He made the announcement during the Angelus on September 1st. The consistory for the naming of cardinals will be held on October 5, 2019. Ten of them will be eligible to vote, the other three being over 80 years old. This will bring to 128 the number of cardinal electors, more than half of whom have been appointed by Francis.
Apart from the fact that there are three Jesuits, what should be noted much more is the personality of some of these future porporati, because, on the one hand, it shows the manner in which the pope wants to advance his progressive program; and, on the other hand, the promotion of people whom one would not expect to find among the princes of the Church.
The progressive advance is made in three directions, characteristic of the current pontificate: interreligious dialogue, the reception of migrants, and “mercy” towards moral deviations. This seems obvious in researching certain names.
What should first be noted is the nomination of Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, former President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. A specialist in Islam, in 2006 he was sent by Benedict XVI as the apostolic nuncio to Egypt, an appointment that had been judged as a punishment, or as a way to remove a prelate too close to a pro-Islamic line. The elevation to the cardinalate of this bishop who is over 80 years old, sounds like a rehabilitation. This was confirmed by Francis himself: on the plane taking him to Mozambique, a journalist thanked the Bishop of Rome for "giving back his honour" to Bishop Fitzgerald. To which the Pope replied that it was "an act of justice". Against the Pope Emeritus, therefore...
Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, successor of Bishop Fitzgerald at the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is also among the October 5th nominations. Secretary of this council since 2012, he has been very active in the dialogue with Al-Azhar University. He went there in 2016 to renew the broken links of the Muslim-Christian Commission for Dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Al-Azhar University. This commission was founded in 1998, but its work was suspended in 2011 by the Muslim university in response to statements made by Benedict XVI.
He is one of the editors of the Declaration on Human Fraternity signed by Francis and the Great Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, in Abu Dhabi on February 4, and he accompanied the Pope on this trip.
Recently, he prepared the setting up of a higher committee for the application of the Declaration and gave an interview in which he made a profession of syncretism: “To live his own identity in the ‘courage of otherness’ is the threshold that the Church of Pope Francis today asks us to cross. Only in this way can fidelity to God, in Jesus, can become a new story, the construction of a civilization of the alliance that embraces the richness of differences, in peace, and in the exchange of gifts.”
The Reception of Migrants
This is the orientation that Bishop Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna, cultivates. A member from his youth in the Community of Sant'Egidio, to which he owes his vocation, he has remained very close to it and has actively participated in many of its activities.
It should be recalled that the Community of Sant'Egidio, founded by Andrea Riccardi, advocates ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. Thus since the first Assisi meeting in 1986, every year Sant'Egidio has organized interreligious gatherings in different cities of Europe, intended to maintain “the spirit of Assisi.”
Bishop Zuppi warmly pleaded for the reception of migrants. In particular, he received a visit from Francis to Bologna in 2017, where he organized a solidarity luncheon in the Basilica of San Petronio, transformed for the occasion into a restaurant.
It is this orientation that has also merited a red hat for the Canadian Jesuit Father Michael Czerny—Francis’ right hand man in his work for migrants and refugees.
Born in Czechoslovakia, Father Czerny was first a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which in 2017 became the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He was appointed undersecretary of the section for migrants and refugees. In addition, he received the position of special secretary for the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region.
Through this Jesuit, it is the reception of migrants and the next synod on the Amazon that are being raised to the purple. Especially since it is the first time that an under-secretary has been promoted to such dignity.
“Mercy” Towards Moral Deviations
Finally, there is the appointment of the Portuguese “poet-priest,” Bishop José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, former vice-rector of the Catholic University of Lisbon, promoted by Francis to the positions of archivist and Vatican librarian after he preached the spiritual exercises to the sovereign pontiff and the Roman curia, at the request of Pope Bergoglio, in 2018.
This decision of Francis to have Mgr. Mendoca preach the retreat for the Curia had already caused much gossip at the time. In fact, this character unconditionally supports Sister Maria Teresa Forcades i Vila, a feminist sister who accepts without hesitation homosexual marriage and abortion. This is how he writes in his preface to the book Forcades, The Feminist Theology in History: “Jesus of Nazareth neither codified nor established rules,” in reference to the LGBT community, not hesitating to compare the “theologian” to St. Hildegarde of Bingen.
In a 2016 interview, he castigated Catholics and even cardinals: “Today we see Pope Francis contradicted by a more conservative wing of the Church and by some important names, even cardinals, who in a way are willing to place traditionalism above tradition.”
He adds about those who live in the sin of homosexuality and adultery: “No one can be excluded from the love and mercy of Christ. And this experience of mercy must be offered to all, whether they are remarried Christians, wounded by disastrous marital experiences, whether it be the reality of new families, or of homosexuals, who must find in the Church a space to be heard, a place of welcome and mercy.”
In this regard, it should be noted that the nomination of the Bolognese Matteo Zuppi was greeted with enthusiasm by the pro-LGBT Jesuit James Martin who, in a tweet, writes that Zuppi “is a great supporter of LGBT Catholics.” He also recalls that the Archbishop of Bologna wrote the foreword to the Italian version of his book Building a Bridge, How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, in which he calls for “a new pastoral attitude.”
All these characters will soon be princes of the Church. But as a traditional prelate said in the 1920s: “They have hats, but we have heads!” However, one can wonder what kind of pope would elect such cardinals