Monday, November 21, the Vatican will publish an Apostolic Letter by Pope Francis on the occasion of the closing of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. The Letter’s title is “Mercy and Misery.”


This weekend, as the Church welcome 17 new cardinals, 13 of whom are under the age of 80 and will be among the 121 cardinal electors in a future conclave, I take you inside the College of Cardinals on “Vatican Insider.” What is a cardinal? How are they chosen? What are their duties? What does the College do as a whole? When was it founded? And so on….(photo: 2015 consistory)


In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives:


As you know, Pope Francis will close the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica this Sunday, thus officially ending the Jubilee of Mercy that began last December 8th. This Holy Door is always the first to be opened and the last to be closed. This photo shows Francis opening that door last December:


St. Peter’s Holy Door was donated by Swiss Catholics to Pope Pius XII (1939-58) for the 1950 Holy Year. Designed by Siena artist Vico Consorti, and inaugurated on December 24, 1949, it has 16 panels, 15 of which depict scenes from the Old and New Testament. The last panel shows Pius XII opening this door.

Pilgrims entering the various Holy Doors are not really allowed ample time to explore the door itself, its symbolism and artistry or to touch part of it or even to say a prayer. Therefore, if you click here, you’ll be able to see those individual panels and read a brief explanation:

Here is a link to a piece by Vatican Radio’s Veronica Scarisbrick on the foundry that produced these panels. Veronica has just retired but Vatican Radio re-aired this story, noting that it was the grandson of the original foundry owner, Ferdinando Marinelli who invited her to visit the family foundry.

She met him in Florence, says the Vatican Radio account, at his window on the world, an enchanting gallery on the banks of the River Arno seething with a myriad of bronze statues from different eras. Among them the impressive ‘Giambologna Neptune’, who seems to greet you as you enter.

And it was by this towering statue that Ferdinando Marinelli greeted her, ready to drive across the Tuscan countryside to his foundry which lies on the way to Siena, Vico Consorti’s city.

She was eager to visit his foundry and aware it was not the one where the Holy Door was cast by his grandfather but another more recent one. She knew too that Ferdinando Marinelli was sure to treasure that age old rapport of his foundry with the Vatican despite the more modern outreach he now enjoys right across the world. No surprise as for centuries the Church and the world of art have enjoyed an extremely prolific love affair.

Click here to catch a glimpse of Veronica Scarisbrick’s tour at the foundry



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.”



Pope Francis was really busy this week as we know, but I guess he has not had time to tweet!  His last tweet, in fact, was February 8, and he usually posts 4 or 5 times a week at least. Looking forward to your next gem, Holy Father!

And that gem finally came today, Monday the 16th: “Jesus came to bring joy to everyone in every age.”


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday denounced the murder of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIL militants in Libya. The Islamist terrorist organization released a video of the killings on Sunday.

Speaking in Spanish to an ecumenical delegation from the Church of Scotland, the Holy Father noted those killed only said “Jesus help me.”

“They were murdered just for the fact they were Christians,” Pope Francis said.

“The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out,” said the Pope.  “If they are Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it is not important: They are Christians. The blood is the same: It is the blood which confesses Christ.”

Pope Francis said that in remembering “these brothers who have been killed simply for confessing Christ,” Christians should encourage one another in the ecumenical goal, noting the “ecumenism of blood.”

“The martyrs are from all the Christians,” he said.

Monday afternoon, Pope Francis telephoned the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, to express sincere condolences to the Coptic Church for the recent barbaric assassination of Coptic Christians by militants of the fundamentalist Islamic State. The Holy Father promised his prayers today and also tomorrow, the day of the funeral celebrations for the victims, and unites himself spiritually to the prayers and the sorrow of the Coptic Church in his morning Mass.


As you all know, Saturday, February 14 and the feast of St. Valentine, was a wonderful day for the Universal Church when Pope Francis created 20 new members of the College of Cardinals, men hailing from some very faraway lands, including a remote series of islands in the Pacific Ocean.  The new Princes of the Church, in fact, come from Tonga, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Ethiopia, New Zealand and Cape Verde, joining cardinals from countries that traditionally have one or more red hats – Mexico, Portugal, Italy, Uruguay, Spain, Panama and Colombia. Tonga, Myanmar and Cape Verde are the three countries that, up to yesterday, never had a cardinal.

