New cardinals: Pope’s choices stress dialogue, care for poor

Announcing the new cardinals, Francis said they illustrate “the missionary vocation of the Church that continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all men and women of the earth.”

Sep 06, 2019

VATICAN: Announcing the new cardinals, Francis said they illustrate “the missionary vocation of the Church that continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all men and women of the earth.”

A commitment to the poor, to caring for migrants and refugees and to engaging in dialogue with all people are characteristics many in the group of 13 share.

Among the over-80 cardinals is Lithuanian Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius, who, a year ago, joined Francis on a prayerful tour of the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius.

The archbishop had been imprisoned from 1983 to 1988 for “anti-Soviet propaganda.” As a Jesuit priest, in 1972 he began publishing the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, an underground newsletter documenting communist repression of the Church. Despite repeated questioning by the KGB, he managed to publish and distribute the chronicle for more than 10 years and, once he was arrested, others continued his work.

One of the new cardinal electors will be Guatemalan Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri of Huehuetenango, a human rights defender whose support for environmental activists has earned him death threats.

Two Roman Curia officials tapped to become cardinals hold positions that would have been considered automatic red-hat posts before Francis came on the scene: Spanish Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, 67, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; and Portuguese Archbishop Jose Tolentino Medonca, 53, Vatican archivist and librarian.

The surprising Curia pick was Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, one of two undersecretaries for migrants and refugees in the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Czerny, who was born in 1949 in what was Czechoslovakia and who migrated with his family to Canada when he was 2, worked in a variety of social justice ministries in Canada, Central America and Africa before coming to the Vatican.

According to canon law, he will need to be ordained a bishop before receiving his red hat Oct. 5, although he could request a dispensation. He did not respond Sept. 1 to a question about his possible ordination.

Francis’s choices continue to pay little attention to the large archdioceses traditionally led by cardinals, such as Milan and Venice. But he will give a red hat to Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, Italy, where all but one of the archbishops in the last 400 years had been a cardinal. The only exception was Archbishop Enrico Manfredini, who led the archdiocese for only eight months in 1983 before he died at the age of 61.

In selecting cardinals, Francis has made it a point to increase the geographical profile of the College of Cardinals. The conclave that elected him included participants from 48 nations; the 128 electors in the expanded college will include prelates from 68 countries.--CNS

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