Pope Francis appoints cardinals under rumors of resignation – 26/08/2022 – World

The consistory that, this Saturday (27), officializes the inauguration of 20 new cardinals, was supposed to be an ordinary Vatican event or, as the name suggests, ordinary. It has been held more or less annually with the main objective of filling vacancies, almost always left by those who die.

But the eighth edition coordinated by Pope Francis is far from banal. The ceremony and the events that follow it until Tuesday (30) are shrouded in novelties, question marks and buzz.

The traditional rites take place in the afternoon (11:00 am in Brasília) at St. Peter’s Basilica, where the pope will hand over the red hat to newcomers to the College of Cardinals, which now has 226 members. Of this total, 132 are also called electors, that is, they have the right to vote in the conclave to choose the next pope.

Of the 20 new cardinals, 16 are under 80 years old and, therefore, can be voters. Five, the majority, come from Asia, and there are also three South Americans (two Brazilians) and two Africans.

The internationalization of the College of Cardinals —less and less Eurocentric, even though the continent continues to concentrate 41% of voters — is illustrated by the inauguration of the title in countries such as East Timor, Singapore and Paraguay, which are now represented for the first time.

“With Francisco, there is a paradigm shift. He wants to put an end to the image that some seats are cardinals because they are important from an economic or political point of view”, says Father Adelson Araújo dos Santos, a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, In Rome. “The new cardinals confirm the entire line of their pontificate, of opening the Church to more distant horizons.”

The same can be said about the choice of Dom Leonardo Steiner, Archbishop of Manaus, considered the first “cardinal of the Amazon”, as he has been called. Former secretary general of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, he sees his appointment as a continuation of the Pope’s attention to ecological issues.

“He represents very well what the Amazon Synod [2019] wanted to reflect, both from the point of view of evangelization and the defense of the ecosystem and the most vulnerable populations as a result of predatory policies”, says Father Adelson, born in Manaus and a Jesuit like Francisco.

The other Brazilian who arrives at the College of Cardinals is Dom Paulo Cezar Costa, Archbishop of Brasília since 2020, the same year he joined the Pontifical Commission for Latin America at the Vatican, a position that brought him closer to the Pope. In total, Brazil now has eight cardinals, six of whom are electors.

In addition to considering the geographical origin, the Argentine pope has preferred to appoint religious to the cardinalate not as a kind of natural step in the ecclesiastical career, but as a way of honoring and expanding pastoral action, of proximity to the faithful.

In addition to altering the profile of the Roman Curia, Francis’ appointments since 2014 add up to a sufficient majority to suggest that the outcome of the next conclave may reflect his line of action, prolonging the effects of his papacy. Of the 132 voters, 83 were chosen by the current pontiff.

It is precisely the imminence of this conclave, about which Francis has spoken openly, that fuels rumors about the events of the next few days. After the inauguration ceremony, the Argentine travels to the Italian city of Aquila. There, he will visit the tomb of Pope Celestine V, the first to spontaneously resign, in 1294, after less than four months of pontificate. Back at the Vatican, the Catholic leader will attend an assembly behind closed doors with all the cardinals, summoned in an extraordinary way.

Officially, the reason is for the cardinals to reflect on the new Constitution of the Holy See, which is seen with strangeness by analysts. “It was a surprise. It may be that the pope really wants to make the document that organizes the daily life of the Holy See better known, but to do so after six months and in a closed event, without the participation of other religious…”, he says. , with suspicion, the Spanish Vaticanist Ángeles Conde.

Some say that one of his intentions is to promote the meeting of all the cardinal electors, many of whom were never together. “In view of a future conclave, the cardinals who will choose the pope need to get to know each other and understand who the best candidates are, not least because the next one will be one of them,” says Agostino Giovagnoli, a professor at the Catholic University of the Sacro Cuore in Milan. “It is an unusual meeting. He is very curious because neither the program nor the Pope’s intention is clear.”

There are also those who are considering submitting a request for resignation, a scenario that has come to haunt the Vatican due to the state of health of Francis, with knee problems that made him move around in a wheelchair recently.

At the end of July, upon returning from Canada, the Argentine, in conversation with journalists, said that resignation is “a normal choice”, but that it is not yet part of his plans. “The door is open! But I haven’t knocked on that door yet. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start thinking about it the day after tomorrow.”

Composition of the College of Cardinals

pope voters non voters Total
John Paul II (1978-2005) 11 39 50
Benedict 16 (2005-2013) 38 26 64
Francis (since 2013) 83 29 112
132 94 226

Who are the Brazilian cardinals*

1. Dom Geraldo Majella Agnelo, 88
Archbishop Emeritus of Salvador // Appointed in 2001 // Non-voter

2. Dom Odilo Scherer, 72
Archbishop of São Paulo // Appointed in 2007 // Voter

3. Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis, 85
Archbishop Emeritus of Aparecida // Appointed in 2010 // Non-voter

4. Dom João Braz de Aviz, 75
Mayor of Consecrated Life // Appointed in 2012 // Elector

5. Bishop Orani João Tempesta, 72
Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro // Appointed in 2014 // Voter

6. Dom Sérgio da Rocha, 62
Archbishop of Salvador // Appointed in 2016 // Voter

7. Dom Leonardo Steiner, 71
Archbishop of Manaus // Appointed in 2022 // Voter

8. Dom Paulo Cezar Costa, 55
Archbishop of Brasilia // Appointed in 2022 // Voter

*includes August 27 nominees

Source: Vatican

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