VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has announced that Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. will be among 13 new churchmen to be elevated to the College of Cardinals at a cardinal-making consistory on Nov. 28 — the seventh of Francis’ pontificate.
Nine of the new cardinal-designates are under 80 and so eligible to vote in a conclave; the other four are octogenarians and so excluded from voting.
Archbishop Gregory, 72, succeeded Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington in May 2019. Born and raised in Chicago, he served 14 years as archbishop of Atlanta and three years as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (2001-2004).
A leading advocate for the prevention of clerical sex abuse, he has held a number of leading roles in the bishops’ conference. More recently, he has attracted headlines for being an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, criticizing the President’s rhetoric last year, and condemning Trump’s visit to the St. John Paul II shrine in Washington in June.
The Pope will also be giving a red hat to Bishop Mario Grech, newly appointed successor to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri as secretary general of the Synod of Bishops — a position traditionally been held by a cardinal.
The bishop emeritus of Gozo in Malta, Grech was the principal author of controversial Maltese guidelines on Amoris Laetitia. He outlined his priorities in an interview with La Civiltà Cattolica earlier this month, saying that the coronavirus pandemic has produced a “new model of ministry,” one that must replace previous efforts to “convert secular society” when it is “more important to convert ourselves.”
The Pope will also elevate to the cardinalate Bishop Marcello Semeraro, 73, the newly appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The bishop emeritus of Albano near Rome replaces Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom Francis dismissed last month under a cloud of financial corruption allegations against him.
Since 2013, Bishop Semeraro has served as Secretary of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on Church and curial reform. He has taken part in a number of synods of bishops, and has made frequent statements supporting the LGBT community in Italy, emphasising the need for inclusiveness.
The Holy Father has again preferred to choose bishops from the “peripheries” — or the global south — rather than traditional cardinalatial sees of large or prestigious Western metropolises such as Los Angeles, Paris, Milan or Venice, all of whom have been without a cardinal for much of his pontificate.
In this regard, Francis has chosen to elevate Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda. Aged 62, all members of Archbishop Kambanda’s family were killed during the 1994 genocide, except for one brother, who currently lives in Italy. St. John Paul II ordained Kambanda in 1990 during a papal visit to Rwanda, and Francis appointed him archbishop of Kigali in November 2018.
In South America, Francis has elevated Archbishop Celestino Aós Braco of Santiago de Chile who succeeded Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati in 2019 after the cardinal was forced to resign following accusations of abuse cover-up in the country. A 75-year-old Capuchin, Archbishop Aós is a native of Spain and was sent to Chile in 1983 where he has held several roles, including being a promoter of justice. Ordained bishop in 2014, video emerged last year showing him refusing to give Holy Communion to faithful who were kneeling down.
In Asia, the Pope has also elevated 68-year-old Archbishop Jose Fuerte Advincula who has led the archdiocese of Capiz, Philippines, since being appointed by Benedict XVI in 2011. St. John Paul II first appointed him bishop in 2001.
Also in Asia, the Pope has appointed Bishop Cornelius Sim, apostolic vicar of Brunei, to the College of Cardinals. Aged 59 and a native of Brunei, he was ordained Brunei’s first local priest on the Solemnity of Christ the King in 1989, and has served as apostolic vicar since 2004.
The Pope has also appointed two Italians to the cardinalate: Archbishop Augusto Paolo Lojudice of Siena-Colle Val d'Elsa-Montalcino, a 56-year-old Roman who was an auxiliary bishop of Rome from 2015 to 2019, and 55-year-old Capuchin Father Mauro Gambetti, Guardian of the Sacred Convent of Assisi, who was ordained in 2000.
The Pope has also elevated to the College of Cardinals four retired churchmen who, because they are over 80, are unable to vote in a conclave.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, 80, is a former apostolic nuncio who served as the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva from 2003 to 2016. Prior to that he was apostolic nuncio to various countries, including Ethiopia and Eritrea, where he helped broker peace between the two warring nations. He is also close to the Order of Malta and was appointed to a controversial five-member commission by Cardinal Pietro Parolin in 2016 to examine the dismissal of the order’s Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.
The Pope has also announced that Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa will be made a cardinal. The 86-year-old has served as papal preacher since 1980 and has received a number of awards, including from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.
Other appointees are Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, emeritus of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico, turned 80 in May and retired as bishop in 2017, and Father Enrico Feroci, parish priest at the Divino Amore shrine in Rome and a former director of the diocesan Caritas. Aged 80, he was ordained in 1965.
Pope Francis’ announcement, made at the end of today’s Angelus, took many by surprise as the number of electors already numbers 122 — two more than the 120-man limit advised by St. Paul VI.
By Nov. 28, that number will have dropped to 121 after Cardinal Wuerl turns 80 on Nov. 12.
The College of Cardinals will therefore have one of its largest groups of cardinal electors on record at the time of the consistory, just short of St. John Paul II’s 135 in 2001 and 2003. Three of Benedict’s consistories also resulted in over 120 cardinal electors, the highest being 125 in 2012.
With this consistory, Francis will have chosen 75 cardinal electors eligible to vote in the next conclave, although not all of his choices are guaranteed to vote for a candidate who shares Francis’ vision for the Church.
After announcing today’s new cardinals, the Pope asked the faithful to “pray for the new cardinals so that, by confirming their adherence to Christ, they may help me in my ministry as Bishop of Rome, for the good of all God’s faithful holy people.”