No. 4 and No. 5 on the list are two apostolic nuncios: Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, nuncio to Italy, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, nuncio to the United States. Both are over 75, but this does not mean retirement is automatic because a nuncio stays as long as the pope wants. With these choices, the pope seems to give attention to the diplomatic world, but also notable is the elevated role these men are likely to have in the choosing new bishops for their countries. After all, the episcopates in the United States and Italy have been profoundly reshaped by Pope Francis’ appointments and his nuncios, who are the first ones entitled to select and propose candidates.
As always, Pope Francis also includes unexpected appointments. Among the new red hats is the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa. From memory, it is the first time in history that a Latin Patriarch has been created a cardinal. There is also the archbishop of Bogota, Luis Josè Rueda Patricio, the new archbishop of Madrid, José Cobo Cano, and the bishop of Hong Kong, Stephen Chow Sau-Yan, even though Hong Kong, with rare exceptions, always has had a cardinal at the helm. Among other things, Chow’s red hat seems to indicate the Holy See’s willingness to continue dialogue with China while maintaining a strong position on some issues.
It should not be forgotten that Chow visited the Archdiocese of Beijing in April at the invitation of Archbishop Li Shan, a significant fact that signals an ongoing dialogue. Chow invited Archbishop Li Shan to return the visit, thus carrying forward this path of “union” within the Chinese episcopate.
Then, however, Pope Francis also uses the criterion of representativeness: From South Africa, he draws the archbishop of Cape Town, Stephen Brislin, as cardinal, and from Malaysia, the bishop of Penang, Sebastian Francis.
Archbishop Protase Rugambwa brings a second representative of Tanzania to the College of Cardinals after the archbishop of Dar Es Salaam Polycarp Pengo, also created by Pope Francis. Since April, the former secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has been appointed coadjutor archbishop of Tabora. Archbishop Paul Runaganza Kizoka currently heads Tabora, and Rugambwa had already succeeded him in 2008 when he took over as bishop of Kigoma.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Starting from the consistory of Sept. 30, Europe rises to 115 cardinals from 105 today.
North America goes from 26 to 27.
South America goes to 29 from the starting 24.
Asia passes from 30 to 32.
Africa finally increases from 24 to 27 cardinals.
Italy will still be the most represented nation, with 52 cardinals, of which only 17 are electors; Spain will have 15, of which nine are under 80; France eight, including six electors; Portugal six, including four electors; Poland five, including four electors; Switzerland two, both electors; the United States 17, including 11 voters; Argentina seven, of which four are voters; Colombia four, including one elector; Venezuela two, including one elector; China three, including one voter; Malaysia one, an elector; Tanzania two, both electors, and South Africa two, including one elector; South Sudan one, an elector.
The remediation cardinals
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The slightly unexpected appointment of the archbishop of Córdoba, Ángel Sixto Rossi, as cardinal also gives dignity to a diocese in which the pope had spent the period following his role as provincial of the Jesuits in the 1980s — an exile, according to several biographers. And perhaps this is the cardinal’s appointment that seeks to offer some reparation with the past, as there has been in every consistory of Pope Francis before.
Like the former nuncio to Belgium, Karl-Josef Rauber, who was the one who did not want André-Joseph Leonard to be appointed archbishop of Brussels (and in fact, Pope Francis did not create him a cardinal but gave the biretta to his successor, Jozef de Kesel), or the red hat shown to Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, whom Benedict XVI had sent as nuncio to Egypt when his promotion to head of a dicastery seemed natural because the pope did not share his vision of dialogue with other faiths. Or, again, Enrico Feroci was created as a cardinal, whom Cardinal Camillo Ruini had never wanted to promote as a bishop.
Priestly formation, new evangelization
The appointment of the bishop of Ajaccio François-Xavier Bustillo is not striking. Pope Francis donated his book “Witnesses, Not Officials: The Priest within the Change of Era” at the end of the chrism Mass on Holy Thursday 2022.
Instead, by appointing the archbishop of Juba, Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, Pope Francis confirms his desire to give the dignity of cardinal to bishops who find themselves in difficult war zones.