At long last, the August 2022 consistory is upon us. After an unusual May announcement that a relatively large number of new cardinals would be created in August, Pope Francis will formally make 21 new Cardinals tomorrow. We have discussed the rise of several of these cardinals-designate, including Bishops Robert McElroy of the United States and Peter Okpaleke of Nigeria. We have also written about Archbishop Arthur Roche several times in the past. As prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, he has been given the difficult task of carrying out Pope Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, and has been the target of traditionalist attacks. I wrote about his dicastery’s Responsum ad Dubium about questions on the implementation of Traditionis Custodes, and Nathan Turowsky wrote about Archbishop Roche’s address at the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’Anselmo, in which he reflects on “a new awakening of the sacred Scriptures in the Roman Rite.”
The scheduling of the consistory was unusual. The length of time between the May announcement and the actual consistory has also been unusually long, leading to speculation that it might be a signal that Pope Francis was planning to resign (rumors that the pope eventually shut down).Technically, the last time a consistory took place in August was 1807, and it was a much more quiet affair. That year, Pope Pius VII named Francesco Guidobono Cavalchini to the cardinalate in pectore (in secret) during a particularly troubled time in the relationship between Napoleonic France and the Holy See, and it wasn’t made public until April 1818, after the pope returned from several years of forced exile in Savona.
Carol Glatz of Catholic News Service did the numbers breakdown of the consistory, analyzing the makeup of the college of cardinals according to factors like country, pope who appointed them, and age. The trends point toward a more international and diverse college. Additionally, as Francis’s pontificate continues and more cardinals reach the age of 80 (at which point they are no longer eligible to vote in a conclave), the percentage of cardinal-electors appointed by him has increased.
Catholic News Service also provided mini-biographies for each of the new cardinals. These profiles include many interesting details about each of the men about to receive a red hat, including many “firsts” for the college of cardinals. For example, Leonardo Ulrich Steiner of Manaus, Brazil, will be the first cardinal serving the Amazon region. Another interesting story is that of Cardinal-designate Filipe Neri Ferrão, 69, the archbishop of Goa. This Indian prelate is about to become the first from this historic archdiocese in its 465 years of existence. Also from India is Archbishop Anthony Poola, the first member of the Dalit community (long referred to as the “untouchable” caste) to be named to the college. The profile of William Goh Seng Chye, who will be Singapore’s first cardinal, is interesting as well. He will be the only cardinal-elector of Chinese ethnicity since Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong turned 80 in 2019.
Here are some other articles and interviews about the new Cardinals.
First, here is a new interview with Bishop McElroy with the local NBC station in San Diego. He speaks about the leadership and priorities of Pope Francis, as well as some hot-button issues like the Dobbs decision and women deacons.
Aleteia has a profile of Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr, from the diocese of Wa in Ghana. Prior to his appointment as a bishop, he served as superior of the Missionaries of Africa (the “White Fathers”). He was the first African to hold this role. Since becoming bishop, he has held leadership positions in the African Church, including as president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). He was the first Ghanaian to hold this role.
In Crux, Nirmala Carvalho explains the significance of the appointment of Archbishop Poola to the college. She points out that “Although Dalits make up the vast majority of Catholics in the country, they are a minority among the church leadership: Of the country’s 31 archbishops, only two are Dalits, and of the 215 bishops, only 11 are Dalits.” In recent years, the 65% of Catholic who are Dalit have been speaking out about the low number in the hierarchy, and the symbolic impact of this appointment cannot be understated.
Deborah Castellano Lubov of Vatican News has a profile of East Timor’s Cardinal-elect Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili, who will be the first cardinal from Asia’s second-most Catholic nation (after the Philippines). He speaks about the struggles faced by this small nation since gaining independence in 2002 following a civil war from 1975-1999, as well as the role of faith in its people and identity.
Deborah Castellano Lubov also has an interview of Archbishop Roche, which touches on a wide range of topics, including the liturgical reform, secularization, access to the sacraments, and the shortage of priests.
In terms of analysis of this new group of cardinals, former papal spokesman Federico Lombardi, SJ, has a breakdown of the new class in La Civilta Cattolica. He writes:
The August consistory will result in a college of cardinals that increasingly reflects the universal presence of the Catholic Church and also the marked evolution of its distribution in the different continents and countries. A missionary Church attentive to the different “peripheries”: geographical, cultural, social. A Church rich in pastoral experiences and great spiritual traditions. A Church that also experiences situations of tension, both internally and in relation to the societies in which it operates.
Philip Pullella of Reuters offers his analysis of what type of pope that this intriguing group of cardinals might someday elect. He suggests that a significant factor will be the two-day closed door meeting of all the cardinals on Monday and Tuesday. He writes that “The meetings, officially to discuss the Vatican’s new constitution, will give cardinals a rare opportunity to size each other up in person without being under the pressure of gathering to elect a new pope.” Because so many of these cardinals have never met each other, this will provide a first opportunity for many of them to get to know one another.
Over at The Tablet, Christopher Lamb gave some insights into the consistory’s significance, suggesting that it might be the beginning of a “pre-conclave” period in the Vatican. He writes, “It is a time when speculation over who could succeed Pope Francis really starts to heat up and marks a critical moment to take stock of the Francis pontificate, due to mark 10 years on 13 March 2023.”
Whenever the next conclave takes place, it is certain that most of these men will be among those electing the next pope. So keep them in your prayers.
Image: ALETEIA/JEFFREY BRUNO. License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.