- The 13 new cardinals are drawn from; Italy, Malta, Chile, United States, Mexico, the Philippines, Brunei, and Rwanda.
- Nine of the newly appointed cardinals are below the age of 80 and can hence vote in a conclave to elect a new Pope.
- The ceremony, referred to as a consistory, is pope Francis' seventh one since he was elected in 2013
Pope Francis today formally appointed 13 new cardinals drawn from four continents and eight countries, in a ceremony marked with strict adherent to coronavirus pandemic spread restrictions hence only a small crowd was allowed to grace it with the venue of the event, St. Peter’s Basilica practically empty.
The 13 new cardinals are drawn from; Italy, Malta, Chile, United States, Mexico, the Philippines, Brunei, and Rwanda.
Pope Francis in his speech called upon the cardinals to be “vigilant” to remain on the path of Jesus Christ, “strength and meaning” in their life and ministry.
The ceremony, referred to as a consistory, is pope Francis’ seventh one since he was elected in 2013 and through the appointments, the pope showed his effort to nominate cardinals from places that have never had them before or whose service to the Church he wishes to highlight.
The pope is historically the first Latin American Pope in history and has long sought to appoint cardinals from the “peripheries”, to show the universal nature of the Church and to encourage small communities, where Catholics are a minority, with high-level leaders.
Nine of the newly appointed cardinals are below the age of 80 and can hence vote in a conclave to elect a new Pope.
Among the new Cardinals is cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington who today made history by becoming the first African American cardinal.
In an interview with the Associated Press, he said that he regarded his nomination as “an affirmation of black Catholics in the United States, the legacy of faith and fidelity they represent”.
Gregory’s appointment comes after a year of racial protests in the United States triggered by the brutal murder of a black man, George Floyd by a white policeman.
Another cardinal whose appointment is squarely focused on social justice is the retired Archbishop of Chiapas, Mexico, Cardinal Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, who is on record having defended the rights of Mexican indigenous peoples and equally spearheaded efforts to translate the Bible and liturgical texts into native languages.
Two of the new cardinals; Cornelius Sim, apostolic vicar of Brunei, and José F. Advincula , archbishop of Capiz , in the Philippines were unable to travel to Rome because of the pandemic.
The two will receive their regalia comprising of amongst other stuff, the cap and the ring through a representative of the Pope.
The ceremony took place against the backdrop of the COVID -19 pandemic which broke out in Italy in February with Italy being one of the countries that were severely hit by the pandemic.
Consistories are usually filled with pomp and color. They normally entail parties and crowds as cardinals grace the occasions accompanied by family, friends, and sometimes benefactors and parishioners who witness the crowning of the new “princes of the church” up close and then participate in receptions and dinners in their honor.
This year, there will be no courtesy visits and each cardinal has a limit of 10 people for guests.
As of today, there will be 128 cardinals of voting age with 42% being from Europe.