Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
13 Jan 2014
Pope Francis is to appoint 19 new cardinals next month including many churchmen from Asia and Africa as well as poor countries like Haiti and Burkina Faso.
The shift from appointing cardinals from predominantly Western countries reflects both the Catholic world's changing demographics and Pope Francis' emphasis on the pastoral mission of the Church, to put the world's poor at the core of the Church's mission.
A consistory, or the ceremony to elevate the new cardinals, will be held at the Vatican on 22 February.
The principal role of a cardinal is to elect a Pope when the previous one dies or retires. However they also act as advisers.
Three of the cardinals to be appointed are over 80 and therefore ineligible to vote at the next conclave however they will assume the title cardinal ermeritus as a sign of gratitude for their work for the Catholic Church. They come from Spain, Italy and the Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia.
The new cardinal electors are aged from 55 to 74. They include from Latin America Archbishop Aurelio Poli,66, and the Pope's successor in the Argentine capitol, and also the archbishops of Managua in Nicaragua, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Santiago in Chile.
Two are from Africa - the archbishops of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and Abidjan in Ivory Coast. From Asia are the archbishops of Seoul in South Korea and Cotabato in the Philippines.
Archbishop Chibly Langlois, 55, is from Les Cayes in Haiti, considered the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, where according to the World Bank some 80 percent of the rural population lives in abject poverty.
The Philippines, Nicaragua, Ivory Coast and Brazil also have high rates of poverty.
Only four of those to be made cardinal are Vatican officials which includes the Pope's new secretary of State, 58-year old Italian Archbishop Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Gerhard Mueller,66, the German head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation.
The most prominent European, outside of Italy, to be given the red hat of a cardinal is Archbishop Vincent Nichols, 68, the Archbishop of Westminster in London, the most senior Catholic in England and Wales and the main link between Catholicism and the Anglican Church. The teenager who wanted to be a lorry driver was in fact ordained a priest in 1969 and went on to become at 46 the youngest bishop in the UK. He has been Archbishop of Westminster for nine years and has strong views on social justice, no doubt something which would be favourably looked upon by Pope Francis.
Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Catabato will become the first cardinal of Mindanao in the Philippines, which has endured one of the world's longest running Muslim insurgencies.
In the Philippines predominantly Catholic country, Archbishop Quevedo's territory is the least populated by Catholics. He is known to speak constantly of peace, justice and morality and will be considered a great counsel in Rome in understanding Islam on the ground and inter-religious dialogue. He has been called the "architect of Asian pastoral churches".
Quebec Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix is also among those to be given the red hat. The 56-year old will be the second youngest cardinal. He is also has strong views on poverty and social justice having worked for more than a decade in Colombia following his ordination.
For the few who expected Pope Francis to nominate a woman cardinal there is disappointment; for the many no surpirises.