Pope names 17 car­di­nals; 3 of them are U.S. mod­er­ates

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - WEATHER - By Ni­cole Winfield

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 openly 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 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 get­ting far more rep­re­sen­ta­tion in this round than Europe, which has long dom­i­nated the Col­lege of Car­di­nals.

New “princes” of the church in­clude bish­ops from Ban­gui, Cen­tral African Republic; Port Louis, Mau­ri­tius and Tlal­nepantla, Mexico. In all, seven coun­tries that have never had a car­di­nal are get­ting one in this, the third batch of red-hat­ted church­men named by Latin Amer­ica’s firstever pope. De­spite the new nom­i­na­tions, though, Europe still has the most vot­ing-age car­di­nals with 54.

Sig­nif­i­cantly only one Ital­ian elec­tor was named: Francis’ am­bas­sador to “the beloved and mar­tyred Syria,” Car­di­nal-elect Mario Ze­nari.

And one of the over-80 car­di­nals is a clear sen­ti­men­tal fa­vorite: the Rev. Ernest Troshani Si­moni of Al­ba­nia.

Si­moni, who turns 88 later this month, brought Francis to tears when he re­counted his life story to the pope dur­ing Francis’ 2014 visit to Ti­rana: the two decades he spent im­pris­oned, tor­tured and sen­tenced to forced la­bor for re­fus­ing to speak out against the Catholic Church dur­ing Al­ba­nia’s bru­tal com­mu­nist rule.

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.

Their el­e­va­tion will bring the num­ber of vot­ing-age car­di­nals to 120 by the end of Novem­ber, the max­i­mum al­lowed un­der cur­rent rules. With the non-vot­ing car­di­nals in­cluded, the col­lege by that time will num­ber 228. With Sun­day’s ap­pointees, Francis will have ap­pointed 44 car­di­nal elec­tors and 11 non-elec­tors.

Of the new car­di­nals, Cupich is very much a pas­tor in Francis’ like­ness, em­pha­siz­ing the mer­ci­ful and wel­com­ing side of the church — some­what to the dis­may of U.S. con­ser­va­tive Catholics. His nom­i­na­tion as Chicago arch­bishop was Francis’ first ma­jor U.S. ap­point­ment and he was a pa­pal ap­pointee at the pope’s big fam­ily synod last year.

In a state­ment, Cupich said his ap­point­ment was “hum­bling and en­cour­ag­ing” and said he hoped that de­spite the new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, he and his flock would “con­tinue the task we have be­gun of re­new­ing the church in the arch­dio­cese and pre­par­ing it to thrive in the decades ahead.”

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