Before I go to the report about the five new cardinals named today by Pope Francis, I have another piece of news about a late cardinal known by many of us who worked in the Roman Curia when he headed a pontifical council: The mortal remains of Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, former president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and archbishop emeritus of Medellín, Colombia, who died in Rome nine years ago, were transferred to Colombia, the country of his birth, at the request of Pope Francis to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The cardinal’s body arrived on Monday May 15, 2017. Archbishop Ricardo Tobon Restrepo of Medellín celebrated the liturgical ceremony of the reception of the body. The late cardinal was buried in the Crypt of the Archbishops in the metropolitan cathedral.


In a surprise announcement after praying the Regina Coeli this afternoon, Pope Francis said he would hold a consistory to create new cardinals on June 28, naming five bishops and archbishops from Mali, Laos, Sweden, Spain and El Salvador, once again going to the “periphery” as well as to lands where Catholics are a minority,

The future cardinals are Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali; Archbishop Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona, Spain; Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden; Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos; and Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez in San Salvador, El Salvador.

With the five new cardinals, the College of Cardinals will total 227, 121 of whom are cardinal electors, that is, under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.

A CNA/EWTN report by Elise Harris notes that, during his Regina Coeli address Sunday, Pope Francis announced to pilgrims that he will be holding a June 28 consistory to create 5 new cardinals he said represent the “catholicity” of the Church.

“Brothers and sisters, I wish to announce to you that Wednesday, June 28, I will hold a consistory for the nomination of 5 new cardinals,” the Pope said May 21, adding that “their origin from different parts of the world manifests the catholicity of the Church, spread throughout the earth.”

The day after the consistory, on the June 29 Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the new cardinals will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peters Basilica alongside the new metropolitan archbishops named during the previous year, who traditionally receive the pallium from the Pope on that day.

The five new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis are: Archbishop Jean Zerbo, of Bamako, Mali; Archbishop Juan José Omella of Barcelona, Spain; Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden; Bishop José Gregorio Rosa Chávez, auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, El Salvador and Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Pakse, Laos and Apostolic Administrator of Vientiane.

True to Francis’ style, the new appointments represent not only the weight key European dioceses such as Stockholm carry, but also the Pope’s acute attention to the peripheries.

A key example of this is the appointment of a cardinal to communist Laos. In 2015 Pope Francis advanced the causes of canonization of 12 potential saints, two of whom were martyred by communist revolutionaries in Laos in 1960.

The Pathet Lao defeated the royalist forces in 1975, and Laos has been a communist state ever since. Foreign missionaries were expelled or fled that year, and now fewer than two percent of Laotians are Christian.

Also noteworthy is his appointment of San Salvador’s auxiliary bishop, marking the first time he has tapped an auxiliary as cardinal. Bishop Chávez was chosen over his Archbishop, Jose Luis Escobar Alas, for the red hat, showing that Francis, as seen in his previous appointments, is willing to skip over “cardinal sees.”

San Salvador is also the diocese Bl. Oscar Romero led before being shot during Mass in 1980. He was recognized as a martyr and beatified in 2015. Chávez is known to have been a close collaborator of Romero before the archbishop’s death.

Rumors have been going around that Romero will be canonized sometime this year, however, so far there has been no confirmation.

All of the new cardinals are under 80, and therefore eligible to vote in the next conclave.