Pope looks far afield in naming 17 new cardinals

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VATICAN CITY — Choosing new members of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis once again looked to countries and particularly to dioceses that were not and never had been represented in the body that advises the pope and bears responsibility for electing his successor.

Announcing the names of 17 cardinals he will create Nov. 19, Pope Francis chose men from 14 nations, which will bring the total number of countries represented in the College of Cardinals to 79. When he announced the names Oct. 9, the college had members from 72 countries. Three Americans were included in the list: Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago; Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life; and Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis.

The cardinal electors — the prelates under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope — currently represent 57 nations; after the consistory to create new cardinals, the group will bring together men from 60 countries.

The 115 cardinal electors who entered the conclave in 2013 that elected Pope Francis had come from 48 countries. Eight years earlier, the group that elected now-retired Pope Benedict XVI came from 53 nations.

Under Pope Francis, the idea that some large archdioceses are always led by a cardinal is fading, but is not altogether gone. His latest choices included the archbishops of Chicago, Malines-Brussels and Madrid. But other traditional cardinal sees like Venice and Turin in Italy or Baltimore and Philadelphia in the United States were not included in the pope's latest picks.

The 2016 consistory will be the third called by Pope Francis to create new cardinals and, once again, members of the Roman Curia received just a nod. Irish-born U.S. Bishop Farrell, the prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life, is the only member of the Curia chosen this time. Archbishop Mario Zenari, the pope's nuncio to Syria, also was tapped, but the pope made it clear that the Italian archbishop would remain in war-torn Syria.

After the consistory, the electors named cardinals by Pope Benedict will account for just over 46 percent of the total; just over 36 percent will have been named by Pope Francis; and just over 17 percent will be cardinals created by St. John Paul II.

Fifty-two percent of the members of the conclave that elected Pope Francis were European. In early October, 46.8 percent of the cardinal electors were from Europe, and after the consistory the group will make up 44.6 percent of the electors. With Cardinal-designate Zenari, the Italians will account for 20.6 percent of the electors after Nov. 19.

The second-largest group is and will be from North and South America. Currently 30 of the 111 electors, or 27 percent, are from the Americas. The percentage will grow to 28 percent when the new cardinals are inducted.

After Nov. 19, the percentage of African electors will rise to 12.4 percent from its current 11.7 percent; the percentage from Asia will decline slightly to 11.5 percent from its current 11.7 percent; and the group from Oceania — Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific — will rise to 3.3 percent from its current 2.7 percent.

With 25 electors after the consistory, Italy will remain the nation with the most cardinals by far. The United States will be second with 10 electors. France and Brazil each will have five electors. Spain, Poland, Mexico and India each will have four.

At 49, Cardinal-designate Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, will become the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. Only one other member of the body — Cardinal Soane Mafi of Tonga, 54 — was born in the 1960s.

Announcing the names of the new cardinals Oct. 9, Pope Francis said, "Their coming from 11 nations expresses the universality of the Church that proclaims and witnesses the good news of God's mercy in every corner of the earth."

On Nov. 20, the day after the consistory, they will join Pope Francis and other cardinals in celebrating the feast of Christ the King and closing the Year of Mercy, the pope said.

The last of the cardinals he named was Albanian Father Ernest Simoni, a priest of the Archdiocese of Shkodre-Pult, who will turn 88 Oct. 18. He had moved Pope Francis to tears in 2014 when he spoke about his 30 years in prison or forced labor under Albania's militant atheistic regime for refusing to denounce the Church. 

>> Here is the list of new cardinals in the order in which Pope Francis announced them:

• Archbishop Zenari, an Italian who is 70 years old.

• Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, 49.

• Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid, 71.

• Archbishop Sergio da Rocha of Brasilia, Brazil, who will be 57 Oct. 21.

• Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, 67.

• Archbishop Patrick D'Rozario of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 73.

• Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela, 72.

• Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, 69.

• Archbishop Maurice Piat of Port-Louis, Mauritius, 75.

• Bishop Kevin J. Farrell prefect of the Vatican office for laity, family and life, 69.

• Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, 66.

• Archbishop John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 59.

• Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis, 64.

• Retired Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 84.

• Retired Archbishop Renato Corti of Novara, Italy, 80.

• Retired Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai of Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho, 87.

• Father Ernest Simoni, a priest of the Archdiocese of Shkodre-Pult, Albania, 87. 

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