The consistory in which the new cardinals receive the red hat, their cardinalatial ring and a titular church in Rome is obviously the focus of this important day but there is an event later that afternoon that offers another important occasion to the cardinals and to their friends, family members, and members of the Roman Curia.

A two-hour slot – 4:30 to 6:30 pm – is set aside the afternoon of the consistory for what the Vatican calls “courtesy visits.” Each new cardinal is assigned a room (or part of a room) in the Apostolic Palace or a place in either the atrium or the main hall of the Paul VI Hall. Signs clearly indicate where guests can find the cardinal they want to meet and greet, and each cardinal is provided with a table, a chair if they wish to sit, some water and a potted plant or two that completes the atmosphere. Most cardinals have at their side their priest secretary who, in many cases, receives a visitor’s card if they have one and offers holy cards to visitors as a kind of souvenir of this red-letter day in the cardinal’s life.

I always look forward to these visits for a myriad of reasons, foremost of which is, of course, meeting the new cardinals as well as some of the faithful from their country. It is also an occasion to see friends from out of town who come to Rome for such important events and to see former colleagues and many friends of the Roman Curia with whom I worked for years.

There are receiving lines for each cardinal but they become, usually after only a few minutes, “bunches” of pilgrims, instead of lines. Men, women and children, but especially nuns, I have to say, vie to be the next person to meet, greet, hug or be blessed by the new cardinal. Bishops and cardinals also come to greet the new red hats but they automatically go to the head of the line (or bunch, as it may be)!

It was enormous fun this year to meet the cardinals from Tonga, Cape Verde, Thailand, Myanmar and Ethiopia – but especially the faithful who came to Rome with them on pilgrimage as they really increased the level of joy in the Paul VI Hall with their smiles, infectious laughter and singing.

In fact, I just posted a video I took of the faithful from Cape Verde and Tonga who sang for almost the entire time of the courtesy visit, The Cape Verdean and Tongan pilgrims  sat across from each other in the Paul VI Hall and, at times sang alternately and at other times seemed to compete with each other.

Friday morning as I was leaving my apartment to go to the Vatican, a sizeable group of Tonga faithful was walking by my house from their nearby hotel. They personified joy. I stopped them, we spoke briefly and I assured them I’d see them again Saturday during the courtesy visits.

Cardinal Mafi of Tonga was the first cardinal I met at the courtesy visits. He is not only the youngest member of the College of Cardinals, he is Tonga’s first ever cardinal.

My priority Saturday was to greet those cardinals from countries that had never had one before, the cardinals from lands where relations with the Church are perhaps troubled or the country itself has big political issues and also the cardinals from lands so distant they might not be visiting Rome as frequently as other members of the College of Cardinals.  All the new men, however, will be assigned as members of some Vatican congregation or pontifical council and will thus be in Rome at least a few times a year. All new cardinals will also have to take official possession of their titular church: some might remain in Rome these days to do so while most will return to the Eternal City at a future date.

Having media credentials allowed me to bypass the very long line of visitors waiting to be screened by security (we had our own brief check) so when I got inside the Paul VI Hall just after 4:30 there were few people waiting to see each cardinal. I immediately went to see Cardinal Mafi who was being interviewed by several television stations. When it was my turn, I held out my card and told him that, after many years of working at the Vatican, I was now the bureau chief in Rome for EWTN. His face lit up like a Christmas tree, he looked at my card, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Joan, we have just begun to receive EWTN in Tonga and are overjoyed.  It is wonderful to have such access and to have such a wonderful tool and school for our faith!”

Speaking English, he went on in that vein, thanking me and the entire EWTN family for what we do for the Church.

I then met Cardinal Charles Mauna Bo, SDB, of Yangoon, Myanmar (Burma), and he said almost the same thing. He thanked me and asked me to thank my EWTN colleagues for all we do for the Church, and also asked me to stay in touch with him. The Church in Myanmar is small but very vibrant, as I saw in the faithful who had come with Cardinal Bo – their enthusiasm mirrored the cardinal’s own, even as he faces challenges peculiar to the Church in Myanmar and some he has in common with the Universal Church.

