Pope appoints 21 new cardinals, marking the future of the Church


Pope Francis attends the inauguration of the ‘Laudato si’ school in Rome, Italy, May 19, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

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VATICAN CITY, May 29 (Reuters) – Pope Francis announced on Sunday that he would appoint 21 new cardinals in August, including an Italian to lead the Church in Mongolia, again stamping his mark on the future of Catholicism .

Of the 21, 16 are cardinal electors under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to enter the conclave to elect his successor after his death or resignation.

After the August 27 ceremony to officially install them, known as the consistory, Francis will have named about 83 of some 133 cardinal electors, raising the possibility that his successor will be a man who reflects his position on key issues.

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By then, Francis will have appointed about 63% of the cardinal electors, increased their presence in the developing world and loosened Europe’s grip on the College of Cardinals again.

New voters include Archbishop Giorgio Marengo, an Italian who is currently the administrator of the Catholic Church in Mongolia. The country borders China, where the Vatican is trying to improve the situation for Catholics.

The other cardinal electors come from France, Nigeria, Brazil, India, the United States, East Timor, Italy, Ghana, Singapore and Paraguay. Three Vatican officials who will be appointed cardinals in August come from South Korea, Britain and Spain.

Once again, Francis ignored archbishops in big cities who traditionally had cardinals before his election in 2013, preferring to appoint men in remote places where the Church is small or growing and more vibrant than in Europe.

By appointing cardinals in Singapore, Mongolia, India and East Timor, Francis appears to be seeking to increase the prestige and influence of the Church in Asia, a growing economic and political power.

New cardinals from other developing countries include the archbishops of Ekwulobia in Nigeria, Manaus and Brasilia in Brazil, Goa and Hyderabad in India, Wa in Ghana and Asuncion in Paraguay.

The promotion to cardinal of Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, California is significant because he has been an outspoken ally of Francis’ pastoral approach to issues such as environmental protection and a more welcoming approach to homosexual Catholics.

In making McElroy a cardinal, Francis ignored the conservative archbishops of San Francisco and Los Angeles, two major cities that traditionally had cardinals in the past.

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Reporting by Philip Pullella Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Mark Potter

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