The director of the Vatican press office has said that a number of the new cardinals selected by Pope Francis will represent Catholics who make up minorities in their countries.
Reflecting on the Pope’s choice of new cardinals, Fr Federico Lombardi said: “Fourteen different countries are represented, including some that do not currently have a Cardinal, and some that have never had one. If the retired Archbishops and Bishops are counted, eighteen countries are represented. There are no new Cardinals from North America (the USA or Canada) because they already have a significant number, and that number has remained stable during the past year. (There is a new Mexican Cardinal).
“The presence of countries that have never had a Cardinal (Capo Verde, Tonga, Myanmar) is noteworthy. These countries have ecclesial communities that are small or that represent a minority within their country. (The Bishop of Tonga is the President of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific; the Diocese of Santiago de Cabo Verde is one of the most ancient African Dioceses; the Diocese of Morelia in Mexico is in a region troubled by violence.)”
Fr Lombardi also said that that it is noteworthy that only one of the twenty prelates chosen by the Pope to be a cardinal is from the Roman Curia. He said: “The fact that only one of the new cardinals is from the Roman Curia is also notable…while ‘Roman’ cardinals remain about a quarter of the electors. It is evident that the Pope intends to consider the posts of Prefects of the Congregations and of some other very important institutions within the Curia – as, in this case, the Tribunal of the Signatura – as Cardinalatial posts.”
Among the Popes appointments is Archbishop Tafi of Tonga who was born in 1961 making him the youngest member of the college.
John Allen of cruxnow.com said that Francis was reaching “out to the margins” and bypassing “traditional centres of power.”
Allen highlighted that for the second time, Pope Francis had not nominated any Americans for the college of cardinals and that among them were “high-profile moderates.” He said: “Archbishop John Atcherley Dew from New Zealand for instance, argued for allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion at a 2005 Vatican synod of bishops. Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez is president of the Spanish bishops’ conference and generally seen as a moderate opposed to the harder line of Madrid Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela.”
Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia said Francis’s periphery choices were “a shock to the system” which represents Francis’s desire to “shake up” the Church.