ROME — With his picks for new cardinals announced on Sunday, Pope Francis continued his campaign to reach out to the peripheries. The pontiff bypassed traditional centers of power and awarded red hats to such typically overlooked locales as Panama, Thailand, Cape Verde, New Zealand, and the Pacific island of Tonga.
For the second time, there were no new cardinals from the United States on the list announced by Francis. There were also no Americans in the first crop of cardinals named by Francis in February 2014.
While geography seemed the determining factor in these picks for Pope Francis, who at times struggled even pronouncing the names of his new cardinals, it’s noteworthy that the list includes a couple of high-profile moderates but no one with a clear reputation as a doctrinal or political conservative.
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 Blázquez Pérez is president of the Spanish bishops’ conference and generally seen as a moderate opposed to the harder line of former Madrid Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela.
In all, Francis announced that he will induct the 15 new members into the College of Cardinals during a consistory ceremony to be held in Rome Feb. 14-15, pushing the total number of cardinal electors slightly past the limit of 120 established by Pope Paul VI.
At the moment, there are 110 cardinals under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pope. After the February consistory, that number will rise to 125, with 31 of them having been named by Pope Francis.
The pope also named five “honorary” cardinals, meaning those already over 80 and therefore unable to vote in a papal election. Those nominations are generally made as a recognition of service to the Church.
In his first consistory last year, Francis demonstrated a preference for naming cardinals in countries that haven’t typically had them. In countries accustomed to having princes of the Church, Francis tended to skip the usual major archdioceses and name cardinals from smaller settings.
That pattern was clearly evident again in the nominations announced Sunday.
There was only one Vatican official in the mix, French Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, who formerly served as the Vatican’s foreign minister and now holds the top position at the Vatican’s Supreme Court vacated by American Cardinal Raymond Burke.
Here is the complete list of appointments:
- Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, Vatican City
- Patriarch Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente of Lisbon, Portugal
- Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of Wellington, New Zealand
- Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli of Ancona-Osimo, Italy
- Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Văn Nhon of Hà Nôi, Vietnam
- Archbishop Alberto Suárez Inda of Morelia, Mexico
- Archbishop Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar
- Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok, Thailand
- Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento, Italy
- Archbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet of Montevideo, Uruguay
- Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Valladolid, Spain
- Archbishop José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán of David, Panama
- Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado of Santiago de Cabo Verde, Cape Verde
- Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi of the Island of Tonga
The five honorary appointments announced by Francis were:
- Archbishop José de Jesús Pimiento Rodríguez, retired from Manizales, Colombia
- Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, former head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary
- Archbishop Karl-Joseph Rauber, a retired papal ambassador
- Archbishop Luis Héctor Villalba, retired from Tucumán, Argentina
- Bishop Júlio Duarte Langa, retired from Xai-Xai, Mozambique
The omission of any picks from the United States was not terribly surprising, given Francis’ preferences and the fact that the US, with 18 cardinals, still remains the second largest national bloc in the College of Cardinals after the Italians.
There were, however, three American prelates seen as possible picks this time. They are Archbishop Jose Gomez from Los Angeles, who would have become America’s first Hispanic cardinal; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who will host Pope Francis in September for a Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families, and Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, Francis’ pick to succeed the influential Cardinal Francis George, who retired and is battling cancer.