The Corner

Pope Francis Names New Cardinals

The pope this morning announced the names of the 19 cardinals he will create on February 22. (Here is the full list.)

There are zero new cardinals from the United States – probably an indication that the pope thinks the U.S. is already overrepresented in the college. (Brazil, with 130 million Catholics, has five voting-age cardinals. The U.S., with 78 million Catholics, has eleven.) Many will be surprised that the archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gómez, wasn’t on the list; that appointment would have given a shot in the arm to California Catholics after the scandal-plagued tenure of Roger Cardinal Mahony. But the pope’s decision was actually a conservative one, based on a longstanding Vatican tradition: When an archdiocese’s previous cardinal is still under 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave, his successor is not elevated to the cardinalate. (Pope Benedict XVI broke with this precedent to appoint Boston’s Seán Patrick O’Malley to the cardinalate in 2006, even though his predecessor, Bernard Cardinal Law, was still under 80. But Francis has decided to go back to standard Vatican practice, on this if not on other things.)

Also notable is that only four voting-age Italians were elevated this time – and that the patriarch of Venice, Francesco Moraglia, was not among them. The patriarch of Venice is almost always a cardinal; indeed, in just the last century, three of them went on to be elected pope.

One of these was Bl. John XXIII — to whom Pope Francis gave a shout-out today by naming his secretary a cardinal. If you followed Catholic stuff in the Sixties and Seventies, Msgr. Loris Capovilla was one of the names you’d hear quite frequently, because he had been Pope John’s closest collaborator and kept the flame of that particular pontifical legacy alive. He is now 98, and will, on February 22, become both the oldest and the newest member of the College of Cardinals.

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