The Korea Herald


Pope Francis names 21 new cardinals, including prelates based in Hong Kong and Jerusalem


Published : July 9, 2023 - 21:28

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Pope Francis leads his Sunday Angelus prayer from the window of his office overlooking Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City, on Sunday. EPA/RICCARDO ANTIMIANI Pope Francis leads his Sunday Angelus prayer from the window of his office overlooking Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City, on Sunday. EPA/RICCARDO ANTIMIANI

Pope Francis on Sunday announced he has chosen 21 new cardinals, including prelates from Jerusalem and Hong Kong — places where Catholics are a small minority — as he continues to leave his mark on the body of churchmen who will select his successor.

The pope announced his picks during his customary weekly appearance to the public in St. Peter’s Square, saying the ceremony to formally install the churchmen as cardinals will be held on Sept. 30.

Among those tapped are several prelates holding or about to assume major Vatican posts, including the archbishop from La Plata, Argentina, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, 59, whom the pope just named to lead the Holy See's powerful office for ensuring doctrinal orthodoxy a nd overseeing processing of allegations of sexual abuse against clergy worldwide.

The new cardinals also include Hong Kong Bishop Stephen Sau-yan Chow , 64, and the Vatican’s top official in the Middle East, Monsignor Pierbattista Pizzaballa, 58, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Those two churchmen guide flocks in geopolitical areas of keen concern to the Vatican.

On Sunday, in remarks preceding his reading out of the list of new cardinals, Pope Francis expressed hope that Israeli and Palestinian authorities would take up “direct dialogue” to end the “spiral of violence” — a reference to recent deadly clashes.

Francis repeatedly has cited the hardships of the Christian minority in the Middle East in recent decades.

In an interview in April with The Associated Press, Pizzaballa, an Italian prelate who is the top Catholic churchman in the Holy Land, said that the region’s 2,000-year-old Christian community has come under increasing attack, with the most right-wing government in Israel’s history emboldening extremists who have harassed clergy and vandalized religious property at a quickening pace.

For decades, the Vatican and China have experienced tensions alternating with improvement of relations over the Communist-led nation's insistence that it has the right to appoint bishops and the jailing of priests who professed loyalty to the pope.

Earlier this year, the Hong Kong bishop, who, like Francis, is a Jesuit, made the first visit to mainland China in nearly 30 years by a prelate in that post.

In announcing their names, Francis said the appointment of cardinals from across the globe “expresses the universality of the Church that continues to announce the merciful love of God to all men of the Earth.”

Cardinals serve as advisers to the pontiff on matters of teaching and administration, including the Vatican's scandal-plagued finances. But their most crucial duty is gathering in a secret conclave to elect the next pontiff. Francis has named numerous batches of new cardinals in his 10-year papacy.

That means, increasingly, the men who will vote for whoever succeeds him, in the event of his resignation or death, are churchmen supportive of his values, priorities and perspectives.

His last previous batch of cardinals were formally elevated to that rank — known informally as a “prince of the church” — in August 2022.

Three of the churchmen chosen to receive the cardinal red include prelates working in Africa, a continent where the Church has experience growth in recent decades. They are Monsignor Stephen Brislin, 66, archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa; Monsignor Protase Rugambwa, 63, co-adjutor archbishop of Tabora, Tanzania; and Monsignor Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, 59, archbishop of Juba, South Sudan, which the pope visited earlier this year. South Sudan gained independence from the majority Muslim Sudan in 2011, but has been beset by civil war and conflict.

The office that Francis appointed Fernández to is traditionally headed by a cardinal. But the speed with which the La Plata archbishop was tapped publicly as a cardinal — eight days after the appointment — was notable and highlights the attention the pontiff gives to that office.

A US-based group that tracks how the Catholic hierarchy deals with allegations of sexual abuse by clergy says Francis made a “troubling” choice in picking the Argentine archbishop, who, in 2019, refused to believe victims who accused a priest in that archdiocese of sexually abusing boys.

Among others named to be cardinals are prelates from Lisbon, Portugal, which the pope will visit next month for a Catholic youth jamboree; Penang, Malaysia; the French island of Corsica; Bogota, Colombia; and Lodz, Poland.

Eighteen of the 21 new cardinals are younger than 80 and would be eligible to vote in a conclave.