3 U.S. moderates among 17 Pope Frances names as cardinals
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis named 17 new cardinals Sunday — three of them American moderates, including Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich and Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin — in a clear signal to the conservative U.S. church hierarchy that he values pastors focused more on mercy than morals.
Tobin’s nomination also carries a political message ahead of the U.S. election next month, given that he opposed a request from Indiana Gov. Michael Pence, now the running mate of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, to not settle Syrian refugees in the state.
“I am shocked beyond words by the decision of the Holy Father,” Tobin tweeted. “Please pray for me.”
Thirteen of the new cardinals, including all the Americans, are under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a future conclave to elect Francis’ successor, the key Cupich Farrell job of a cardinal.
As is Francis’ tradition, the new cardinals hail from some of the most far-flung and peripheral corners of the globe, with Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania Tobin getting far more representation in this round than Europe, which has long dominated the College of Cardinals.
In all, seven countries that have never had a cardi- nal are getting one in this, the third batch of redhatted churchmen named by Latin America’s firstever pope. Europe still has the most voting-age cardinals with 54.
Only one Italian elector was named: Francis’ ambassador to “the beloved and martyred Syria,” Cardinalelect Mario Zenari.
The third American, Cardinal-elect Kevin Farrell, the outgoing bishop of Dallas, was an expected nomination. Francis in August named him to head the big new Vatican department for laity, family and life issues.
Speaking Sunday at the end of a special Mass on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis said the 17 would be elevated at a consistory on Nov. 19, on the eve of the close to his Holy Year of Mercy.
“Their provenance from 11 nations expresses the universality of the church that announces and is witness to the good news of the mercy of God in every corner of the world,” Francis said.