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The 'model' has changed as new cardinals are named.

Pope Francis recently named twenty new cardinals; for the most part the names are unknown to Westerners, and only one is presently a member of the Vatican. It was known that he planned to increase the geographical diversity of the College of Cardinals. He wanted to give greater weight to the global south, where the Church is growing most rapidly. As Vatican watchers report, the archbishops named by Pope Francis are "drawn disproportionately from communities that are in pain: from Myanmar, a nation slowly emerging from under a brutal dictatorship; from Vietnam and Ethiopia, where the Church has suffered political oppression; from an Italian diocese coping with a flood of impoverished immigrants; and a Mexican diocese ravaged by the violence of drug traffickers." Pope Francis has accomplished two things: "he reminds us of the suffering that hundreds of millions of people endure every day and of our obligation to address their needs. Secondly, he gives pastors who are experts on human suffering a greater voice in the leadership of the universal Church" (Catholic-Culture. org, 5 Jan, 2015).

What is equally striking about the list is the exclusion of archbishops from the so-called "cardinalatial" sees of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia, where the red hat was expected to be bestowed in the consistory in February. Now it seems impossible that archbishops Gomez, Cupich and Chaput will ever become a 'prince' of the Church. Historically, cardinals were often prelates from historic archdioceses, with their own considerable spheres of influence (and often a larger payroll than the Vatican's). These cardinalatial sees were the world's wealthiest archdioceses, the most important Catholic centres outside Rome. But, as we know, Francis is not impressed by "princes." He is looking for cardinals who can provide fruitful advice to the Roman Pontiff and to select his replacement when he dies, or resigns.

Among the new cardinals under the age of 80 who are therefore eligible to vote in the next conclave are five European bishops, three from Asia, three from Latin America, including Mexico, two from Africa and two from Oceana. In addition to the 15 cardinal electors, Pope Francis named five other bishops over the age of 80 who will be elevated due to their "pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the Church."

The consistory ceremony will be held in Rome, Feb. 14-15, after which the number of cardinals under the age of 80 eligible to vote for Pope Francis' successor will be 125. Pope Paul VI had set a limit of 120 members in the College of Cardinals.

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Title Annotation:VATICAN; geographical diversity of the Catholic Church's Sacred College of Cardinals
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:4EXVA
Date:Feb 1, 2015
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