The logic behind Pope Francis’s cardinal appointments

Catholic Herald, 05 September 2019

The creation of cardinals used to be fairly predictable, as red hats were given to “cardinalatial” sees and the more senior and historic offices of the Roman Curia. Pope Francis has changed all that. The only predictable thing is that each new consistory will be full of surprises.

The sixth consistory of Pope Francis, to be held on October 5, will be true to the new form. Three of the 10 new cardinal-electors come from dioceses which have never had a cardinal before: Rabat (Morocco), Huehuetenango (Guatemala), and Luxembourg.

Size does matter, and the smaller the better. Luxembourg’s progressive Jesuit is in, and Los Angeles’s conservative Opus Dei archbishop is still out. The repeated bypassing of Archbishop José Gomez – the most senior Latino archbishop in America, leading the largest archdiocese in the country – continues to puzzle.

Also bypassed – for the sixth time by Pope Francis – is Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Even his predecessor during communist persecution was named a cardinal. Despite the concern that Pope Francis showed for the UGCC this past July at a special Vatican summit, it appears that the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow – and behind him, Vladimir Putin – still get a veto on matters Ukrainian, and their hostility to Shevchuk and the UGCC has been manifest for years. The day after the new cardinals were announced, the Holy Father received Shevchuk and the UGCC governing council of bishops in a long-planned audience. It must have been a bit awkward.

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