Francis: The Pope will appoint 21 new cardinals that consolidate his succession and reinforce the Hispanic presence | International

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Pope Francis announced this Sunday that he will create 21 new cardinals. The ninth consistory - as the protocol for the appointment of cardinals is known - of the Argentine pontiff, who has officiated one a year since he was elected, will be held on September 30. And it will serve to definitively establish the new balances of power and geography that Jorge Mario Bergoglio has imprinted on the Catholic Church, which has abandoned Eurocentrism and is moving more and more towards the peripheries.

The Pontiff, who made the announcement by surprise after reciting the Angelus Sunday from the window of the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, he stressed that the appointments "express the universality of the Church" because it is distributed throughout the planet. Several of the new cardinals are Spanish: the recently appointed Archbishop of Madrid, José Cobo; the Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation, Ángel Fernández Artime, and François-Xavier Bustillo, Bishop of Ajaccio, on the island of Corsica.

Of the total number of new cardinals, 18 will be electors, since they are under 80 years of age, so they will have the right to vote in the next conclave (if it is held before they reach that age). Of the new cardinals, three exceed the legal age, but the Pope wanted to place the mortarboard and purple on them to highlight "their service to the Church."

Most of the electors of the College of Cardinals - the body of the Church that brings together all the cardinals - have been appointed by Francis.

The Pope was expected to announce this consistory, which serves to shore up his vision in the high hierarchy of the Catholic Church, since in a couple of years some twenty cardinals will exceed 80 years of age and with this they will lose the right to vote in an eventual conclave.

With the new consistory, the Argentine Pope also reinforces the Hispanic presence in the high ecclesiastical echelons. Almost a third of the new cardinals come from Spain and Latin America, with representation from countries such as Argentina, Colombia or Venezuela.

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In addition, Francisco's tendency to appoint at least one Spanish cardinal in each batch is consolidated. Spain has established itself as a great cardinal power and is already the second country with the most voters, 11, tied with the United States and behind Italy.

Latin American presence

From Argentina, Bergoglio's homeland, the Archbishop of Córdoba, Ángel Sixto Rossi, and the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the former Inquisition), Víctor Manuel Fernández, will become cardinals. tuchopersonal friend of Francisco.

In addition, the archbishop of Bogotá, the Colombian Luis Rueda Aparicio, will receive the purple. The Venezuelan Diego Padrón Sánchez, archbishop emeritus of Cumaná; the Capuchin friar Luis Pascual Dri, confessor of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Pompeii in Buenos Aires, join the list of cardinals as "emeritus" or non-voters, for being over 80 years of age. The Italian nuncio Agostino Marchetto will also do so in this category.

future voters and papable at the same time they come from all continents and from different ecclesiastical realities. There are also several nuncios, diplomats from the Holy See, and members of the Roman Curia.

On the list are, for example, the prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, the American Robert Francis Prevost; that of Oriental Churches, the Italian Claudio Gugerotti, or the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa.

Among the cardinal diplomats will be the apostolic nuncio in San Marino, Emil Paul Tscherrig, or the French Christophe Pierre, representative of the Holy See in the United States.

Also receiving the purple will be the Archbishop of Cape Town, the South African Stephen Brislin; the one from Malaysia Penang, Sebastian Francis; Hong Kong's Stephen Chow Sau-yan; the one from Juba, the Sudanese Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, or the assistant from Lisbon, Américo Manuel Alves Aguiar; the Polish Grzegorz Rys, Archbishop of Lodz, and the Tanzanian Protase Rugambwa, Coadjutor Archbishop of Tabora.

Francisco has continued in the line that he established at the beginning of his pontificate to overcome the Eurocentrism that governed the College of Cardinals in the past. Although, according to experts, this adds a mystery to the election of the future Pope, since the cardinals, having such diverse origins, know each other less and do not have as many opportunities to meet to exchange views or reach agreements, as was the case. in other times.

Including the new appointees, the College of Cardinals will now be made up of 243 members, but only 137 will have the right to vote. Currently, there are 121 cardinal voters, but in the coming months two of them (the Italians Giuseppe Versaldi and Angelo Comastri) will reach the limit of 80 years.

Although the conclaves are unpredictable and surrounded by secrecy, arithmetic is important when analyzing the internal dynamics of the Church's government, the weight of each current and the support Francis has, repeatedly attacked by the most conservative sectors. , to ensure that a successor is chosen in his line.

The statistics of the Holy See, updated as of June this year and which still do not include the data of the consistory announced on Sunday, show that the Pontiff has appointed two thirds of the College of Cardinals (half if one takes into account non-voters).

Francis has chosen 81 of the 121 current electors, while nine of them were appointed by John Paul II and 31 by Benedict XVI. To these must be added the 18 this Sunday.

By geographic division, at this time, Europe remains the most represented continent in the College of Cardinals, with 56 non-elector members, followed by Asia (21), North America (16), Africa (16), South America (14), Central America (5) and Oceania (3).

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