As I left Cardinal Bo to go meet Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok, Thailand, I ran into an acquaintance, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay (Mumbai), who is a member of Pope Francis’ C9 or Council of Cardinals that advise the Holy Father.  We chatted only briefly before he too paid his respects on the new cardinals of Yangon and Bangkok. Cardinal Gracias emphasized what a wonderful day it had been for the Universal Church with the “new” faces from both the new and old worlds.

Cardinal Gracias:20150214_172350


Pilgrims at the courtesy visits:

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Faithful from Yangon and Bangkok:


Working my way through a big crowd of his fans and friends, I next met Cardinal Kovithavanij of Bangkok. He said he was greatly honored by the Holy Father but, more than that, his Church was honored when he was named a cardinal. A nation of almost 65 million people, Catholics are less than one-half of a percent.

I then visited, as you will see in the photos below, Cardinals Arlindo Gomes Furtado of Santiago de Cabo Verde, Archipelago of Cape Verde, Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon of Hanoi, Vietnam, Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente of Lisbon, Portugal and Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, Archbishop of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia.

I was taken aback when I met Cardinal Souraphiel because, as I was about to introduce myself, he smiled and said, “I know you, Joan’s Rome. I’m always watching you on EWTN.” He thanked me and the network for all we do for the Church and to explain and proclaim the faith.

The last cardinal I greeted was Cardinal John Atcherley Dew, archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand, but I totally forgot to take a photo.

There are many reasons to follow these prelates and all the new cardinals because, in naming them, Pope Francis truly did change the face of the College of Cardinals, going out to the peripheries, as he has said from Day One of his papacy, and selecting men from cultures that many of us in the West do not know well.

For the first time in the history of the Church, there are almost as many cardinals from outside Europe (109) as there are from Europe. And, for the first time, there are more non-European electors that European: as of now, only 57 of the 125 cardinal electors are European. Notably, however, 26 of those 57 are from Italy.

In toto, the College of Cardinals includes 5 continents (America is considered as one continent by the Vatican, whereas for many people, North America is a continent and South America is another, separate one), and 73 countries, 59 of which have cardinal electors.

Talking to the new Princes of the Church, so many from farflung lands, what surfaced was a vibrant faith, a strong sense of hope, great enthusiasm for the tasks ahead and a desire to learn from Pope Francis and to bring to the Holy Father and the Church insights coming from different cultures, some extraordinarily rich because they are ancient cultures, some rich because they are fairly new. Humility in service was a common denominator. And surprise! Surprise at learning, without advance warning, that Pope Francis had chosen them for the College of Cardinals.

Along with photos I took Saturday at the courtesy visits in the Paul VI Hall (I never did get to the Apostolic Palace to see the other five cardinals), I offer some biographical information on each of the cardinals whom I was able to meet and briefly speak with on Saturday. These bios are published by the Vatican. Click here for bios in English of all cardinal electors:


Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi was born on 19 December 1961 in Nuku’alofa on the island of Tongatapu in the diocese of Tonga. He studied philosophy and theology in the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji.

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He was ordained a priest on 29 June 1991.

Following priestly ordination, he served as parish priest in Ha’apai (1992-1994), and vicar general and parish priest in Nuku’alofa from 1995 to 1997. For two years, from 1998 to 1999, he studied psychology at the Loyola College, Baltimore, U.S.A., and upon returning to his homeland, served as parish priest in Houma (1999-2000), professor and formator at the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji and, from 2003, vice-rector of the same seminary


On 28 June 2007 he was appointed as coadjutor bishop of Tonga (Kingdom of Tonga) by Pope Benedict XVI.

From 2010 he has served as president of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific, and in this role he participated in the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family in October 2014.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 14 February 2015, of the Title of Santa Paola Romana.

Monday at noon, Pope Francis received King Tupou VI (Ahoeitu Unuakiotonga Tukuaho Tupou VI), Queen Nanasipau’aho and an entourage comprising the official Tonga delegation to the consistory.


Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., was born in Monhla Village, Shwebo District, Mandalay Division,  in the archdiocese of Mandalay on 29 October 1948.


