SHAFAQNA- Pope Francis named his second group of new cardinals on Sunday, including 15 who will be eligible to elect the pope’s successor after his death or resignation. Many are from developing countries, reflecting the Roman Catholic Church’s growth in Asia and Africa.
The bishops and archbishops come from Italy, France, Portugal, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Mexico, Myanmar, Thailand, Uruguay, Spain, Panama, Cape Verde and Tonga, representing “every continent, to manifest the indissoluble links between the Church of Rome and the particular churches present in the world,” the pope said.
The new cardinals from Myanmar, Tonga and Cape Verde come from countries that have never been represented in the upper echelons of the church’s hierarchy, Vatican officials said. Nine come from developing countries; only one — from Wellington, New Zealand — is a native English speaker. Five are European.
“The most evident criteria is evidently that of universality,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said in a note published Sunday. “Fourteen different countries are represented, including some that do not currently have a cardinal, and some that have never had one.”
The pope also named five retired archbishops and bishops “distinguished for their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the church” to the College of Cardinals. Because they are over 80 years of age, they cannot take part in the secret conclave that elects popes. Including these five, the number of countries represented rises to 18, Father Lombardi said.
The new cardinals will formally be installed at a ceremony called a consistory on Feb. 14, Francis said, adding that he had convened the entire College of Cardinals ahead of the ceremony for a two-day reflection “on the orientations and proposals for the reform of the Roman Curia,” the Vatican’s administrative bureaucracy.
Reforming the curia has been a priority for Francis, who has established commissions to review both the Vatican’s finances and its inner workings.
The pope made his announcement on Sunday to tens of thousands of tourists and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly prayer and blessing.
With the addition of the 20 new cardinals, the College of Cardinals now numbers 228, including 103 who are over 80.
Last year, Francis named 19 cardinals, predominantly from countries in the Southern Hemisphere.