Pope Francis’ first batch of Cardinals: A First Look

[UPDATE 14 January 2014]:  Click here for further analysis of Francis first cardinalatial picks.

Shortly after noon on 21 January 2014, the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, Pope Francis announced in his Angelus address the words long expected since 30 October of last year.

…avrò la gioia di tenere un concistoro… “…I shall have the joy of holding a consistory…”

19 men from 14 countries will receive the red biretta from the hands of the Pope on 22 February next, the Feast of the Chair of Peter.  16 of them are under the age of 80 and thus have the right to vote in conclave until they reach the age limit.  The other 3 non-voting Cardinals are archbishops-emeriti who, as the Pope said, si sono distinti per il loro servizio alla Santa Sede e alla Chiesa — distinguished themselves by their service to the Holy See and the Church..  Further commentary on what this consistory means for the universal Church will come in a future post; for now, we present brief synopses of each of the neo-porporati, in order of the precedence granted by the Pope.

First, let’s look at the new Cardinal electors:

1.  Pietro Parolin, Papal Secretary of State (Italy)
As the Pope’s first collaborator, it is expected that the Secretary of State either already be a Cardinal at the time of his appointment, or given the porpora in the next consistory.  A veteran of the Holy See diplomatic service, his last assignment was as Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela– a tough assignment given to him by Benedict XVI, given the authoritarian machinations of a certain Hugo Chavez.  This was preceded by a stint as Undersecretary for Relations with States–essentially the Holy See’s “foreign minister”, working directly for the Secretary of State, who at that time was a certain Angelo Sodano, today Dean of the College of Cardinals.

2.  Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops (Italy)
Another well-seasoned diplomat and another man expected to receive the red hat. Archbishop Baldisseri has served as Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Paraguay, India, Nepal, and Brazil, boasting an impressive record of service for the Holy See.  Because of his vast experience of the Church across the globe, Benedict XVI appointed him Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, to assist Marc Cardinal Ouellet in appointing the world’s bishops.  This post has a special perk–the Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops is ex-officio Secretary of the College of Cardinals and therefore Secretary of the Conclave, should one arise.  (And arise one did!)  He was thus one of the few non-cardinals allowed in the Sistine Chapel during the election.  There is an old tradition–though only done once in the previous ten conclaves (by John XXIII)–that upon accepting his election and choosing a regnal name, the new pope should place his red zucchetto on the conclave secretary’s head.  Papa Bergoglio consented to the custom, and Baldisseri wore it proudly all the following day.  Today, as Secretary-General of the Synod, he has the delicate task of coordinating the discussions of the world’s bishops as they are convoked by the Pope every few years to discuss matters relating to the global Church.

3.  Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Archbishop (personal title) and Bishop-emeritus of Regensburg, now Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Germany) 
This man is a protegé of Benedict XVI.  One of the many bishops with serious theological clout appointed by Benedict, he once held the Chair in Dogmatic Theology at the University of Regensburg, a post once held by Ratzinger himself.  While Bishop of Regensburg, he was also tasked with editing Joseph Ratzinger’s Opera Omnia, a project that continues slowly but surely.  Today, he holds another post held by his mentor: Prefect of the CDF, charged with defending and clarifying the Catholic faith.  Though Müller shares much affinity with Pope Benedict’s theological thought, he is much less critical of Liberation Theology, having studied under that school’s “father”, Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, OP.

4.  Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (Italy)
Career diplomat number 3 on our list.  Ordained priest in 1966 by then-Bishop of Treviso Albino Luciani (who, of course, went on to bigger things), he entered the diplomatic service in 1970, received episcopal consecration from John Paul II in 1987, and subsequently served as Nuncio to the Congo, then to Cuba, then to Colombia.  In 2007, he was tapped by Benedict XVI to be President of the Accademia Ecclesiastica Pontificia (Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, colloquially called simply l’Accademia).  This is the Holy See’s foreign service academy, the oldest continually running school of diplomacy in the world.  As head of the Accademia, Stella oversaw the educational and professional development of intelligent, young priests who are given up by their respective bishops to serve in the Holy See’s diplomatic service.  (To name a few illustrious alumni: Clement XIII, Leo XII, Leo XIII, Benedict XV, and Paul VI).  Pope Francis recently replaced Cardinal Piacenza, a loyal Ratzingerian, with Stella as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

5.  Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Archbishop of Managua (Nicaragua)
Another unsurprising appointment.  Managua, for 35 years guided by Cardinal Obando y Bravo, has continued to grow in population and influence in Latin America.  Solorzano is an apt choice to help raise Latin America’s proportion in the Sacred College.  Morally upright, unpretentious, unassuming, yet firm in conviction and immersed in popular piety, he strongly resembles the Pope who appointed him.

