Today in Rome, Pope Francis announced 17 new cardinals from 11 different countries; 13 are eligible to vote for the next pope. Another action to steer the ship of the Catholic Church toward the “southern cross.” Most Catholics live in the majority world. Francis aims for the college of cardinals to reflect that orientation.
According to Josh McElwee in the National Catholic Reporter, “November’s consistory will be Francis’ third, following his creation of 20 cardinals in February 2015 and 19 in February 2014. After the upcoming consistory, Francis will have named 44 of 123 cardinals able to vote in a papal conclave.”
Below is an excerpt from a 2014 article I wrote for Sojourners on the tremendous shift Pope Francis is bringing to the college of cardinals.
There’s a new sheriff in town: Pope Francis wants deputies, not darlings.
“The cardinalship does not imply promotion,” the pope wrote in a personal letter to his fresh picks; “it is neither an honor nor a decoration; it is simply a service that requires you to broaden your gaze and open your hearts.”
Until now , the influential college was dominated by the Northern minority, from Europe and North America; only about 25 percent were from the global South. This made sense in 1910, when France and Italy had the highest population of Catholics. Now, Brazil and Mexico top the list—and Catholicism’s growing center is in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If not for the church’s historical connection to Rome, the Vatican might relocate to Rio de Janeiro or Lagos!
Ten of the 19 cardinals Francis chose are from the majority world—including three from the poorest countries: Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Haiti. Like Quevedo, they are pastors rather than administrators, “shepherds who have the smell of their sheep.” Francis is putting the poorest at the center, steering the way toward a Southern majority…. –Rose Marie Berger
Read the rest of A Shift in Priorities?