Pope Francis has announced 13 new cardinals, 10 of them under 80 and so able to vote for his eventual successor. In his unexpected announcement following the Angelus on Sunday, the Pope said that his choices expressed “the missionary vocation of the Church that continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all men and women of the earth”.
The picks generated a predictably polarised response, with many praising them, while some deplored their alleged liberalism.
What the Catholic media are saying
The Tablet wrote favourably: “His cardinal picks on Sunday reflected his priority for dialogue with other religions, particularly Islam, a concern for migrants and a field hospital Church which looks outside of the old centres of ecclesial power and to the margins.” This referred especially to two surprise choices: retired English Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, one of the Church’s foremost experts on Islam, whom Pope Benedict XVI allegedly sidelined to Egypt in 2006; and Jesuit priest Fr Michael Czerny, under-secretary of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, who oversees the Church’s response to migrants and refugees.
Meanwhile, John Allen at Crux commented: “This is a consistory in which Francis is elevating a cohort of like-minded churchmen, positioning them to help advance his agenda right now and also to help ensure that the next pope, whoever it may be, isn’t someone inclined to roll back the clock.
“Francis will come out of this consistory in a stronger position to lead – and whether that’s good news or bad, naturally, will depend on whether a given Catholic happens to like the direction he’s heading.”
Other writers criticised the new cardinals. The website Rorate Caeli declared that “They are, without a doubt, the most liberal group of cardinal-electors ever assembled.”
The blogger Fr John Zuhlsdorf described the choices as “atomising”. “The last few consistories point to the possibility that Francis is trying purposely to atomise the College [of Cardinals],” he wrote.
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