By Elise Harris
During his Regina Coeli address Sunday, Pope Francis announced to pilgrims that he will be holding a June 28 consistory to create 5 new cardinals he said represent the “catholicity” of the Church.
“Brothers and sisters, I wish to announce to you that Wednesday, June 28, I will hold a consistory for the nomination of 5 new cardinals,” the Pope said May 21, adding that “their origin from different parts of the world manifests the catholicity of the Church, spread throughout the earth.”
The day after the consistory, on the June 29 Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the new cardinals will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peters Basilica alongside the new metropolitan archbishops named during the previous year, who traditionally receive the pallium from the Pope on that day.
The five new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis are: Archbishop Jean Zerbo, of Bamako, Mali; Archbishop Juan José Omella of Barcelona, Spain; Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden; Bishop José Gregorio Rosa Chávez, auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, El Salvador and Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Pakse, Laos and Apostolic Administrator of Vientiane.
Keeping true to Francis’ style, the new appointments represent not only the weight key European dioceses such as Stockholm carry, but also the Pope’s acute attention to the peripheries.
A key example of this is the appointment of a cardinal to communist Laos. In 2015 Pope Francis advanced the causes of canonization of 12 potential saints, two of whom were martyred by communist revolutionaries in Laos in 1960.
The Pathet Lao defeated the royalist forces in 1975, and Laos has been a communist state ever since. Foreign missionaries were expelled or fled that year, and now fewer than two percent of Laotians are Christian.
Also noteworthy is his appointment of San Salvador’s auxiliary bishop, marking the first time he has tapped an auxiliary as cardinal. Bishop Chávez was chosen over his Archbishop, Jose Luis Escobar Alas, for the red hat, showing that Francis, as seen in his previous appointments, is willing to skip over “cardinal sees.”
San Salvador is also the diocese Bl. Oscar Romero led before being shot during Mass in 1980. He was recognized as a martyr and beatified in 2015. Chávez is known to have been a close collaborator of Romero before the archbishop’s death.
Rumors have been going around that Romero will be canonized sometime this year, however, so far there has been no confirmation.
All of the new cardinals are under 80, and therefore eligible to vote in the next conclave.
They will join the 17 other prelates who got a red hat during Francis’ most recent consistory, held Nov. 19, 2016, to coincide with the close of the Jubilee of Mercy.
On that occasion, the Pope named 13 new cardinals of voting age, including three Americans, and five who had already passed the voting age of 80, making them ineligible to vote in the next conclave.
The Americans named by the Pope in November were Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Newark, and Bishop Kevin Farrell, prefect of the new Congregation for Laity, Family and Life.
Others of voting age include: Archbishop Mario Zenari, who is and will remain apostolic nuncio to the “beloved and martyred” Syria; Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui; Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid; Archbishop Sergio da Rocha of Brazil; Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dakha, Bangladesh; Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela; Archbishop Joseph de Kesel of Malines Brussels; Bishop Maurice Piat of Port-Louis, Mauritius Island; Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico and Archbishop John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Non-voters elevated were: Anthony Soter Fernandez, Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Renato Corti, Archbishop Emeritus of Novara and Sebastian Koto Khoarai, O.M.I, Bishop Emeritus of Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho.
Additionally, Francis also nominated Fr Ernest Simoni, an Albanian priest from the diocese of Shkodra, whose testimony of the persecution of the Albanian Church under the communist regime the Pope cried at during his 2014 daytrip to the country.