By Jean Ikani
Pope Francis on Saturday enthroned 20 cardinals from around the world, choosing men who mostly agree with his vision for a more progressive and inclusive Church and influencing their choice of his eventual successor.
Of the clergymen named new cardinals at the consistory ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica, 16 are under 80 and therefore eligible to participate in a conclave – the ritual, locked assembly of voting cardinals. to elect a new pontiff.
Francis, 85, has now appointed 83 of the 132 cardinals currently young enough to join a conclave. The others were appointed by the two previous popes, Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose unexpected retirement in 2013 paved the way for Francis’ election.
With the eight groups of cardinals Francis has named, the prospects are strengthened that whoever becomes the next pontiff will share his vision for the future of the Church.
The 20 new cardinals come from Britain, South Korea, Spain, France, Nigeria, Brazil, India, United States, East Timor, Italy, Ghana, Singapore , Paraguay and Colombia.
Francis reminded the cardinals of their mission, which he said includes “an openness to all peoples, to the horizons of the world, to the still unknown peripheries.”
“A Cardinal loves the Church, always with that same spiritual fire, whether it is big questions or daily problems, with the powerful of this world or those ordinary people who are great in the eyes of God,” said Francois.
Sitting in front of the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis asked them to remember “poor families, migrants and the homeless”.
He read his homily in a loud voice, often going off script, even going so far as to joke about a priest in Rome who was so close to his parishioners that he not only knew all their names, but also the names of their dogs. .
Francis, elected pope in 2013, has now chosen 83 of the 132 cardinal electors, or around 63%.
At each consistory, Francis has pursued what one diplomat called an “Asian tilt,” increasing the likelihood that the next pope will come from the region that is a growing economic and political power.