Francis Installs 20 Cardinals

Pope has now chosen most of the men who will choose his successor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 27, 2022 3:40 PM CDT
Francis Installs 20 Cardinals
Pope Francis prays in front of new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis elevated 20 more churchmen to the rank of cardinal on Saturday, formally expanding the group eligible to vote for his successor in the event he dies or resigns—the latter a step he has said he'd consider if the need arises. Of the churchmen named new cardinals in the consistory ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica, 16 are younger than 80 and thus eligible to participate in a conclave—the locked-door assembly of cardinals who cast paper ballots to elect a new pontiff. The 85-year-old Francis has now named 83 of the 132 cardinals currently young enough to join a conclave, the AP reports. The others were appointed by the previous two popes, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose unexpected retirement in 2013 paved the way for Francis to be elected.

With the eight batches of cardinals Francis has named, prospects are boosted that whoever becomes the next pontiff will share his vision for the future of the church. Francis reminded the cardinals of their mission, which he said includes "an openness to all peoples, to the horizons of the world, to the peripheries as yet unknown." Underlining Francis' attention to those on society's margins, among the new cardinals is Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad, India. The prelate, 60, is the first member of the Dalit community, considered the lowest rung of India's caste system, to become a cardinal.

One by one, the newest cardinals, whose red cassocks and headgear symbolizes the blood they must be prepared to shed if necessary in their mission, knelt before Francis, who placed on their head the prestigious biretta, as the three-peaked hat is known. That moment was a chance to exchange a few words with Francis, who smiled at them. At times, the seated Francis, himself dealing with mobility problems, lent his arms to help kneeling cardinals stand up. In choosing San Diego Bishop Robert Walter McElroy, Francis passed over US churchmen leading historically more prestigious dioceses, including San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. McElroy has been among a minority of American bishops opposed to a campaign to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. Cordileone has said he'd no longer allow US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion for her defense of abortion rights.

(More Pope Francis stories.)

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