AFP, published on Saturday, August 27, 2022 at 7:10 pm.
Men of the earth, from different continents and sensitive “peripheries”: Pope Francis created twenty new cardinals close to his line on Saturday, a further step in preparation in his succession.
This consistory, the eighth of Francis’ pontificate since his election in 2013, comes amid speculation about the state of health of the 85-year-old pope, who has been weakened by knee pain and who left the “open” possibility of stopping one day in his ministry.
Under the gilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in the presence of dozens of cardinals and diplomatic representatives, the sovereign pope created twenty new cardinals, of which sixteen “electors” – those under the age of 80 – can to participate. in the coming conclave.
As usual, the new “princes of the Church” kneel before the pope to receive their red barrette (square headdress) and their cardinal’s ring. But only 19 of them attended, Ghana’s Archbishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr had to be hospitalized due to a heart problem.
“A cardinal loves the Church (…) by dealing with great questions, like taking care of the little ones; by meeting the great ones of this world, like the little ones, the great ones in the presence of God”, declared the sovereign pontiff in his homily, who arrived in a wheelchair but seemed to be in good condition.
The appointment of these high-ranking bishops responsible for assisting the pope has been scrutinized by observers who see it as an indication of the possible line of the future spiritual leader of the 1.3 billion Catholics.
– “Honored” –
Sensitive to minority communities, social fiber and evangelization, the Argentinian Jesuit freed itself from the traditional selection of archbishops in big cities, preferring less expected profiles.
Pope Francis has now elected 83 cardinals from the current total of 132 electors, nearly two-thirds of the proportion needed to elect a new pope, although that election is not always unanimous. -an.
With 40% of voters, Europe thus remains the most represented continent, ahead of South America and Asia (16% each), Africa (13%) and North America (12%).
Among the famous personalities is the American Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego in California who is considered progressive for his positions on homosexual Catholics in particular.
Also worth noting is the unexpected election of the Italian missionary Giorgio Marengo, Apostolic Prefect of Oulan-Bator (Mongolia), who at the age of 48 became the youngest cardinal in the world.
“With simplicity and humility, I listen to people who are more experienced than me,” he told reporters on Saturday, saying he was “surprised” and “honored” by his appointment.
– “Getting to know each other” –
Jean-Marc Aveline, archbishop of Marseilles particularly committed to inter-religious dialogue, became the sixth Frenchman in the college of cardinals.
Other men in the field wearing the purple robe, the Nigerian Peter Okpaleke, the Brazilian Leonardo Ulrich Steiner or even Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva, Archbishop of Dili (East Timor).
Three future cardinals already occupy positions of responsibility in the Curia, the “government” of the Vatican: the Briton Arthur Roche, the South Korean Lazzaro You Heung-sik and the Spaniard Fernando Vérgez Alzaga.
The ceremony was followed by a traditional “courtesy visit” to the Vatican, which allowed the public to greet the new “princes of the Church” one by one.
In the process, Monday and Tuesday, a meeting will be held with about 200 cardinals and religious leaders from around the world, which the Pope wants to gather to discuss the new “Constitution” of the Vatican, which was implemented in June , and the future from the church. A meeting that, indirectly, will be able to prepare the next conclave.
It will be an opportunity “to get to know each other better, because we come from all over the world”, as well as to discuss the “reorientation of the Curia”, said Bishop McElroy.
Jorge Bergoglio has recently accelerated his reforms of the Curia and its finances and wishes to introduce more horizontality in the governance of the Church, giving more space to women and the laity.