After not having named any new American cardinals during his first two consistories in 2014 and 2015, Pope Francis has more than made up for it this time around, announcing a consistory for Nov. 19 and including Archbishops Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis, as well as former Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell.
Farrell was recently named by Francis as the first-ever head of his department for Family, Laity and Life.
The choices will be seen in the United States as significantly strengthening the moderate wing of the country’s hierarchy, as all three figures have at times been at odds with more conservative elements of the Church.
Cupich, 67, was appointed by Francis to Chicago in September 2014, in what many saw as a surprise move by the pontiff. He was also appointed by the pope to be a special delegate at his Synod of Bishops on the family, where Cupich appeared to align himself with the more progressive camp on issues such as pastoral care of the LGBT community and also divorced and remarried Catholics.
Tobin, 64, would be the surprise of this consistory crop.
A former superior of the world Redemptorist religious order, Tobin is also the former number two official at the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious, where he distinguished himself with a far more sympathetic line for U.S. women religious at a time when they were facing two separate Vatican investigations.
That irritated some other U.S. prelates who felt the reviews were justified, while Tobin continued to call for dialogue and understanding rather than a disciplinary approach.
Farrell, 69, was born in Ireland but has spent most of his life and career in the United States, most recently the last decade as the bishop of Dallas.
His appointment to his new Vatican post was also something of a surprise, but he appears to fit the mold of a pastoral, non-ideological figure desired by Pope Francis in senior leadership positions. Among other things, Farrell has said he wants to focus on the promotion of lay leadership in the Vatican in his new role.
Overall, Francis announced the creation of 17 new cardinals on Sunday, of whom 13 are under 80 and therefore eligible to vote for the next pope. The consistory itself is set for Sunday, Nov. 19, to coincide with the end of the jubilee Holy Year of Mercy.
Beyond Cupich, Tobin and Farrell, the other new cardinals are:
- Archbishop Mario Zenari, who remains the papal ambassador in what Pope Francis called “beloved and martyred Syria”
- Arcbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, C.S.Sp., of the Central African Republic
- Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid, Spain
- Archbishop Mons. Sérgio da Rocha of Brasilia, Brazil
- Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario, C.S.C., of Dhaka, Bangladesh
- Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Mérida, Venezuela
- Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Malines-Bruxelles, Belgium
- Archbishop Maurice Piat, Port-Louis, Mauritius
- Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico
- Archbishop John Ribat, M.S.C., Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
The honorary new cardinals are:
- Emeritus Archbishop Anthony SoterFernandez of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Emeritus Archbishop Renato Corti of Novara, Italy
- Emeritus Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai, O.M.I, Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho
- Father Ernest Simoni, Priest of the Archdiocese of Shkodrë-Pult in Albania