Pope Francis' unexpected announcement this past Sunday that he would appoint 13 new cardinals to the College of Cardinals strengthens his grip on the Catholic Church and solidifies a liberal majority to select the next pope.
Press reports focused on the fact the Pontiff got stuck in an elevator for 25 minutes in route to his balcony appearance, but the Papal announcement was monumental for Catholics.
While three of the Cardinals designated will be honorary, 10 new ones will be created Oct. 5 at a consistory and will become active members of the College of Cardinals, increasing its number of electors to 128, exceeding the current limit of 120.
Since assuming the seat of St. Peter in 2013, Francis has been assiduously stacking the College of Cardinals with supporters, ones that will not only back his revisions to Church teachings, but choose his successor.
With his Sunday pronouncement, Francis will have picked 67 new members of the College of Cardinals, giving his backers a clear majority for the first time. Of the remaining members, 42 were selected by Benedict and 19 by John Paul II.
Francis' new majority will also set a new tone, one in keeping with Francis' desire that the Church move its focus away from tradition to one that is more active in secular politics, advocating such positions as socialist economic policies, environmental responsibility, immigrant rights, and diplomacy toward Islam.
On matters of doctrine, the Pope has sought to move the faith to one that accepts alternative lifestyles, including gays and lesbians, and eases restrictions of Catholics who have been divorced.
Edward Pentin, the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Register, profiled the Pope's new Cardinal designees. They include:
Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot (Spain), 67
Guixot serves as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He has been charged with overseeing dialogue between the Vatican and Egypt's Al-Azhar mosque and university, which is viewed as the Vatican of the Sunni Islamic world.
He was also a former president of the Pontifical Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies and assisted in drafting the "Document on Human Fraternity," containing a criticized provision that "diversity of religions" is "willed by God."
Archbishop José Tolentino de Medonça (Portugal), 53
Tolentino serves as the Archivist and Librarian to the Holy Roman Church, and wrote a highly favorable introduction to a book on "feminist theology," written by a radical, anti-capitalist, pro-abortion nun, Sister Maria Teresa Forcades. Papal watchers have been stunned how quickly Tolentino has risen through the hierarchy.
Archbishop Matteo Zuppi (Italy) 63
Like Pope Francis, Zuppi is particularly sensitive to social issues. He was referred to as a "priest of the streets" for his outreach to the elderly, immigrants, gypsies, and drug addicts. He has also been described as a "great supporter of 'LGBT' Catholics." He is considered a favorite of Italian left-wing parties.
Archbishop Jean-Claude Höllerich (Luxembourg), 61
Höllerich is highly critical of populist political leaders in Europe and the United States. He favors open borders, claiming that to not embrace migrants is to deny "God's love and love of neighbor."
Jesuit Father Michael Czerny (Canada), 73
Czerny's political opinions mirror those of Pope Francis, and for partly that reason he was appointed Undersecretary of the migrants and refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He promoted social justice issues in Latin America, Africa, and Rome.
Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo (Indonesia), 69
On the surface, Hardjoatmodjo is unremarkable as compared to the others, except that he serves as an archbishop within the world's most populous Muslim nation. He advocates for the use of the vernacular in Catholic prayer.
Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez of San Cristóbal (Cuba), 71
Rodríguez was among the first group of Cuban Catholic priests to be educated solely within Cuba. Like Cuban government officials, he prefers "a progressing socialism" and said he does not want capitalism in Cuba.
Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu (Congo), 59
Besungu was appointed as president of the Episcopal Commission "Justice and Peace." Like Tolentino, his relative youth will give him a lasting voice in the College of Cardinals. He became embroiled in Congolese politics and defended those Catholics who organized pro-democratic demonstrations that drew violent responses from police.
Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri (Guatemala), 72
Imeri is heavily involved in social justice issues, including advocating on behalf of indigenous people's rights and campaigning against multinational corporations working in Guatemala. He received the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award in 2011 for his work to empower the poor and marginalized.
Archbishop Cristobal Lopez Romero of Rabat (Morocco), 67
Lopez Romero was pastoral minister for the marginalized in the La Verneda district of Barcelona. Pope Francis named him Archbishop of Rabat in December 2017. He emphasized his congregants' international character to the pontiff in early 2019, especially migrants from countries south of the Sahara.
In addition to the above 10, Pope Francis announced three "honorary" Cardinals, appointed because of their work within the church but who are ineligible to vote because they have attained at least the age of 80.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to stack the U.S. Supreme Court by increasing the number of sitting justices, but he failed. Pope Francis appears to have succeeded with the College of Cardinals.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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