6.  Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec (Canada)
Marc Ouellet’s successor in Canada’s primatial see, Lacroix is another man of Pope Benedict’s mold.  Like his predecessor, the Quebecois is a member of a secular institute of apostolic life (Lacroix a member of the Institute Seculier Pie X (ISPX), not to be confused with the SSPX; Ouellet is a Sulpician).  Both held various administrative and educational positions in their respective institutes before rising to the episcopacy.  Lacroix was consecrated by Ouellet’s hand as an auxiliary of Quebec, before succeeding as metropolitan when Ratzinger called his longtime Communio collaborator to head the Congregation for Bishops.  Lacroix is surely a symbol of continuity for Quebec.

7.  Jean-Pierre Kutwa, Archbishop of Abidjan (Ivory Coast)
In recent decades, Abdijan has become a cardinalatial see, though its archbishops have had to wait quite a while (8 years!) after becoming Archbishop to get the red hat.   In any case, Kutwa may not have been on many speculative short lists, but neither is his elevation to cardinal shocking.  Having come to the brink of civil war in 2013, Ivory Coast’s new cardinal might be Pope Francis’ choice as a point of reference for peace and stability in that nation, rather than the local nunciature.

8.  Vincent Nichols, Archbishop  of Westminster (United Kingdom)
For all Pope Francis’ talk against ecclesiastical careerism, Vincent Nichols’ rise to the Sacred College seems to undermine it.  It is a sort of open secret in the English ecclesiastical hierarchy that Nichols indirectly and discreetly lobbied for himself to succeed Cardinal Hume at Westminster in 1999-2000.  Instead he went to Birmingham.  After distancing himself from the progressive wing of the English church and slowly molding his agenda to fit that of Pope Benedict’s (though still with some significant dissonances), Nichols finally got Westminster when Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor retired in 2009.  Note: he was skipped over for the red hat by Benedict in November 2012, when Murphy-O’Connor had already lost voting rights.

9.  Orani João Tempesta, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
During the recent World Youth Day events in Rio overseen and coordinated by Archbishop Tempesta, he was often seen at the Pope’s side, sharing with him a warmth and cordiality that surely indicated future collaborations beyond WYD.  His predecessor Cardinal Scheid having turned 80 just after Benedict’s final consistory, Tempesta was always one of the first in queue for a red hat in Francis’ pontificate.

10.  Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve (Italy) 
Perugia has intermittently produced cardinals, the most recent being Pietro Parente, and the most eminent being Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci, later Leo XIII.  A true pastor con l’odore del pecore in the mold of Francis and a fierce defender of the sacred liturgy like Benedict, Bassetti combines the best of the two popes.  After 15 years as a bishop in his native Tuscany (first in Massa Marittima, then Arezzo), Benedict then sent him into Umbria, the province of St. Francis, as Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve.  His pastoral warmth and his public celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass are sure to make him one of the more agreeable and appealing new cardinals to a wide spectrum of the Church.

11.  Mario Aurelio Poli, Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Yet another expected appointment: Papa Bergoglio would surely not deprive Buenos Aires of the red hat for very long.  A loyal son of the current pope, his loyalty is now repaid.  Expect him to be vociferous in the fight against same-sex marriage in Argentina.

12.  Andrew Yeom Soo Jung, Archbishop of Seoul (Korea)
Seoul’s status as a premier Asian see has been well established, evidenced by its numerous archbishops named cardinals.  A former seminary president, diocesan chancellor, moderator curiae, and parish pastor, Cardinal Cheong’s successor has all the administrative experience required to lead one of the largest dioceses in the world.  Archbishop Andrew Yeom is one of the most vigorous defenders of the Church’s doctrine on life issues.  As concurrent Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, he is keenly aware of tensions from the North and is one of the most vocal proponents of both Korean unification and religious liberty.

13.  Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, Archbishop of Santiago (Chile)
Santiago de Chile is an enduring cardinalatial diocese, with a booming population and a perennial Catholic identity.  Thus in 2010 Benedict XVI appointed a man of long pastoral experience, with tenures as Bishop of Valdivia and Archbishop of Concepcion, to succeed Cardinal Errazuriz Ossa.  He has further shown pastoral ability as one of the prelates appointed by Benedict to investigate the Legion of Christ, with responsibility for scrutinizing the Legion’s work in South America.  At 71, this latecomer to the Sacred College was skipped over in both 2012 consistories because, by custom, popes avoid the occurrence of two living cardinal-electors from the same diocese; his predecessor Errazuriz Ossa turned 80 only this past September.

