Pope Adds to Group That Will Pick His Successor

New cardinals include choices for Hong Kong, Jerusalem
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 9, 2023 10:40 AM CDT
Pope Adds to Group That Will Pick His Successor
FILE - New Cardinals sit during consistory inside St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. Pope Francis has announced he has chosen 21 new cardinals, including prelates from Jerusalem and Hong Kong, places where Catholics are a small minority. The pope announced his picks during...   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Pope Francis on Sunday announced he has chosen 21 new cardinals, including prelates from Jerusalem and Hong Kong—places where Catholics are a small minority—as he shapes the body of churchmen who will select his successor. The pope announced his picks during his weekly appearance in St. Peter's Square, saying the ceremony to formally install the churchmen as cardinals will be held on Sept. 30. Among them are several prelates holding or about to assume major Vatican posts, the AP reports, including the archbishop from La Plata, Argentina. Francis had just named Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, 59, to lead the Holy See's powerful office for ensuring doctrinal orthodoxy and overseeing processing of allegations of sexual abuse against clergy worldwide.

The new cardinals include Hong Kong Bishop Stephen Sau-yan Chow, 64, and the Vatican's top official in the Middle East, Monsignor Pierbattista Pizzaballa, 58, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Those two churchmen guide flocks in geopolitical areas of keen concern to the Vatican. On Sunday, in remarks preceding his reading out of the list of new cardinals, Pope Francis expressed hope that Israeli and Palestinian authorities would take up "direct dialogue" to end the "spiral of violence"—a reference to recent deadly clashes. Francis repeatedly has cited the hardships of the Christian minority in the Middle East in recent decades, per the AP.

Francis said the appointment of cardinals from around the globe "expresses the universality of the Church that continues to announce the merciful love of God to all men of the Earth." Cardinals advise the pope on matters of teaching and administration. But their most crucial duty is electing the next pontiff. Francis has now named nine batches of new cardinals in his 10-year papacy. Even before this group, he had appointed the large majority of those eligible to elect the next pontiff—cardinals younger than 80. With the latest appointments, the number of cardinals who meet that condition stands at 137. So, increasingly, the men who will elect Francis's successor are churchmen supportive of his values, priorities, and perspectives and who share his vision for the church.

(More Pope Francis stories.)

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