The new cardinals of Pope Francis

January 17, 2014
Source: District of the USA

Some commentary and background information on the newly-announced cardinals as well as a complete list of those appointed to receive the red hat.

Pope Francis announced, during the Angelus on January 12, 2014, that he will create 19 new cardinals in the Consistory that will take place on February 22 of this year. These are the first cardinals to be appointed by the Supreme Pontiff since his election in March 2013. Among the new cardinal electors, four prelates of the Roman Curia figure prominently: Pietro Parolin, Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Beniamino Stella, and Lorenzo Baldisseri, along with 12 residential archbishops.

The pope sent this letter to each of the cardinals that he will create on February 22:

Dear Brother, on the day when your appointment to the College of Cardinals is made public, I wish to send you a heartfelt greeting along with assurances of my closeness and my prayers. I hope that, as an associate of the Church of Rome, clothed in the virtues and the mind of the Lord Jesus (cf. Rom 13:14), you might be able to help me with fraternal effectiveness in service to the universal Church. The Cardinalate does not mean a promotion, nor an honor, nor a decoration. It is simply a service that requires us to widen our gaze and enlarge our heart. And although it seems a paradox, this ability to see farther into the distance and to love more universally with greater intensity can be achieved only by following the same way of the Lord: the way of bowing down [in Italian, abbassamento] and of humility, in the manner of a servant (cf. Phil 2:5-8). Therefore I ask you, please, to accept this appointment with a simple and humble heart. And, although you should do so with happiness and with joy, do it in such a way that this sentiment is far removed from any expression of worldliness, from any celebration alien to the evangelical spirit of austerity, simplicity and poverty. We will see each other again, then, on February 20, when we will begin two days of reflection on the family. I remain at your disposal, and I ask you, please, to pray for me and to have others pray for me. May Jesus bless you and may the Blessed Virgin protect you."

As of the Consistory on February 22, as Jean-Marie Guenois notes in the January 13 issue of Le Figaro:

The Sacred College will number 122 cardinal electors with the following profile: more Latin Americans (19) than North Americans (15), an Asian representation (13) equal to the African (13), only one from Oceania, but some Europeans (61) who symbolically lose the majority, having only 50% of the votes. This is historic, but the trend can only become more pronounced with Francis. The Pope is sovereign in this matter; his choices are therefore the reflection of his policy. Francis’ first list was anxiously awaited. And so nine of the sixteen new cardinals come from non-Western countries: there are five Latin Americans (Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Haiti, Nicaragua), two Africans (Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso), and two Asians (South Korea and the Philippines). This proportion is not spectacular but it has rarely been attained….

Out of the six Europeans, four are ‘automatic’ nominations because of the posts occupied by these personages—these are ‘ministers’ of the Vatican. So it is with three Italians: the new Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, and also with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the German Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller. By this minimalist choice of Curia officials—Francis could have appointed other heads of dicasteries, for instance the French Dominican Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, achivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church—this Pope is inaugurating a new way in which the cardinal’s hat is no longer necessarily connected with a ministerial post at the Vatican. The idea is to privilege the pastors on the ground in the Church’s Senate."

Here is a brief introduction to the four new cardinals of the Roman Curia.

Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, was ordained a priest in 1980. He spent his whole career in Vatican diplomacy. After entering the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in 1983, he was stationed in Nigeria (1986-1989), then in Mexico (1989-1992). He was then called back to the Secretariat of State, as minister for relations with Spain, Andorra, Italy and the Republic of St. Marin. In 2002 John Paul II appointed him undersecretary for relations with the States, which made him the third-ranking official in Vatican diplomacy. In 2009 he was appointed nuncio to Venezuela. Pope Francis chose him on August 31, 2013, to become his Secretary of State, a post that Archbishop Parolin has officially occupied since October 13 of that same year. (See DICI no. 281, 9-13-2013)

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Born in Mainz (Germany), he was ordained a priest in 1978. As a member of the International Theological Commission from 1998 to 2002, he worked alongside his compatriot Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, within the framework of the dialogue with the Orthodox. He was appointed Bishop of Regensburg in October 2002 by John Paul II. Benedict XVI was the one who called on him in July 2012 to succeed the American Cardinal William Levada at the head of the CDF. (See DICI no. 262, 10-12-2012DICI no. 271, 3-1-2013DICI no.288, 1-17-2014).

Archbishop Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy since September 2013. Ordained a priest in 1966, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1970. Ordained a bishop by John Paul II in 1987, he was then appointed nuncio to the Congo (1987-1992), then to Cuba (1992-1999) and finally to Colombia (1999-2007). In 2007, Benedict XVI assigned him to direct the Pontifical Ecclesiastic Academy where future nuncios are trained. On September 21, 2013, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Stella Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, which is in charge of priests and seminaries.

Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops since September 21, 2013. Ordained a priest in 1963 for the Diocese of Pisa, consecrated Archbishop in 1992, Archbishop Baldisseri had a long diplomatic career: he was nuncio in Haiti (1992-1995), in Paraguay (1995-1999), in India (1999-2002) and in Brazil (2002-2012). On January 11, 2012, he succeeded Archbishop Monteiro de Castro as Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops. Ex officio he became secretary of the College of Cardinals. In that capacity he served as secretary during the conclave in March 2013. By appointing him to the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis made him one of the designers of the reform of the Curia, which is supposed to give that institution greater importance in the government of the Church.

(Sources:  VIS/Apic/Imedia/Figaro DICI no. 288, 1-17-2014)

List of the cardinals to be created on February 22


  • Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, 59.
  • Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, 73.
  • Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muuller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 66.
  • Archbishop Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, 72.
  • Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster (Great Britain), 68.
  • Archbishop Leopoldo Jose Brenes Solorzano of Managua (Nicaragua), 64.
  • Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec (Canada), 56.
  • Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), 68.
  • Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta, O.Cist., of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 63.
  • Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve (Italy), 71.
  • Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli of Buenos Aires (Argentina), 66.
  • Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo Jung of Seoul (South Korea), 70.
  • Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, SDB, of Santiago (Chile), 71.
  • Archbishop Philippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), 69.
  • Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, of Cotabato (Philippines), 74.
  • Bishop Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes (Haiti), 55.

The three cardinals older than 80 and therefore not eligible to be electors are:

  • Archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla, former personal secretary of John XXIII, 98.
  • Archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, CMF, Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona (Spain), 84.
  • Archbishop Kelvin Edward Felix, Archbishop Emeritus of Castries (Santa Lucia), 81.

(Source: DICI)