(Vatican Radio) Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, head of the Holy See Press Office, has published the following "notes" on the new Cardinals, whose names were announced by Pope Francis at the Angelus on Sunday:
With respect to the number of 120 electors, there were 12 places “open” in the College today or in the coming months. The Pope has slightly exceeded this number, but remained very close to it, such that it is substantially respected.
The most evident criteria is evidently that of universality. Fourteen different countries are represented, including some that do not currently have a Cardinal, and some that have never had one. If the retired Archbishops and Bishops are counted, eighteen countries are represented. There are no new Cardinals from North America (the USA or Canada) because they already have a significant number, and that number has remained stable during the past year. (There is a new Mexican Cardinal).
The presence of countries that have never had a Cardinal (Capo Verde, Tonga, Myanmar) is noteworthy. These countries have ecclesial communities that are small or that represent a minority within their country. (The Bishop of Tonga is the President of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific; the Diocese of Santiago de Cabo Verde is one of the most ancient African Dioceses; the Diocese of Morelia in Mexico is in a region troubled by violence.)
The fact that only one of the new Cardinals is from the Roman Curia is also notable, while “Roman” Cardinals remain about a quarter of the electors. It is evident that the Pope intends to consider the posts of Prefects of the Congregations and of some other very important institutions within the Curia – as, in this case, the Tribunal of the Signatura – as Cardinalatial posts.
The new nominations confirm that the Pope is not bound to the traditions of the “Cardinalatial Sees” – which were motivated by historical reasons in different countries – in which the Cardinalate was considered almost “automatically” connected to such sees. Instead, we have several nominations of Archbishops and Bishops of sees that in the past have not had a Cardinal. This applies, for example, to Italy, Spain, Mexico, Panama…
With regard to the retired nominees, the words of the Pope in his brief introduction should be noted: “They represent so many Bishops who, with the same pastoral solicitude” have served as pastors of Dioceses, but also in the Curia and in the diplomatic service. The cardinalatial nominations are intended, then, as a recognition given symbolically to some, but recognizing the merits of all.
The youngest of the new Cardinals is Archbishop Mafi of Tonga (b. 1961), who will become the youngest member of the College of Cardinals.
The oldest is Archbishop Pimiento Rodriguez, Archbishop emeritus of Manizales (b. 1919).