He studied at “Nazareth” Salesian Aspirantate, Anisakan, in Pyin Oo Lwin from 1962 till 1976. He made his First Profession on May 24, 1970 and his Final Profession on March 10, 1976.


He was ordained to the priesthood of Salesians of Saint John Bosco, in Lashio, N.S.S. on 9 April, 1976.

Upon ordination, he was assigned as Parish Priest at Loihkam from 1976 to 1981, and in Lashio from 1981 to 1983. After serving as Parish Priest, from 1983 until 1985 he was posted at Anisakan as Formator.



He served as Apostolic Administrator in Lashio from 1985 to 1986 and as Apostolic Prefect from 1986 to 1990. When the prefecture was elevated to the status of diocese (7 July 1990), he was appointed as first bishop of the new diocese. He received Episcopal consecration on 16 December of the same year.

He was appointed as bishop of Pathein by Pope John Paul II on 13 March 1996.

On May 24, 2003, he was nominated Archbishop of Yangon and was installed on 7 June, 2003.

He served as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar from 2000 to 2006.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 14 February 2015, of the Title of Sant’Ireneo a Centocelle.


Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij was born on 27 June 1949 in Ban Rak in the archdiocese of Bangkok.


He studied in the seminary of St. Joseph in Sampran. Sent to Rome, he undertook studies in theology and philosophy at the Pontifical Urbanian University (1970-1976), residing at the Collegio Urbano.

With Cardinal Marc Ouellet:


He was ordained a priest on 11 July 1976 and incardinated in the archdiocese of Bangkok.


With family, friends and fans:


In the same year he served as parish vicar in the Nativity of Mary Church in Ban Pan; parish vicar in the Epiphany Church in Koh Vai from 1977-1979, and vice-rector of the St. Joseph in Sampran minor seminary from 1979 to 1981. From 1982 to 1983 he undertook specialist studies in spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He then returned to Thailand, where he spent six year as rector of the Holy Family intermediate seminary in Nakhon Ratchasima. He was rector of the Lux Mundi national major seminary from 1992 to 2000, and from 1989 to 1993 he served as under-secretary of the Episcopal Conference.

He was appointed as extraordinary professor at the major seminary of Sampran in 2001. He served as parish priest of the Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Hua Take from 2000 to 2003, and parish priest of the Cathedral and secretary of the presbyteral council of the archdiocese of Bangkok from 2003 to 2007.

He was appointed as bishop of Nakhon Sawan by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 March 2007, receiving Episcopal consecration on 2 June 2007.

He was appointed as metropolitan archbishop of Bangkok (Thailand) on 14 May 2009. He has served as vice-president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand since 2009.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 14 February 2015, of the Title of Santa Maria Addolorata.


Cardinal Arlindo Gomes Furtado was born in November 1949 in Santa Catarina, in the diocese of Santiago de Cabo Verde. He studied in his homeland and in Rome, at the Biblicum, where he obtained a licentiate in holy Scriptures.

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He was ordained a priest on 18 July 1976.

After priestly ordination he served as parish vicar (1976-1978), diocesan chancellor and bursar (1978-1984), and chaplain of the people of Cabo Verde in the Netherlands (1985-1986). He studied holy Scriptures in Rome from 1986 to 1990, and upon returning to his homeland, served as professor (1990-1996), vicar general and parish priest (1996-2003).

On 9 December 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed him as first bishop of the newly-erected diocese of Mindelo.

On 22 July 2009 he was appointed as bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde by Pope Benedict XVI.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 14 February 2015, of the Title of San Timoteo.


Cardinal Pierre Nguyên Văn Nhon was born on 1 April 1938 in Ðà Lat (Viêt Nam).


He studied in Viêt Nam and received priestly ordination on 21 December 1967.


He was appointed as coadjutor bishop of Ðà Lat on 11 October 1991 and received Episcopal consecration on 3 December 1991.

As coadjutor, he went on to become ordinary bishop of Ðà Lat on 23 March 1994.

In 2007 he was elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Viêt Nam, a post he held until 2013.

With Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo:


On 22 April 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as coadjutor of the Archdiocese of Hà Nôi. A few weeks later, on 13 May, he become archbishop of the same archdiocese following the resignation of Archbishop Joseph Ngô Quang Kiêt.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 14 February 2015, of the Title of San Tommaso Apostolo.


His Eminence Manuel Jose Macário do Nascimento Clemente was born in Torres Vedras, Patriarchate of Lisbon (Portugal) on 16 July 1948.


After obtaining a degree in general history from the University of Lisbon, he entered the Cristo Rei dos Olivais Patriarchal Seminary, where he received a doctorate in theology, specialising in historical theology at the Portuguese Catholic University.

On 29 June 1979 he was ordained a priest in the Patriarchate of Lisbon.

He served in the following roles in the Patriarchate: vice-rector and rector of the major seminary; lecturer in the Faculty of Theology of the Portuguese Catholic University; and member of the Cathedral Chapter, the presbyteral council and the pastoral council.

On 6 November 1999 he was appointed by the Holy Father John Paul II as titular bishop of Pinhel and auxiliary of Lisbon, and received Episcopal ordination on 22 January 2000.

On 22 February 2007 the Holy Father Benedict XVI appointed him as bishop of the diocese of Porto.

On 18 May 2013 Pope Francis appointed him as Patriarch of Lisbon.

On 19 June 2013 he was appointed as President of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, after having served as vice-president. Within the same Episcopal Conference he has served in the roles of President of the Episcopal Commission for Culture, Cultural Heritage and Social Communications.

He is the author of numerous publications and since 2012, member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 14 February 2015, of the Title of San Romano Martire.


Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel was born on 14 July 1948 in Tcheleleka, in the apostolic vicariate of Harar in central Ethiopia.

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In 1963 he entered the Guder minor seminary, entrusted to the Lazarists. He studied philosophy at the Makanissa major seminary.

He was ordained a priest in Addis Abeba on 4 July 1976.


In 1980 he was elected as delegate to the general assembly of Lazarists in Rome. During this period he obtained a degree in sociology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He returned to Addis Abeba in 1983. In 1990 he became Superior of the Lazarist house in Addis Abeba.

Blessing some pilgrims:


In 1992 he was appointed as Episcopal vicar for Kaffa and Illubabor.

With the erection of the apostolic prefecture of Jimma-Bonga on 10 June 1994 he became its first apostolic prefect.

On 7 November 1997 he was appointed as titular bishop of Bita and auxiliary of Addis Abeba,. He received Episcopal ordination on 25 January 1998.

On 16 June, as the metropolitan archiepiscopal see of Addis Abeba became vacant following the resignation of Cardinal Paulos Tzadua, he was appointed as administrator “sede vacante” of the same archieparchy.

On 7 June 1999 the Holy Father John Paul II appointed him as metropolitan archbishop of Addis Abeba (Ethopia).

He is President of the Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia and Eritrea (since 1999); President of the Council of the Ethiopian Church (since 1998) and, since July 2014, President of the A.E.C.E.A. (Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa).

In his role as President of the Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia and Eritrea, he participated in the recent Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family (October 2014).

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 14 February 2015, of the Title of San Romano Martire.



The C9, the Council of 9 Cardinals who are advisors to the Holy Father, are in the second of three days of meetings in the Santa Marta residence to continue discussions on the reform of the Roman Curia and other urgent matters that may have come up since their seventh meeting last fall.

The Council, a permanent body instituted by Pope Francis, is made up of the following members: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, secretary of State; Giuseppe Bertello (the only Italian and the only Curia member in the C8 as head of Vatican City State); Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa (the group’s only emeritus member); Oswald Gracias of Bombay; Reinhard Marx of Munich und Freising (recently nominated coordinator of the Council for the Economy made up of cardinals and lay financial experts); Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa; Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, George Pell (the former archbishop of Sydney who was recently nominated “Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy) and Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Maradiaga is also the group’s coordinator, while Albano’s Bishop Marcello Semeraro is the C9 secretary.

C9 Cardinals - ANSA

Topping the agenda during this eighth meeting of the C9, as it has most of the previous ones, is the reform of the Roman Curia, including a possible reduction in the number of pontifical councils (or amalgamating them into two new congregations), and a review of the Vatican media. Pope Francis has been present at all meetings.

