On September 1, the Holy Father announced a consistory on October 5 to create thirteen new cardinals. Of the thirteen cardinals that Pope Francis has named, ten of them are cardinal-electors, or under age 80 and eligible to vote in a papal conclave.
“We’re seeing cardinals that are very close advisors to him, as well as cardinals from the peripheries—something that Pope Francis has made a mainstay of his choices and once again for the most part he has bypassed the larger archdioceses and sees around the world to appoint new cardinals from places that either had not had them before or are just highly unusual,” Dr. Matthew Bunson, Catholic author, professor, and regular guest on Relevant Radio®.
One of the Holy Father’s choices was a Jesuit priest, Fr. Michael Czerny SJ, who is advisor to the pope on issues of migrants, refugees, and human trafficking. This was a surprising choice, as cardinals are usually first a bishop or archbishop, but it shows the importance that Pope Francis places on Fr. Czerny’s work and leadership in this area.
“We have seen it before, it’s not unheard of. The current regulations relating to the appointment of cardinals requires that if you are named a cardinal, you really need to become a bishop. The Holy Father is allowed to grant a dispensation for that, but it tells us a lot about the esteem that Pope Francis holds Fr. Czerny in that he would actually go about naming somebody who is not a bishop already. And it is part of the Holy Father’s genuine concern for this dicastery—it’s the Section for Migrants and Refugees,” said Dr. Bunson.
There’s the temptation to look at every papal decision as a ‘political’ move, but Dr. Bunson encourages the faithful to understand the most basic role of the cardinals in the Church.
“Pope Francis is continuing on his pace as we have seen throughout his pontificate, of really reaching to the peripheries, of going to far-flung places of the world to make sure that every corner of the world is represented. One of the ways to approach this, I think, is to look at Francis’ vision for the College of Cardinals in one of its most traditional and basic roles, and that is to provide advisors to the pope. There’s always this tendency to … look at things from a political lens, but Francis also looks at it from the fact that he wants to hear from people all over the world.”
Listen to the segment here: