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South African archbishop included as Pope Francis puts stamp on church future with new cardinals

Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from his window, at the Vatican, July 9, 2023.
Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from his window, at the Vatican, July 9, 2023.
Image: Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters

Pope Francis on Sunday announced he would elevate 21 churchmen to the high rank of cardinal, again putting his mark on the group that will one day choose his successor after his death or resignation.

They include Archbishop of Cape Town Stephen Brislin.

The ceremony to install them, known as a consistory, will be held on September 30, the 86-year-old Francis announced during his noon prayer to pilgrims and tourists in St Peter's Square.

It will be the ninth consistory called by the pope since his election 10 years ago as the first pontiff from Latin America.

The new cardinals come from countries including the US, Italy, Argentina, Switzerland, South Africa, Spain, Colombia, South Sudan, Hong Kong, Poland, Malaysia, Tanzania, and Portugal.

Local connection:

Archbishop Stephen Brislin from Cape Town is among those named.

Eighteen of the 21 are under 80 and will be able to enter an eventual secret conclave to choose the next pope. They are known as cardinal electors.

After the September consistory, there will be 137 cardinal electors, about 73% of them chosen by Francis. This increases the possibility that the next pope will share his vision of a more progressive, inclusive church.

Francis has also increased the possibility that the next pope will come from Asia or Africa, having consistently named cardinal electors from those continents and giving less importance than his predecessor to countries in Europe.

Whether the pope will name even more cardinals depends on how long he lives.

Francis spent nine days in hospital after surgery for an abdominal hernia last month. His recovery is going well and he is due to visit Portugal from August 2 to 4 and Mongolia from August 31 to September 4.

The other three new cardinals, who are 80 or over and too old to vote in a conclave, were named to thank them for their long service to the church.

All cardinals, regardless of their age, are allowed to take part in pre-conclave meetings, known as General Congregations, giving them a say in the type of person they think the younger cardinals should choose.

Cardinals rank second only to the pope in the church hierarchy and serve as his closest advisers. Due to their historical power and influence, they are still called the princes of the church, though Francis has told them not to live like royalty and to be close to the poor.

Three of the new cardinals were recently named as heads of major Vatican departments, including Argentine Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, head of the Vatican's doctrinal department.

Another significant appointment was that of Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-Yan of Hong Kong. Chow is one of the major links to the Catholic Church in communist China, where the Vatican is trying to improve conditions for Catholics. The bishop visited Beijing in April.

Another is Archbishop Robert Francis Prevost, an American who was recently named head of the Vatican department that helps the pope choose new bishops, one of the most powerful posts in the Vatican. 

The following are set to become cardinals:

Cardinal Electors under 80

1 — Archbishop Robert Prevost, American, Vatican official, head of the Dicastery for Bishops 2 — Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Italian, Vatican official, head of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches 3 — Archbishop Víctor Fernández, Argentine, Vatican official, head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith 4 — Archbishop Emil Tscherrig, Swiss, Vatican ambassador to Italy 5 — Archbishop Christophe Pierre, French, Vatican ambassador to the US 6 — Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Italian, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem 7 — Archbishop Stephen Brislin, South African, Archbishop of Cape Town 8 — Archbishop Ángel Rossi, Argentine, Archbishop of Córdoba 9 — Archbishop Luis Aparicio, Colombian, Archbishop of Bogotá 10 — Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś, Polish, Archbishop of Lodz 11 — Archbishop Stephen Mulla, Sudanese, Archbishop of Juba, South Sudan 12 — Archbishop José Cano, Spanish, Archbishop of Madrid 13 — Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, Tanzanian, Archbishop of Tabora 14 — Bishop Sebastian Francis, Malaysian, Bishop of Penang 15 — Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-Yan, Bishop of Hong Kong 16 — Archbishop François-Xavier Bustillo, Spanish-French, Bishop of Ajaccio, Corsica. 17 — Bishop Américo Alves Aguiar, Portuguese, Auxiliary Bishop of Lisbon 18 — Father Ángel Fernández Artime, Spanish, head of the Salesian order

Over 80 and not eligible to enter a conclave

19 — Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Italian, former Vatican diplomat 20 — Archbishop Diego Padrón Sánchez, Venezuelan, Archbishop Emeritus of Cumaná. 21- Father Luis Dri, Argentine priest.

Reuters


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