Pope Announces Appointment of 15 New Cardinal Electors

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
5 Jan 2015

Pope Francis names 15 new Cardinals including two from Oceania

The Archbishop of Wellington, the Most Rev John Dew is among the 15 new Cardinals announced by Pope Francis yesterday.

He will become the fourth New Zealander prelate to be elevated to the College of Cardinals and the first to be named a Cardinal in more than 30 years.

"This news is recognition of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and the contribution it makes to the global Catholic family," New Zealand's Cardinal Designate said in a statement this morning.

The New Zealand prelate is well known for his calls for an increased role for women in the Church and better representation in what he calls the patriarchal structure of the Church, and believes "we still have a long way to go."

Unafraid of controversy, he also created a stir in 2005 at the Bishops' Synod on the Eucharist at the Vatican when he advocated that divorced and remarried Catholics be able to receive the Eucharist, saying that bishops had a "pastoral duty and an obligation before God to discuss and debate the question."

New Zealand's Cardinal Designate John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington

"Our Church would be enriched if we were able to invite dedicated Catholics, currently excluded from the Eucharist, to return to the Lord's Table," he said.

Cardinal-designate Dew is also delighted that another prelate from Oceania has been appointed  to the College of Cardinal Electors.

"Although we are geographically far from much of the world, Pope Francis has gone to the periphery of the world to name new cardinals," he said, adding that he was especially delighted to hear that Bishop Soane Mafi of Tonga is one of the 15 bishops and archbishops selected by the Holy Father.

"This is not only great news for Tonga and New Zealand but for the Oceania region," he said.

Cardinal Designate, the Most Rev Soane Mafi, Bishop of Tonga

Bishop Mafi will make history not only as Tonga's first-ever Cardinal but at age 54 he will also be the youngest member of the College of Cardinal Electors.

Of the 15 Cardinal-Electors named by Pope Francis, yesterday New Zealand's Cardinal-designate Dew is the only English language speaker among them.

For the Pontiff, the new group of Cardinals shows "the inseparable tie with the Church of Rome to churches across the world." The group is also a reflection of the diversity of the Church and in particular, the growth of the Church in areas such as Asia and Africa.

It is also worth noting that not one of the new Cardinals named by the Pontiff are from the US or Canada which as Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi pointed out already have a "sizeable number" of Cardinal-Electors.

Along with Tonga, two other Cardinals named by Pope Francis yesterday will become the first-ever appointed from dioceses in Burma, now known as Myanmar, and Africa's archipelago, Capo Verde.

Archbishop of Wellington the Most Rev John Dew one of 15 new Cardinals announced by Pope Francis

Among the 15 new Cardinals, five are from Europe, three from Asia, three from Latin America, two from Africa and two from Oceania.

The two new Cardinal electors from Africa are from Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia and Capo Verde's Santiago de Cabo Verde. The three new Cardinals from Asia are from dioceses in Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar while those from South America minister to the faithful in Mexico, Panama and Uruguay.

In a break with tradition the only prelate to be elevated to Cardinal from within the Curia is Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

Appointed to this important role by Pope Francis late last year, Cardinal Designate Mamberti is the Vatican's former Secretary for Relations with States at the Vatican, the equivalent of Foreign Minister for the Holy See. It was in this position that the (then) Archbishop visited Australia in November last year to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Australia, and the centenary of the first Apostolic Delegation to Australasia.

Cardinal Designate Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

In addition to the appointment of the 15 Cardinal Electors who each have the right to vote at the next conclave, Pope Francis also gave the red hat to five retired archbishops and bishops. All over the age of 80, they were honoured for "their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and the Church."

Well past retirement age, the five who include one from the Pope's native Argentina, as well as one each from Mozambique and Colombia, have no voting rights.

Prior to yesterday's announcement there were 10 vacancies at the College of Cardinal Electors, which according to the norms set by Pope Paul VI and approved by his successors should have a total of 120 members.

Pope Francis has decided to exceed this number by five bringing the College of Cardinal Electors to 125.

"As was already announced, on 14 February next I will have the joy of holding a Concistory during which I will name 15 new Cardinals who coming from 14 countries from every continent, manifest the indissoluble links between the Church of Rome and the particular Churches present in the world.

"On 15 February, I will preside at a solemn concelebration with the new Cardinals while on 12 and 13 February next I will hold a Consistory with all the Cardinals to reflect on the orientations and proposals for the reform of the Roman Curia," he told the crowd gathered in St Peter's Square yesterday.