Pope Francis creates 21 new cardinals who will help him to reform the church and cement his legacy
Baku, September 30, AZERTAC
Pope Francis created 21 new cardinals at a ritual-filled ceremony Saturday, including key figures at the Vatican and in the field who will help enact his reforms and cement his legacy as he enters a crucial new phase in running the Catholic Church, according to AP.
On a crisp sunny day filled with cheers from St. Peter’s Square, Francis further expanded his influence on the College of Cardinals who will one day elect his successor: With Saturday’s additions, nearly three-quarters of the voting-age “princes of the church” owe their red hats to the Argentine Jesuit.
In his instructions to the new cardinals at the start of the service, Francis said their variety and geographic diversity would serve the church like musicians in an orchestra, where sometimes they play solos, sometimes as an ensemble.
“Diversity is necessary; it is indispensable. However, each sound must contribute to the common design,” Francis told them. “This is why mutual listening is essential: each musician must listen to the others.”
Among the new cardinals were the controversial new head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, Victor Manuel Fernandez, and the Chicago-born missionary now responsible for vetting bishop candidates around the globe, Robert Prevost.
Also entering the exclusive club were the Vatican’s ambassadors to the United States and Italy, two important diplomatic posts where the Holy See has a keen interest in reforming the church hierarchy. Leaders of the church in geopolitical hotspots like Hong Kong and Jerusalem, fragile communities like Juba, South Sudan, and sentimental favorites like Cordoba, Argentina, filled out the roster.
The ceremony took place days before Francis opens a big meeting of bishops and lay Catholics on charting the church’s future, where hot-button issues such as women’s roles in the church, LGBTQ+ Catholics and priestly celibacy are up for discussion.
The Oct. 4-29 synod is the first of two sessions – the second one comes next year -- that in many ways could cement Francis’ legacy as he seeks to make the church a place where all are welcomed, where pastors listen to their flocks and accompany them rather than judge them.