(Vatican Radio) One of the running themes through Pope Francis’ pontificate to date has been the need to move out to the peripheries of the Church and the world. In this context, it doesn’t get more peripheral than New Zealand.
The Archbishop of Wellington, John Atcherley Dew, is one of the 20 men who will be created cardinal this Saturday in the Ordinary Consistory. Few were more surprised than he was to learn his name was on the Holy Father’s list. In fact speaking to Vatican Radio he confides that he learned about his appointment to the College of Cardinals via text message.
Listen to Cardinal-designate Dew’s full interview with Emer McCarthy:
“It was three o’clock in the morning in New Zealand, and the Holy Father had said the Angelus and announced the new cardinals and I heard my phone beeping with messages saying congratulations and prayers for you and I had no idea what it was about”.
Together with the Bishop of Tonga, Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi, he travelled from the other side of the world to receive his red hat and bring to his fellow cardinals the concerns of the young churches on the peripheries. These include the very real impact of global warming on the people of the pacific islands, the plague of human trafficking and care of migrants – all issues that echo with Pope Francis.
However, in the two days of meetings ahead of Saturday’s celebration, he together with the 19 other new members of the College of Cardinals will be briefed on the pace of the reform of the Roman Curia. Cardinal-designate says Pope Francis’ choice of new cardinals not only reflects his reaching out to local churches but his desire to bring the voice of peripheral churches to the heart of the Vatican.
In this context, he hopes the reform of the Curia will put greater emphasis on the need for people in positions of governance to have pastoral experience:
“My particular hope…is the hope that those who work in the Curia have pastoral experience and know what it’s like to work in a diocese and work with people. That they have the opportunity to meet people who are very often struggling in life for one thing or another. I often think that people in the Curia don’t get this opportunity, you know they speak to other bishops day in day out. So where is their opportunity for real on the ground experience. So one hope is that people don’t spend too long in a particular office, but that they can go home to their diocese to be really aware of what people have to deal with in life”.
Another hope of Cardinal-designate Dew is that some of the bureaucracy is ‘tightened up a bit’ so that it is ‘much more effective’ and maybe ‘not quite as costly’.