As you know, in a surprising but not totally unexpected move, Pope Francis on Sunday, after Mass in St. Peter’s Square for the Marian Jubilee and after praying the Angelus, announced he will create 17 new cardinals in a consistory to be held on November 19, the eve of the closing of the Jubilee of Mercy.

Thirteen of the new cardinals will be under 80 years of age and thus eligible to vote in a conclave.  There were 13 vacancies for electors as of yesterday morning but now the cardinal electors number 120, the ceiling set by Pope Paul VI on November 5, 1973. Francis has named 44 of those electors.


The men he named yesterday come from five continents, include the first cardinals ever from Bangladesh, the Central African Republic, Lesotho, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Three American Archbishops were named as well: Blase Cupich of Chicago, Kevin Farrell, emeritus of Dallas and now prefect of the newly created Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis. In his previous two consistories of 2014 and 2015, Pope Francis had not named any American cardinals.

In the “Francis tradition,” the cardinals-designate hail from a number of far away places (far from Rome and Europe), places the Pope would call “peripheral,” as well as developing countries, thus giving countries in Africa, Asia and South America more representation than in the past, especially vis-à-vis Europe, which has long dominated the College of Cardinals.

Perhaps Sunday’s biggest surprise was the naming of an 87-year old Albanian priest, Fr. Ernest Simoni, to the College of Cardinals, a priest Pope Francis met two years ago during his trip to Albania who had spent 28 years in prison and undergone torture during the communist rule of his country.

What is fascinating about Pope Francis’ appointments – in this and his previous consistories – are his breaks from tradition. For example, in the past, many prelates were chosen for the red hat who had proved themselves, so to speak, while working in the Roman Curia, or they were archbishops who headed what were traditionally cardinalatial sees such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia and even Venice in Italy. Francis has not yet named a cardinal to these three archdioceses, although he has named one for Tonga, a group of Pacific islands.

Below are the initial statements of four of the new cardinals-designate named yesterday by Pope Francis – the three American archbishops and the papal nuncio to Syria. I will do some more research but I believe this is the first time that a papal nuncio (nuncios always have the rank of archbishop) has been named a cardinal while still active as a papal ambassador.


“For me it was an emotional moment… It was a surprise! I sincerely thank the Holy Father, because this scarlett (gown) is for Syria, for the victims of Syria, for all those who suffer because of this terrible war. It’s for these people, for the many children who are suffering, for the many poor people who are paying the consequences of this tremendous conflict,” he told Vatican Radio.


Abp. Zenari said Pope Francis sends very strong messages regarding the situation in Syria, adding, “in this case, by creating a cardinal who is a nuncio in the country, he is saying something very strong: “it is almost a warning.” He hopes this nomination by Pope Francis is received as a signal and “used as much as possible.”

The future cardinal has for many years committed himself to seeking peace for the ravaged nation, and describes himself as a simple and humble person. He says his commitment continues “encouraged and fortified” by the Pope’s support. “This sign of closeness on the part of the Pope will most certainly produce some benefits as I pursue my mission.”

CARDINAL DESIGNATE JOSEPH TOBIN OF INDIANAPOLIS: A statement was released immediately after the announcement on Sunday by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.


“Early this morning I learned that Pope Francis had appointed me to the College of Cardinals. I will formally be installed in that service in a ceremony in Rome next month. I will continue as the Archbishop of Indianapolis. I have come to love deeply the people of the Catholic communities of central and southern Indiana and count as a precious blessing the numerous friendships I have with civic and religious leaders throughout the state. I ask all people of faith to pray for me. I hope this new responsibility will make me a better servant of all Hoosiers. I also offer my prayers and support to the other Cardinals-elect, especially Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago and Archbishop Kevin Farrell, of Dallas, who was recently appointed to a new position in Rome.”

CARDINAL DESIGNATE KEVIN FARRELL –  Immediately after learning the news of his appointment, Bishop Farrell said in a statement:


“I am humbled by the news this morning that our Holy Father Pope Francis has named me to the College of Cardinals. I ask all in the Diocese of Dallas to please pray for me that I may to the best of my ability fulfill this sacred duty to our Church.”

Bishop Brian Kelly, the Apostolic Administrator in the Diocese of Dallas, announced the news to the priests of the diocese saying, “It is with great joy that I share the news that Bishop Farrell will be made a cardinal in the next Vatican consistory on November 19, 2016.  Please pray for him during this important moment in his priesthood and let us once agai n thank God for his nine years of service here with us.”

CARDINAL DESIGNATE BLASE CUPICH OF CHICAGO: A statement released by the Archdiocese of Chicago immediately after the announcement has these words from the archbishop:


“The news this morning that Pope Francis has named me to the College of Cardinals is both humbling and encouraging. I offer my best wishes to the other Cardinals-elect, especially Kevin Farrell and Joseph Tobin, and I look forward to joining with them and the other cardinals as we work together with the Holy Father for the good of the Church.”

“When Pope Francis appointed me Archbishop of Chicago more than two years ago, the people of the archdiocese welcomed me as a friend and brother and I committed wholeheartedly to serve them. The role of Cardinal brings new responsibilities, but with your prayers and help, we will continue the task we have begun of renewing the Church in the archdiocese and preparing it to thrive in the decades ahead.”