Unsurprisingly, Ireland didn’t get a new cardinal when Pope Francis announced the latest clerics to be preferred at the weekend.
Nor did the Pope appoint a
female cardinal, despite confident predictions from people who should
know better that two middle class Irishwomen were poised to be appointed
to the College of Cardinals.
Ireland is unlikely to get a new red hat
until Cardinal Seán Brady turns 80 in 2019.
Pope Francis’ first biglietto of new cardinals represents a long-term
vision for change rather than a dramatic seismic shift.
There is a
decisive geographical shift towards Latin America, Africa and Asia, but,
the Pope has also shown himself to be a respecter of convention and
tradition by appointing four senior members of the Roman Curia to the
College of Cardinals.
Announced by the Pope in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, the 19 new
cardinals include 16 under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote
in a conclave.
Three cardinals over the age of 80 were also named,
including Blessed Pope John XXIII’s secretary, 98-year-old Archbishop
John Paul II
The appointment of Archbishop Capovilla sets the stage beautifully
for the canonisation of his mentor later this year along with Blessed
Pope John Paul II.
The appointment also signals a kind-of canonisation
of John XXIII’s vision of Church reform as articulated at Vatican II.
April’s double canonisation ceremony will be an opportunity for Pope
Francis to articulate his own vision of Vatican II undoubtedly trying to
steer a via media between the two extremes that, on the one hand, would
like to set Vatican II aside and, on the other hand, would try to use a
mythical ‘spirit’ of Vatican II to abandon the parts of Catholicism
that they find difficult.
Five of the 16 voting-age cardinals are residential bishops in Latin
or Central America, and four more are from Africa or Asia, places where
the Church is growing rapidly.
Francis continued the tradition of
appointing senior Vatican personnel with four members of the Roman Curia
getting a red hat.
In all, six of the 16 new cardinal-electors come
from Europe ensuring that the balance towards the developing world will
be gradual (Pope Francis will have the chance to appoint approximately
40 more new cardinals in the next five years).
As expected, the Pope’s new Secretary of State Pietro Parolin was
made a cardinal. As was the Pope Benedict-appointed head of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) Gerhard Müller.
the chagrin of commentators who want Pope Francis to emasculate the
CDF, the Argentine Pontiff confirmed Dr Müller as head of CDF and his
appointment as a cardinal is further confirmation of endorsement from
Dr Müller has been criticised by German prelates over his
stance on the non-admittance of divorced and remarried Catholics to Holy
Communion after Francis signalled that change may be on the way.
potential change not seems unlikely. It’s not really plausible that the
Pope would be at odds with his chief doctrinal adviser who he has just
appointed as a cardinal.
Interestingly, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of
the Synod of Bishops, will also become a cardinal.
This may well be a
signal that the Pope foresees a greater role for the body that has
struggled for relevance since it was established by Pope Paul VI.
year’s synod on the family will be a key test on whether or not the body
is fit for purpose.
Pope Francis has reminded the cardinals that one of their most
important duties will be to choose his successor.
In selecting future
cardinals in coming years he will, like his predecessors, play an
important role in shaping the thinking of the body that will one day
meet to replace him.