Pope's choice of six new cardinals reflects geopolitical considerations
Geopolitical considerations appear to have influenced Pope Benedict XVI’s nomination of six new cardinals on Saturday.
In his homily during the Vatican consistory at which the cardinals – from Colombia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Philippines and the US – were “created”, the pope stressed that their diverse backgrounds bore witness to the universality of the Catholic Church.
“In this consistory, I want to highlight in particular the fact that the church is the church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents,” he said.
In an unusual move, the pope had chosen to hold his second consistory of the year at the weekend. The timing of a consistory is the prerogative of the pope but, in the past, they tend to have been held at two-year intervals.
Many commentators believe this consistory was prompted by the criticism of February’s “Eurocentric” consistory, at which 16 of the 22 new cardinals were European. None of the six appointed on Saturday was European.
The most important responsibility of the college of cardinals is to elect the next pope. All six new cardinals are “electors” – under 80 and with a vote at a papal conclave.
Despite the latest appointments, the college of cardinals will still be Europe-dominated, with 62 of the 120 cardinal electors from Europe. There are 21 from Latin America, 14 from North America, 11 from Africa, 11 from Asia and one from Oceania. Italy has the largest group of cardinal electors at 28.
Separately, Rome’s Irish clerical community reacted positively to the appointment of Fr William Crean as the next Bishop of Cloyne, in succession to Bishop John Magee.
Fr George Hayes, vice-rector of the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, said Fr Crean “has had a lot of pastoral and educational experience and he brings a lot of ability to the job”.