With the announcement of the future consistory scheduled to be held in August 2022, the sovereign pontiff continues to reshape the face of the college of cardinals which will elect his successor, taking some very political swipes in passing.
The news had been awaited for several months: Pope Francis has finally decided to end the suspense by announcing, during the May 29, 2022 Sunday Regina Coeli, the elevation to the cardinalate of twenty-one prelates. Among them, sixteen have not yet reached the fateful milestone of eighty years, and will be able, if necessary, to elect the successor of the current Roman pontiff.
With the announcement of the next consistory scheduled for August 27, the college of electors of the successor of Peter continues to be remodeled in the image of Pope Francis. From this point, almost two thirds of the cardinal electors owe him their red hat.
Several observers see it as the current pope's stated desire to prepare for the election of a successor in his image, as suggested by the predominantly “Bergolian” profile of the future conclave.
Concentrating only on the May 29 appointments, we note the choice of Msgr. Jean-Marc Aveline, Archbishop of Marseille, at the forefront of the question of the reception of migrants, who will cause some teeth to cringe in the French episcopate.
Or that of Msgr. Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, a zealous prelate in the application of the motu proprio Traditionis custodes: one more – papal – stone in the garden of the faithful and priests attached to the traditional liturgy.
Or that of Msgr. Robert W. McElroy, Bishop of San Diego, a rather progressive profile in the United States, who spoke out on several occasions against refusing to admit politicians in favor of abortion to communion: an appointment in the form of a snub for the many conservative American bishops.
We also note the appointment of the Franciscan Ulrich Steiner, Bishop of Manaus, Brazil, a prelate who was one of the rare Brazilian bishops to express his concerns about Jair Bolsonaro, well before his election as head of the country.
Another fact to note: the internationalization of the Sacred College and the ever-decreasing weight of Europe within it, particularly Italy. Next August 27, there will be fourteen voters from the Italian Peninsula: a figure that should drop to six by the end of 2023, given that eight Italian cardinals will celebrate their eightieth birthdays.
The next nomination includes eight Europeans: a Briton, a Spaniard, a Frenchman, a Belgian, and four Italians – three of whom are over 80. There are also two Africans: a Nigerian and a Ghanaian. There are five members from the Americas: two Brazilians, one American, one. There are are also a Paraguayan and one Colombian. Finally, six future cardinals come from Asia: South Korea, India (2), East Timor, Mongolia, and Singapore.
But do not think for an instant that Pope Francis would forget to thank his friends: thus Msgr. Fernando Vergez Alzaga, a Spaniard from Salamanca, very close collaborator of the current Roman pontiff, will receive the red hat from his benefactor on next August 27: to show that all traditions have been thrown away under the current pontificate!
The delay between the presentation of the list of elected cardinals and their “creation,” according to the established term, is unusual. Which introduces a question: in the event of the death of the Pope before August, could the 16 cardinals old enough to do so participate in the conclave? The answer is no. Because it is the consistorial ceremony that creates the status of cardinal.