Today, Tuesday, Fr Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, briefed journalists, and said that the first morning meeting was dedicated to the preparation of a presentation on the Curial reforms for a meeting of the full college of cardinals which will take place on Thursday and Friday this week. On Saturday the Pope will create 20 new cardinals as members of that College.

On Monday afternoon, said Fr. Lombardi, the C9 group held talks with Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, regarding the future of that office within the broader reform program. On Tuesday morning the group heard an interim report from Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Commission charged with the reorganisation of all the Vatican media offices. That 12-member Commission, headed by Britain’s Lord Patten, is expected to complete its work later this spring.


According to Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, the Holy See is following attentively the situations of crisis in various parts of the world, including the eastern regions of Ukraine. In the presence of an escalation of the conflict that has claimed many innocent victims, the Holy Father Francis has renewed his appeal for peace on several occasions. By these interventions, while inviting the faithful to pray for those who have been killed and injured as a result of the hostilities, the Pope also underlined the urgency of resuming negotiations as the only possible way out of the logic of mounting accusations and reactions.

Faced with differing interpretations of the Pope’s words, especially those of Wednesday February 4, I consider it useful to specify that he has always wished to address all the interested parties, trusting in the sincere efforts of each one to implement agreements reached by common consent and invoking the principle of international law, to which the Holy See has referred several times since the beginning of the crisis. As St. John Paul II often repeated, humanity must find the courage to substitute the right to force with the power of law.

The Holy Father joyfully awaits the Ad limina visit of the Ukrainian Episcopate, scheduled for the days 16-21 February. This will constitute a further occasion to meet those brother Bishops, to be directly informed on the situation of that dear country, to console the Church and those who suffer and to evaluate together paths for reconciliation and peace.


In a press conference Tuesday morning, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presented the “Homiletic Directory” drawn up by the congregation during the mandate of his predecessor, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera. The cardinal was accompanied by Archbishop Arthur Roche and Fr. Corrado Maggione, S.M.M., respectively secretary and under secretary of the Congregation.

“Often,” explained the cardinal, “for many faithful, it is precisely the homily, considered as good or bad, interesting or boring, that is the yardstick by which the entire celebration is judged. Certainly, the Mass is not the homily, but it represents a relevant moment for the purpose of participation in the holy Mysteries, that is, listening to the Word of God and the communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord.”

He said that, the aim of the Directory “is to respond to the need to improve the service of ordained ministers in liturgical preaching. He noted that during the 2005 Synod of Bishops, ordained ministers were asked to prepare their homilies carefully, and basing them on adequate knowledge of the Sacred Scripture. “This is the first fact to bear in mind,” he underlined: “that the homily is directly linked to the Sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospel, and is enlightened by them.”

During the same Synod, it was also requested that in the homily, “the great themes of the faith and the life of the Church should resound throughout the year,” in order to “help demonstrate the nexus connecting the message of the biblical readings with the doctrine of the faith as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

The bishops returned to this issue in the Synod on the Word of God, and Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation “Verbum domini., While repeating that preaching appropriately with reference to the Lectionary was “truly an art that must be cultivated,” the exhortation also indicated that it would be opportune to compile a directory on the homily, so that preachers might find help in preparing for the exercise of their ministry.

Cardinal Sarah continued: “The way was thus prepared and the Congregation initiated the project,” and he underscored how “Pope Francis reserves 25 points to this theme in his Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii gaudium’: 10 to the homily and 15 to its preparation.”

“The homily,” said the congregation prefect, “is a liturgical service reserved to the ordained minister, who is called upon by vocation to serve the Word of God according to the faith of the Church and not in a personalized fashion. It is not a mere discourse like any other, but rather a speech inspired by the Word of God that resounds in an assembly of believers, in the context of liturgical action, with a view to learning to put into practice the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Archbishop Roche said, “the homilist leads his brothers and sisters to savor and understand Sacred Scripture, opens their minds to thanksgiving for the wonders wrought by God, strengthens the faith of all present in that word which in the course of the celebration will become a sacrament by the power of the Holy Spirit, and, finally, prepares them for a fruitful reception of Communion and calls upon them to accept the demands of the Christian life.”

