Pope Francis greets the crowd from his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan 4. The pope announced the names of 20 new cardinals he will create at a Feb. 14 consistory.

CNS PHOTO | ALESSANDRO BIANCHI, REUTERS

Pope Francis greets the crowd from his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan 4. The pope announced the names of 20 new cardinals he will create at a Feb. 14 consistory.

January 12, 2015
FRANCIS ROCCA
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Underscoring the geographical diversity of his selections, Pope Francis has named 20 new cardinals, 11 of them from the global South.

The new cardinals come "from 14 nations of every continent, showing the inseparable link between the Church of Rome and the particular churches present in the world," the pope said. Fifteen of the new cardinals are under age 80 and will be eligible to vote in a papal election.

With his Jan. 4 announcement, the pope continues to give more representation in the College of Cardinals to poorer countries, a movement he started a year ago.

According to the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the new cardinals will include the first in history from Cape Verde, Tonga and Myanmar.

The Feb. 14 consistory will bring the total number of cardinals under the age of 80 to 125. Until they reach their 80th birthdays, cardinals are eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.

The shift reflects the pope's emphasis on Africa and Asia, where the Church is growing fastest, and on his native region of Latin America, home to about 40 per cent of the world's Catholics.

Three of the new cardinal electors hail from Asia, three from Latin America, two from Africa and two from Oceania.

Of the five Europeans on the list, three lead dioceses in Italy and Spain that have not traditionally had cardinals as bishops – another sign of Pope Francis' willingness to break precedent.

While giving red hats to the archbishops of Ancona-Osimo and Agrigento, Italy, the pope will once again pass over the leaders of Venice and Turin, both historically more prestigious dioceses.

None of the new cardinals hails from the U.S. or Canada. In February 2014, Pope Francis elevated Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec.

The U.S. currently has 11 cardinal electors and Canada four – Lacroix, Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, 78, of Montreal and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation of Bishops.

Nine of the new cardinals have served as heads of their national bishops' conferences.

The continuing geographic shift is incremental in nature. With the new appointments, cardinals from Europe and North America will make up 57 per cent of those eligible to elect the next pope, down from 60 per cent on Jan. 4.

A number of the selections also reflect Pope Francis' emphasis on social justice. The new Mexican cardinal leads a diocese that has been hard hit by the current wave of drug-related violence in his country.

One of the Italian cardinals-designate, the archbishop of Agrigento in Sicily, leads the Italian bishops' commission on migration, an issue on which Pope Francis has placed particular importance.

In July 2013, the pope visited the southern Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, a major entry point for undocumented immigrants to Europe, and mourned the many who had died attempting to cross the sea.

Cardinal-designate Soane Patita Mafi of Tonga is, at age 53, the youngest of the new cardinals. He is one of three bishops, as opposed to archbishops, who will receive the red hat.

ONE CURIAL CARDINAL

Only one of the new cardinals, the head of the Vatican's highest court, is a member of the Church's central administration, the Roman Curia, which currently accounts for about a quarter of all cardinal electors.

In addition to 15 new electors, Pope Francis named five new cardinals who are over the age of 80 and, therefore, ineligible to vote in a conclave. Popes have used such nominations to honour churchmen for their scholarship or other contributions.

Announcing the appointments, Pope Francis noted that the ceremony to induct the new cardinals will follow a two-day meeting of the entire college, Feb. 12 and 13, "to reflect on guidelines and proposals for reform of the Roman Curia."

MAJOR REFORM

The pope's nine-member Council of Cardinals is currently working on a major reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, including a new apostolic constitution for the curia.

Pope Francis said he had chosen to honour five retired bishops "distinguished for their pastoral charity in service to the Holy See and the Church," representing "so many bishops who, with the same pastoral solicitude, have given testimony of love for Christ and the people of God, whether in particular churches, the Roman Curia or the diplomatic service of the Holy See."

The five new honorary cardinals hail from Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Italy and Mozambique.