Cardinals Sistine ChapelPope Francis was not innovative in announcing his intention to create new cardinals on 22 February 2014. This is his first “class of cardinals” and if the Pope remains in office for the next several years he will be able to re-create the composition of the College in a very significant way with about 40 cardinals. Previous popes were expansive in many ways in how they composed the College.

The make up of the College of Cardinals is further internationalized with the number of Europeans and bishops from the USA being held steady, 5 new cardinals are from the “margins.” Most of the new men in the College are boilerplate in the sense that most got the honor because of the work they do in the Curia or in their respective churches. Surprises were Haiti, Cotabato, Burkina Faso and Dominica, but not Turin and Venice. Haiti’s cardinal is the first for that country as is Dominica in this hemisphere. Not so surprising is the Pope’s looking over the Archivist of the Roman Church, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, OP; there has been great tensions between the two since Bergogolio’s time in Argentina. Personally, I am happy to see a Cistercian prelate named cardinal (of Benedictine heritage)  and yet I was expecting for more Asians and Africans, but… the Pope did not create a woman cardinal as some in the media were desiring.

The Holy Father made the announcement today. Some notes about the new church princes:

  • The pope stayed with the norm of 120 under the age of 80 for voting purposes; 16 of the new cardinals are voting, 3 are over 80;
  • the age range goes from Archbishop Capovilla, 98, to the youngest, Bishop Langlois, 55; most fall in the late 60s and 70s;
  • the Archbishop of Cotabato is an unusual choice because Cotabato is not a “traditional” cardinalatial see; in some quarters the Archbishop of Cebu would be the more natural suspect for the red; the Cotabato archbishop comes from a small diocese which lives among a significant muslim area; another un-typical name is the archbishop of Perugia, Italy — though the last of his predecessors, Pecci, was a cardinal in the 19th cent., who later was Leo XIII;
  • there is no new cardinal from the USA; a good thing since we have plenty and have so until 2015;
  • 4 of the cardinals are members of the Roman Curia and 12 are residential archbishops or bishops:
  • 2 from Europe’s residential sees, 2 from North(Canada) and Central America (Nicaragua), 3 from South America, 2 from Africa, and 2 from Asia; interesting to see new cardinals coming from Burkina Faso, Dominica and Haiti;
  • among the non-electors is Archbishop Loris Capovilla, the secretary of Blessed Pope John XXIII;
  • the new “Franciscan College of Cardinal” will have 122 members: Europeans 59 (Italians 29), Latin Americans 19, North Americans 15, Africans 13, Asians 13, and Oceania 1.