Vatican City – On August 27, Pope Francis elevated 20 Catholic prelates from around the world – including the Bishop of San Diego, Robert McElroy – to the rank of cardinal, urging those who are often called princes of the Church to instead wield “power without claim” and preach the Gospel with an openness to all “without exception”.
“The Lord wants to give us his own apostolic courage, his zeal for the salvation of every human being, without exception,” Francis said. “He wants to share with us his magnanimity, his unlimited and unconditional love, because his heart is on fire with the mercy of the Father.”
During the ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica, officially known as the Consistory, the Pope awarded each new cardinal a new signet ring and red hat, known as a biretta, and declared their ministries, as that of the apostle Paul and other missionaries of the Gospel, must be marked by the “exhausting but sweet joy of evangelizing”.
Among their responsibilities, Francis said, is the work of “cooking food for poor families, migrants and the homeless” and possessing a “universal vision always attentive to the particular.”
“This, brothers and sisters, is the fire that Jesus came ‘to bring to earth,’ a fire that the Holy Spirit ignites in the hearts, hands and feet of all who follow him,” the pope said. .
Francis, who is 85 and suffers from persistent knee pain, arrived at the ceremony in a wheelchair and remained seated throughout.
McElroy of California, who is now the seventh active resident cardinal in the United States, was joined by three Vatican department heads: British Cardinal Arthur Roche, who heads the Vatican’s liturgy office; South Korean Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik, who heads the Vatican Clergy Office; and Spanish Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, who governs Vatican City State.
In terms of geographical diversity, the pope also elevated five other bishops from Asia, including for the first time a cardinal from India’s Dalit community, formerly known as “untouchables” within the Hindu caste system; three bishops from Latin America; and two African bishops.
The pope told the new cardinals that their service to the Church should be marked by the virtues of “gentleness, fidelity, closeness and tenderness” in order to “bring many people to savor the presence of Jesus living among us.”
In remarks at the start of the event on behalf of all the new cardinals, Roche told the pope they shared his “desire and commitment to communion in the church.”
“From you, Holy Father, we learn to resist the temptation of any narrowness of mind and heart which shrinks to the size of oneself instead of expanding ‘to the measure of the fullness of Christ,’ he said, adding, “Our mission today is to help you carry that cross, not add to its weight.”
The pope first announced on May 29 that he would create new cardinals at the end of August, originally announcing a total of 21 names.
In June, retired Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent, Belgium, asked Francis to withdraw his nomination, and the pope agreed, following complaints about Van Looy’s handling of cases of abuse of the clergy.
The August 27 ceremony is the eighth time that Francis has created new cardinals. The last event took place in November 2021, in a partly virtual presbytery at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this consistory, 132 cardinals are under the age of 80 and are therefore eligible to vote in a papal conclave. Of those cardinal electors, 11 were nominated by Pope John Paul II, 38 by Pope Benedict XVI and 83 by Francis – meaning Francis has named more than 62% of the men who will ultimately elect his successor.
(This figure does not include Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who remains a titular cardinal but renounced “the rights connected with the cardinalate” in September 2020 due to a series of financial scandals for which he is currently on trial at the Vatican.)
The College of Cardinals now consists of members from 89 countries. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, Francis significantly made the body more diverse and less European during his nearly decade-long papacy.
Since 2013, the percentage of European cardinals has increased from 52% in 2013 to 40% in 2022. As a result, representation in Asia-Pacific has increased from 9% to 17%; Sub-Saharan Africans from 9% to 12%; and in Latin America from 16% to 18%.
Following the August 27 consistory, Francis asked the cardinals of the world to come together for two days of meetings on August 28 and 29 to discuss the new apostolic constitution of the Vatican, Evangelium Predicatewho reorganized the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s central bureaucracy.
Their meeting will mark the first time since 2015 that Francis meets the entire College of Cardinals. According to the Vatican press office, 197 people are expected, including Eastern Rite Catholic Patriarchs and a delegation from the Vatican Secretariat of State.
McElroy — the first cardinal in the history of the Diocese of San Diego — told NCR in an Aug. 25 interview that he thinks the meeting has two main purposes: to discuss the direction of the church’s global leadership and better understand the specific configuration. Vatican offices.
“Maintenance is not enough,” he said of the inner workings of the Vatican. “Bureaucracies tend to fall into the interview, we all do that on some level.”
In contrast, the new constitution, he noted, “stresses that active evangelism and missionary outreach and development are essential to the life of the church and the curia.”
In an Aug. 27 interview just before the consistory, Roche offered a similar assessment, saying the meeting is not just about how the curia works, but also about the nature of the pope’s relationship with bishops around the world and using this curia to be a bridge between the two.”
“It also calls for transparency and greater collaboration at the episcopal conference level and at the individual bishop level with the See of Peter,” Roche told NCR.
“If it comes through in this important, highly international gathering,” he added, “I think it will do the gospel a great service.”
The 16 new cardinal electors are:
- Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments;
- Lazare You Heung-si, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy;
- Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State and of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State;
- Jean-Marc Aveline, Archbishop of Marseilles, France;
- Peter Okpaleke, Bishop of Ekwulobia, Nigeria;
- Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, Archbishop of Manaus, Brazil;
- Filipe Neri António Sebastião di Rosário Ferrão, Archbishop of Goa e Damão, India;
- Robert 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 Brasília, Brazil;
- Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa, Ghana (unable to attend consistory due to health issues);
- William Goh Seng Chye, Archbishop of Singapore;
- Adalberto Martínez Flores, Archbishop of Asunción, Paraguay; and,
- Giorgio Marengo, the Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, in Mongolia.
New cardinals over 80:
- Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, retired Archbishop of Cartagena, Colombia;
- Arrigo Miglio, retired archbishop of Cagliari, Italy;
- Gianfranco Ghirlanda, Jesuit, respected professor of theology and canon law and former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University; and,
- Fortunato Frezza, biblical scholar and canon of Saint Peter’s Basilica.