With his new picks for red hats, Pope Francis is working to correct the Eurocentric bias in the College of Cardinals.

– New picks for ‘prince of the Church’ from Rwanda, the US, Chile, Italy, Mexico, Brunei, Philippines and the Vatican

The afternoon of this Saturday November 28, Pope Francis will raise to the dignity of cardinal a total of eleven men from Rwanda, the United States, Chile, Italy, Mexico and the Vatican.

Two of the new cardinals the Pope announced in his Sunday Angelus last October 25 – from Brunei and the Philippines – have been prevented from coming to Rome this time by the coronavirus travel restrictions.

The men who have been named cardinals in the consistory this year are the following:

  • Bishop Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops;
  • Bishop Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints;
  • Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda;
  • Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington;
  • Archbishop José Advincula of Capiz, Philippines (not attending Saturday);
  • Archbishop Celestino Aós Braco of Santiago de Chile;
  • Bishop Cornelius Sim, titular Bishop of Puzia di Numidia and Vicar Apostolic of Brunei, Kuala Lumpur (not attending Saturday);
  • Archbishop Augusto Paolo Lojudice of Siena-Colle Val d’Elsa-Montalcino;
  • Bishop Mauro Gambetti, Conventual Franciscan, Custodian of the Sacred Convent of Assisi;
  • Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, Bishop Emeritus of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico;
  • Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, titular Archbishop of Asolo, Apostolic Nuncio;
  • Fra Raniero Cantalamessa, Capuchin, Preacher of the Papal Household;
  • Msgr Enrico Feroci, parish priest of Holy Mary of the Divine Love in Castel di Leva.

– Europeans make up 42% of cardinals eligible to vote for next Pope, down from 52% in 2013

Cardinals-designate Grech, Semeraro, Kambanda, Gregory, Advincula, Aós, Sim, Lojudice and Gambetti are all eligible to vote in the conclave to elect Pope Francis’ successor, as they are all under the age of 80 that Arizmendi, Tomasi, Cantalamessa and Feroci surpass.

And the fact of the new electors’ diversity is significant, since after this Saturday the College of Cardinals will have 128 voting members of whom just 42% are European, a percentage that has dropped from 52% in 2013.

As the Pew Research Center recalled, since 2014 and including the new appointments for this Saturday Pope Francis has named a total of 73 voting cardinals.

The geographical make-up of those voting cardinals named by Pope Francis works out as follows:

  • Europe: 28 (38%)
  • North America: 5 (7%)
  • Asia-Pacific: 13 (18%)
  • Latin America-Caribbean: 15 (21%)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: 10 (14%)
  • Middle East-North Africa: 2 (3%)

Notable increases in cardinals’ geographic places of origin under Pope Francis have occurred in the Asia-Pacific region – up from 9% of the total electoral body in 2013 to 15% in 2020 – and in sub-Saharan Africa, up from 9% to 13% over the same time period.

– Francis must make more cardinals from Latin America to better reflect make-up of universal Church

Though Pope Francis is gradually tilting the centre of power in the Church as represented by the College of Cardinals away from Europe, he still has some work to do in balancing out the body in terms of the composition of global Catholicism, as Pew recalled.

% of cardinals (2013)% of cardinals (2020)% of global Catholic population (2010)
North America1298
Latin America-Caribbean171939
Sub-Saharan Africa91316
Middle East-North Africa221

As can be seen from the above table drawn up using Pew data, there are still “too many” cardinals from Europe compared to the continent’s share of the global Catholic population, even if Pope Francis is gradually bringing their number into proportion.

In terms of strict numerical “justice”, the pontiff must continue his trend of naming more cardinals in Latin America and the Caribbean, since that is the zone in which the largest share of the world’s Catholics reside.

On Novena, more stories on this Saturday’s consistory:

Get to know the new red hats: Pope names 13 new cardinals, announces consistory for November 28

Cardinal-designate Cornelius Sim: “Jesus’ way of acting is from person to person, being small with the little ones”

Cardinal-elect Lojudice: “All I have ever done is always take the side of the weak”

Cardinal-elect Cantalamessa renounces ordination as bishop to continue being a “simple priest” allowed “to die in my Franciscan habit”

Analysis by Novena US contributor Matt KappadakunnelBy naming Wilton Gregory a cardinal, the Pope is sending a powerful message that Black Lives Matter


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.