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Francis continues to diversify cardinals.

ROME -- Continuing to diversify global representation in the most select body of Catholic prelates, Pope Francis announced Jan. 4 that he will create 20 new cardinals from 18 countries--with several from places never before included in the elite group.

Among those Francis has chosen to become new cardinals: bishops from the island nations of Cape Verde and Tonga; archbishops from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam; and the archbishop of an Italian community dealing heavily with refugees and migrants from Africa.

Francis made the long-expected announcement during his weekly address Jan. 4 following the noontime Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square.

Cardinals, sometimes known as the "princes of the church" and for their red vestments, are usually senior Catholic prelates who serve either as archbishops in the world's largest dioceses or in the Vatican's central bureaucracy Their principal role is to gather in secret conclave after the death or resignation of a pope to elect his successor.

Historically, cardinals have come from certain larger cities known for their Catholic populations or global importance. Francis has sought to diversify representation in the group, choosing men from places long under-represented or even not represented in the College of Cardinals.

Of Francis' 20 choices, seven come from Europe, five from Latin America, three from Asia, three from Africa, and two from Oceania. There are none from the United States or Canada.

Three come from countries that have never had a cardinal: Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado of Santiago de Cabo Verde in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago of Cape Verde; Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi of the Pacific Ocean archipelago of Tonga; and Archbishop Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar.



Only one of the new cardinals currently holds a Vatican post: French Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, who recently replaced U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke as the head of the Vatican's supreme court.


The pope will elevate the new cardinals at a formal ceremony, known as a consistory, Feb. 14 at the Vatican.

Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said in a statement Jan. 4 that Francis' choices for cardinals indicate the pontiff does not feel bound to "the traditions of the cardinalatial sees which were motivated by historical reasons in different countries in which the cardinalate was considered almost automatically connected to such sees. Instead, we have several nominations of archbishops and bishops of sees that in the past have not had a cardinal."


Five of the new cardinals are over 80, the age at which cardinals can no longer vote in conclaves to elect a pope. Announcing the names, Francis said he had chosen those five to "represent many bishops that ... have given testimony of love to Christ and the people of God."

Among the Europeans announced as cardinals is Italian Archbishop Francesco Montenegro, who heads the Sicilian archdiocese of Agrigento. Located on Sicily's west coast, directly across the Mediterranean Sea from Tunisia, Agrigento has been a landing point for tens of thousands of refugees and migrants from Africa and the Middle East.

New Cardinal-designate Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, archbishop of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said in an NCR interview in November 2013 that Catholics across Africa are seeking a revitalized church under Francis that is "true to its call to the Gospel and not a power structure."

"We don't need a power structure," said Souraphiel, who is also head of the Ethiopian bishops' conference.

"That's why the Papal States were given away," Souraphiel said, referring to the vast Italian landholdings controlled by the papacy until the 19th century. The Vatican, he said, should be a "moral voice in the world [that is] credible."

February's consistory will be Francis' second, following his creation of 19 cardinals in February 2014. After the upcoming consistory, Francis will have named 31 of 125 cardinals able to vote in a papal conclave. Of the entire group, 58 will come from Europe, 20 from Latin America, 15 from Africa, 15 from North America, 14 from Asia, and three from Oceania.

The ceremony creating new cardinals will be one of several meetings that will make for an unusually busy February at the Vatican.

The first event will be a Feb. 6-8 plenary session of the new papal commission on sexual abuse of minors, followed by a Feb. 9-11 meeting of the Council of Cardinals, the group advising the pope on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy All of the cardinals will then meet Feb. 12-13 before the Feb. 14 formal elevation of the new cardinals.


New cardinals under 80 eligible to vote in a conclave:

* Tongan Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi, 53

* Uruguayan Archbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet of Montevideo, 55

* French Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, 62

* Thai Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok, 65

* Cape Verdean Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado of Santiago de Cabo Verde, 65

* Portuguese Patriarch Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente of Lisbon, 66

* Ethiopian Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel of Addis Ababa, 66

* New Zealand Archbishop John Dew of Wellington, 66

* Myanmar Archbishop Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, 66

* Italian Archbishop Francesco

Montenegro of Agrigento, 68

* Spanish-born Panamanian Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan of David, 70

* Spanish Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Valladolid, 72

* Mexican Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia, 75

* Italian Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli of Ancona-Osimo, 75

* Vietnamese Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon of Hanoi, 76

New cardinals over 80 and ineligible to vote in a conclave:

* German Archbishop Karl-Joseph Rauber, 80, a former nuncio

* Argentine Archbishop Luis Hector Villalba, retired, of Tucuman, 80

* Mozambican Bishop Julio Duarte Langa, retired, of Xai-Xai, 87

* Italian Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, retired pro-major penitentiary at the Vatican, 88

* Colombian Archbishop Jose de Jesus Pimiento Rodriguez, retired, of Manizales, 95

Caption: Archbishop Charles Maung Bo visits St. Paul's Missionary School in the suburbs of Yangon, Myanmar, Jan. 5.

Caption: Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi

Caption: Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel

Caption: Archbishop Francesco Montenegro, right, aboard an Italian Coast Guard boat during Pope Francis' trip to the island of Lampedusa, Southern Italy, on July 8, 2013

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@]
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Title Annotation:WORLD; Pope Francis I
Author:McElwee, Joshua J.
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Geographic Code:4EXVA
Date:Jan 16, 2015
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