14.  Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)
Though not the first Archbishop of Ouagadougou to wear the red hat (he will be the second), Ouédraogo’s appointment was quite unexpected.  Having earned a licentiate and doctorate in Canon Law from the Urbaniana in Rome, he has utilized his education as a member of the regional ecclesiastical tribunal in Burkina Faso, as vicar general of the diocese of Kaya, and as a director of a seminary.  Ouédraogo does not shy away from public debate, at times criticizing government corruption and advocating for a more equitable distribution of profits for the poor and disadvantaged.

15.  Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato (Philippines)
At the consistorial ceremony, the pope traditionally admonishes new cardinals to remember why they wear red: they must stand ready to guard the faith usque ad mortem et sanguinis effusionem, and to nobody in Francis’ first consistory does this apply more than the Archbishop of Cotabato.  Located in the heart of the southern island of Mindanao, North Cotabato is a strongly Catholic enclave in the midst of a Muslim-majority area.  Rocked by violence at the hands of jihadist groups in recent years, Cardinal-elect Quevedo’s archdiocese of only 24 parishes can take heart that the Pope hears their plight as well.  Quevedo is one of the pure surprises among the red hat recipients, given that the Pope bypassed the larger and more prestigious see of Cebu, whose emeriti include the mighty cardinals Rosales and Vidal.  Not to mention, Quevado is 74.

16.  Chibly Langlois, Bishop of Les Cayes (Haiti)
A real surprise: not even a metropolitan archbishop, he will become Haiti’s first cardinal.  A bishop in one of the poorest countries in the world, his consistent defense of Haiti’s weakest has earned Pope Francis’ recognition.  Consecrated bishop of Fort-Liberté in 2004 at the tenderly young age of 45, he was moved to the larger see of Les Cayes in 2011 by Benedict XVI.  With decades of life ahead of him, Langlois will almost certainly succeed Guire Poulard as Archbishop of Port-au-Prince when the latter reaches retirement age in three years.

Now we proceed to the three non-voting cardinals.

1.  Archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla, Archbishop-emeritus of Chieti-Vasto and Prelate-emeritus of the Loreto Territorial Prelatue (Italy)
At the ripe old age of 98, Archbishop Capovilla’s mind is still razor-sharp, memory unfaded; his disarmingly animated yet gentle demeanor charms even the most disinterested person.  Appointed Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto in 1967 by Paul VI, he was appointed in 1971 to the Territorial Prelature of Loreto.  There he oversaw the custody of that famous Marian shrine (the Holy House), a place so loved by Pope John XXIII that in a visit to Loreto in 1961, he dedicated the proceedings of the upcoming Ecumenical Council to Mary under her title “Our Lady of Loreto”.  Speaking of John XXIII, Capovilla is most famous not as a bishop but as the priest-secretary of that Pope since he was Patriarch of Venice.  In many of his interviews and writings since then, he has bequeathed to the world, through his wonderful and lively storytelling, a special personal glimpse into the man that was Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli.

2.  Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, Archbishop-emeritus of Pamplona (Spain)
Studying in Rome and then in Louvain as a younger priest, he earned a Licentiate in Theology in 1956; the following year, he earned the Doctorate summa cum laude from the Angelicum in Rome, with a dissertation entitled, Maternitatis divinae diversa ratio apud Didacum Alvarez et Franciscum Suarez (Differing reasons for the Divine Maternity in the works of Diego Alvarez and Francisco Suarez).  Aguilar’s academic career blossomed, and he was eventually made rector of the Pontifical University of Salamanca.  As Archbishop of Pamplona, he aggressively asserted the Church’s voice in the public square, and never failed to raise his voice against the creeping trend of secularism in Spain.

3.  Kelvin Edward Felix, Archbishop-emeritus of Castries (Saint Lucia)
A tireless advocate for social justice and racial equality, Archbishop Felix for almost 27 years guided the See of Castries through tumultuous times.  Prior to becoming Archbishop, he was instrumental in calming racial tensions created by the Black Power movement at St. Mary’s Academy in Saint Lucia.  Because of his skills of mediation and of forging compromise, he was appointed Associate General Secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Churches.  In addition to serving the local church, he also has some Roman experience, serving the global church through membership in the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for Family Life.

With these choices, Francis is concretely shaping the direction of the Church.  In an upcoming post, we will analyze some of the important trends exhibited by these appointments to the Sacred College of Cardinals.

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