“Even if he is an entertaining speaker,” added Abp. Roche, “the homilist who does not bring about these effects will be a bad preacher. The good preacher, on the other hand, even if he is not the most gifted speaker, can do precisely these things: he can guide us to a better understanding of God’s revelation, he can open our hearts to give thanks to God, he can strengthen our faith, he can prepare us for a fruitful sacramental Communion with Christ, and he can effectively exhort us to live the Christian life in a genuine manner.

He concluded by noting that, “this text was presented to each of the Fathers of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and was reviewed and approved at the Ordinary Sessions of February 7 and May 20, 2014. It was then presented to Pope Francis, who approved the publication of the Homiletic Directory.”

He added that, while available now in English and Italian, “translations into the principal languages have been undertaken by this congregation, while translations into other languages remain the responsibility of the concerned Conferences of Bishops.” (added source: VIS)



Pope Francis, known for being fairly unpredictable in many matters, was true to that Sunday as he skirted the usual period of one month between the announcement of new cardinals and the consistory in which they are created by naming 20 new cardinals Sunday to be created in a consistory on February 14. He also went slightly over the ceiling of a maximum of 120 cardinal electors (those under 80), a ceiling created by Pope Paul VI in 1973, producing a few unexpected names and not naming some whose diocese has been traditionally a cardinalatial see. (photo from


The announcement of the consistory, but not the names of the new cardinals, was made on December 11.

At the first consistory of his papacy on February 22, 2014, Francis created 19 new cardinals (16 electors, 3 non-electors).

A very large crowd gathered Sunday in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus with Pope Francis, under sunny, blue skies and temperatures considerably warmer than previous days. Many of the pilgrims in the square were still on vacation over a long weekend as they prepare for Tuesday’s holiday, the feast of the Epiphany, and they heard the Pope make this announcement (bold is on original text):

“As was already announced, on February 14 next I will have the joy of holding a Concistory, during which I will name 15 new Cardinals who, coming from 14 countries from every continent, manifest the indissoluble links between the Church of Rome and the particular Churches present in the world.

“On Sunday February 15 I will preside at a solemn concelebration with the new Cardinals, while on February 12 and 13 I will hold a Consistory with all the Cardinals to reflect on the orientations and proposals for the reform of the Roman Curia.

“The new Cardinals are:

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

Archbishiop Manuel José Macario do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon (Portugal)

Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., of Addis Abeba (Ethiopia)

Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of Wellington (New Zealand)

Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli of Ancona-Osimo (Italy)

Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Văn Nhon of Hà Nôi (Viêt Nam)

Archbishop Alberto Suàrez Inda of Morelia (Mexico)

Archbishop Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., of Yangon (Myanmar)

Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok (Thailand)

Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento (Italy)

Archbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., of Montevideo (Uruguay)

Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Vallodolid (Spain)

Bishop José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán, O.A.R., of David (Panamá)

Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado, of Santiago de Cabo Verde (Archipelago of Cape Verde)

Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga (Island of Tonga)

“Additionally, I will join to the members of the College of Cardinals five archbishops and bishops emeriti who are distinguished for their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the Church. They represent so many bishops who, with the same pastoral solicitude, have given witness of love for Christ and for the people of God in particular Churches, in the Rome Curia, and in the diplomatic service of the Holy See.

“They are:

José de Jesús Pimiento Rodriguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Manizales

Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, Major Pro-Penitentiary Emeritus

Archbishop Karl-Joseph Rauber, Apostolic Nuncio

Luis Héctor Villaba, Archbishop Emeritus of Tucumán

Júlio Duarte Langa, Bishop Emeritus of Xai-Xai

“Let us pray for the new Cardinals, that, renewed in their love for Christ, they might be witnesses of His Gospel in the City of Rome and in the world, and with their pastoral experience they might support me more intensely in my apostolic service.”

For some fascinating statistics on the College of Cardinals (as of Saturday, January 3, 2015), click here:—statistiche.html


Father Federico Lombardi, Holy See Press Office director, published  some explanatory notes Sunday with information about the College of Cardinals and the cardinals-elect who were announced earlier in the morning during the Angelus by Pope Francis. (bold from Lombardi notes)

“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 Tafi 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).”




Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, announced Thursday that Pope Francis will create new cardinals on February 14, following the February 9-11 meeting of the C9, the council of cardinals who advise the Pope on the reform of the Roman Curia, and a two-day meeting on February 12 and 13 of the entire College of Cardinals who will look at matters relating to the reorganization of the Holy See.

If the Pope keeps to the maximum number of 120 cardinals under the age of 80 who are eligible to vote in a conclave, a rule established by Blessed Paul VI, he will be able to name 10 new cardinals. The College of Cardinals today has 208 members, of whom 112 are under thje age of 80. However, two cardinals will turn 80 before the February consistory, thus paving the path for 10 new cardinals. The names of new cardinals are usually revealed at either a Sunday Angelus or Wednesday general audience about a month before the day of their creation.

In his briefing on the work of the seventh meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals since Pope Francis established this body, Fr. Lombardi touched on the work at the center of the council’s discussions, saying this included the proceedings and comments made at the meeting of heads of Vatican dicasteries last November 24th.

In particular, Fr. Lombardi said the cardinals spoke about the ongoing project of reform of the Roman Curia, in particular, the reorganization, consolidation and probable merger of some of the pontifical councils. The cardinals also discussed the work of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, said Fr. Lombardi, noting that commission members will be expanded to a total of 18 before their next meeting so as to ensure a broad representation geographically and culturally.


In a Message to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and to the participants in the Fourth European Congress on Youth Pastoral Ministry, Pope Francis wrote: “Those of you who work in the field of youth pastoral ministry, carry out valuable work for the Church. The young need this service: both adults and other young people of mature faith who accompany them on their path, helping them to find the road that leads to Christ.”

The three-day congress was promoted by the pontifical council in collaboration with the CCEE, Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe. It began today in Rome on the theme: “A young Church, witness to the joy of the Gospel.”

The Holy Father added that, “This pastoral ministry consists of walking with the young, accompanying them personally in the complex, and at times difficult, contexts in which they are immersed. Youth pastoral ministry must engage with the questions posed by the youth of today, and from this starting point, initiate a real and honest dialogue to bring Christ into their lives. And a true dialogue in this sense can be achieved by those who experience a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, which then overflows into their relationships with their brethren.”

The Pope encouraged the participants in the congress never to tire of announcing the Gospel, with their life and their word, since “Europe needs to rediscover it!” He also noted that much remains to be done, saying much can be accomplished if those in youth ministries consider the current situation of young Europeans through the eyes of Christ. “He teaches us to see not only the challenges and problems, but also to recognize the many seeds of love and hope dispersed across the continent, that has given to the Church as great number of saints, many of whom were young. Let us not forget that we are given the task of sowing, but it is God Who makes these seeds grow.”


In a message to Manuel Pugal Vidal, minister for the environment of the Republic of Peru and president of the 20th Conference of States Party to the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change, Pope Francis spoke of his closeness and encouragement to conference organizers and participants “so that your work may be carried out during these days with an open and generous spirit.”

The two-day conference began Thursday in Lima, Peru.

The Holy Father highlighted the fact that the current debate affects all of humanity, in particular the poorest and future generations and it is therefore “a grave ethical and moral responsibility.”

“The consequences of environmental change,” he wrote, “which are already dramatically felt in many states, especially the islands of the Pacific, remind us of the grave consequences of mismanagement and inaction. The time for seeking global solutions is running out. We can find suitable solutions only if we act together and in agreement. There exists, however, a clear, definitive and unpostponable ethical imperative to act”.

The Pope emphasized that an “effective battle against global warming will be possible only through a responsible collective response that sets aside particular interests and behaviours and develops free from political and economic pressures. A collective response that is also capable of overcoming distrust and promoting a culture of solidarity, encounter and dialogue; capable of demonstrating our responsibility for protecting the planet and the human family.”

Francis concluded by expressing the hope that the conference and subsequent meetings on climate change will put into effect “a dialogue imbued with … the values of justice, respect and equality,” and give rise to fruitful decisions and initiatives, in the service of all humanity.