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Mission of the New Cardinals

The profile of each of the 13 cardinals and their geographical origins reflect Pope Francis’ vision of a Church from the peripheries.

At the end of the Sunday Angelus address on the first day of September, Pope Francis announced that he will create 13 new cardinals on October 5 during a consistory at the Vatican, on the eve of the Synod on the Amazon. 

The new prelates are from Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, with North America having been left out. Ten of them are under the age of 80, and therefore, eligible to vote in a papal conclave, raising the number of cardinal-electors to 128.  

In the October consistory the majority of these cardinals will have been created by Francis shaping the college of cardinals in his image. Thus, it is expected a new pope will, in principle, be of a similar pastoral and theological line of the incumbent pope. 

In his announcement, Francis said that the new cardinals show “the missionary vocation of the Church that continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all men and women of the earth.” 

No doubt that the profile of each of the 13 cardinals and their geographical origins reflect Pope Francis’ vision of a Church from the peripheries, committed to the poor, caring for the migrants and refugees and dialoguing with other religions. 

One of the somehow surprising choices for some observers was that of Fr. Michael Czerny, a Jesuit.  Undersecretary of the Dicastery of Integral Development at the Vatican, with missionary experience in Africa and Latin America, he is aligned with Francis’ positions on migrants, the poor and global warming. 

I cannot but highlight the nomination of Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso, a Comboni missionary, for whom I feel delighted and honoured for belonging to the same missionary institute. President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and an expert in Islam, he worked in Egypt and Sudan. He will certainly feel enthused to pursue the patient labour of maintaining fraternal relationships with other religions, in particular, with Islam.   

Over the years, Pope Francis has been choosing his most trusted collaborators in line with his vision of the mission of the Church. Francis desires a Church that is like a “field hospital,” imbued with missionary zeal and more committed to the causes of justice and peace and dialogue with other religions. Obviously, the new cardinals echo this pastoral and ecclesial orientation. 

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