pontiff reflect his efforts to rebalance a College of Cardinals toward the developing world, where Catholicism is growing faster than in Europe and the U.S. The names also demonstrate the pope’s support for prelates with pastoral experience in smaller dioceses and for those coping with violence, migration and poverty. Nine of the new cardinals are from the emerging world, including Myanmar, Vietnam and Panama. The new batch represents 14 countries in total: five are from Europe, three each from Asia and Latin America, and two each from Africa and Oceania.
The 15 men are all under the age of 80, which makes them eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a future pope. The group of cardinals is the second appointed by Pope Francis, who will have chosen nearly a quarter of voting-age cardinals once they are elevated during a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Feb. 14. The pope chose just two new cardinals for Italy—which is strongly overrepresented in the College of Cardinals—but picked the archbishops of Ancona and Agrigento, two small dioceses, snubbing cities such as Venice that traditionally have had a red hat.
Pope Francis elevated just one member of the Curia, the Vatican’s Roman bureaucracy, but chose a Moroccan-born French prelate, Msgr. Dominique Mamberti, who heads the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court. About a quarter of voting-age cardinals now come from the Curia. Pope Francis is in the midst of a sweeping reform of the bloated bureaucracy of the Curia, which has been involved in repeated scandals in recent years.
Last February, Pope Francis named 19 new cardinals, many also from the developing world. The choice of cardinals is among the most important tasks of a pope. In addition to choosing a new pontiff, the cardinals lead influential dioceses around the world and serve as the heads of key Vatican departments.
New cardinals are named when existing ones turn 80 and lose their eligibility to vote in a papal election. By the time of next month’s elevation ceremony, or consistory, there will be 10 vacancies, with two cardinals turning 80 soon afterward. Under rules set by Pope Paul VI, the College of Cardinals Electors should have a maximum of 120 voting-age members.
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