by Ethan Mack
Earlier this month, Pope Francis made his first addition to the College of Cardinals. Nineteen bishops from all around the world were chosen by the Pontiff to receive the “red hat” and join the body that has elected the Pope for centuries. In addition to their formal role at the conclave, Cardinals have historically acted as advisors to the Holy Father.
The selections reflect a statement Pope Francis made early in his pontificate, “I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor”. Many of the soon to be Cardinals come from impoverished nations, such as Haiti and Burkina Faso. Elevating bishops from such poor dioceses to become “princes of the Church”, is a clear step toward the continuous building of a ‘Poor Church.’
Pope Francis’ selections also highlight another theme of his papacy, which is lessening the role of the Roman Curia. Pope Francis has stated several times that he desires a more decentralized Church with a Curia aimed at serving the world and not the other way around. In his recent selections, the Pope selected only four bishops from the Curia as opposed to fifteen from dioceses around the world.
Three of the new Cardinals are above the age of 80, which means that they will not be permitted to participate in any future conclave. Such selections are generally done in order to recognize one’s life-long service to the Church. Soon-to-be Saint John Paul II did this for many of the theologians who were vital to the work of the Second Vatican Council, including Hans urs von Balthazar and Yves Congar. Among the three that Pope Francis recently gave this honor was Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla, who was Pope John XXIII’s personal secretary.
A list of the newly selected Cardinals follows below: