Red cardinal's hats

Francis names new cardinals close to his heart on poor, migrants, democracy, LGBT

Pope Francis named 13 new cardinals in a surprise move on Sunday, including prelates from Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Italy and Lithuania.

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At the end of the Angelus prayer with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, Francis said the provenance of the new cardinals – the highest rank in the Church, directly below the Pope – “expresses the missionary vocation of the Church to continue to announce the merciful love of God to all men on Earth”.

The names of the new cardinals are:

  • Archbishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot (Spain), prefect of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue;
  • Archbishop José Tolentino Mendonca (Portugal), librarian of the Holy Roman Church;
  • Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta (Indonesia);
  • Archbishop Juan de la Caridad Garcia Rodriguez of Havana (Cuba);
  • Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo);
  • Archbishop Jean Claude Hollerich (Luxembourg);
  • Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of Huehuetenango (Guatemala);
  • Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna (Italy);
  • Archbishop Cristobal Lopez Romero of Rabat, Morocco (born in Spain);
  • Father Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (Czech/Canadian)

In addition to these ten men – who are each under 80, and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave for the Pope’s successor – Francis also named as cardinals three men over retirement age whom he said “have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church”:

  • Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, emeritus of Nepte, Tunisia, a former president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (born in the United Kingdom);
  • Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius, emeritus of Kaunas (Lithuania); and
  • Bishop Eugenio Dal Corso, emeritus of Benguela, Angola.

After reading the names, the Pope asked for prayers for the cardinals to be, “so that, confirming their adhesion to Christ, they may help me in my ministry as Bishop of Rome for the good of the whole faithful Holy People of God”.

The new cardinals will receive the red cardinal hat and ring in a ceremony in Rome October 5.

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With yesterday’s new crop of cardinals, Francis reinforced several themes that have been central to his pontificate: care for the poor, aid to migrants and interfaith dialogue.

On a European level, the honour represents strong support for the work of Ayuso, Tolentino Mendonca, Hollerich, Zuppi, Lopez, Tamkevicius and Dal Corso.

Ayuso, for example, has the Vatican pointman for the promotion of the joint declaration the Pope signed in February this year with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque and University in Cairo, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb: the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.

Hollerich, meanwhile, has been responsible for a fruitful dialogue with the authorities of the European Union since taking over as Commission of the Episcopates of the European Union (COMECE) president in March 2018.

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Perhaps most notably, the Luxembourgish prelate railed just before last May’s European elections against former Trump official Steve Bannon and Russian rightwing socialist Aleksandr Dugin, calling them “priests of populism”.

Hollerich added that anti-migrant, ultranationalist populisms – which he called “gateways for new totalitarianisms” – “evoke a false pseudo-religious and pseudo-mystical world, denying the heart of western theology, which is God’s love and love of neighbor”.

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For his part, and before becoming Archbishop of Bologna in 2015, Zuppi was heavily involved in the Roman basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, noted for opening its doors on cold winter nights to drug addicts, gypsies and the homeless.

The basilica is also the headquarters of the Sant’Egidio movement, known for its “humanitarian corridors” for migrants and refugees seeking to reach Europe and for its practical and logistical assistance to new arrivals on the ground.

Zuppi also distinguished himself in the preface he wrote in 2018 for American Jesuit James Martin’s LGBT Catholic outreach book Building a Bridge, in which the Italian prelate called the Church to a “new pastoral attitude” with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics that would embrace “dialogue” and “reciprocal knowledge and understanding”.

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