L-R: Jean Zerbo, Juan Omella, Anders Arborelius, José Chávez & Louis-Marie Mangkhanekhoun

L-R: Jean Zerbo, Juan Omella, Anders Arborelius, José Chávez & Louis-Marie Mangkhanekhoun

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, announced during his Sunday Regina Coeli address, that he will hold a consistory on June 28 to create five new cardinals, the Catholic News Agency (CAN) has reported.

According  to the report, the new cardinals are – Archbishop Jean Zerbo, (Bamako, Mali);  Archbishop Juan José Omella (Barcelona, Spain); Bishop Anders Arborelius (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).

Speaking on the consistory, the Pope said, “Brothers and sisters, I wish to announce to you that on Wednesday, June 28, I will hold a consistory for the nomination of five new cardinals.

“Their origin from different parts of the world manifests the catholicity of the Church, spread throughout the earth.”

The report said that on June 29, the day after the consistory, which is also the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the new cardinals will concelebrate Mass with the Holy Father at the St. Peter’s Basilica. The Mass will be celebrated alongside the new metropolitan archbishops who were named in the previous year and will traditionally receive the pallium (woollen vestment conferred by the Pope on an archbishop) from the Pope on that day.

“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,” the report said, adding that, “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.”

CNA also reported that, “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.”

The new cardinals who are all under 80 years are eligible to vote in the next conclave and will join the 17 other prelates who got a red hat during Francis’ most recent consistory, held on November 19, 2016, to coincide with the close of the Jubilee of Mercy, CNA reported.

The report said, “On that occasion, the Pope named 13 new cardinals of voting age, including three Americans, and five who had already passed the voting age of 80, making them ineligible to vote in the next conclave.”

Those eligible to vote include Archbishop Mario Zenari, who is and will remain apostolic nuncio to the “beloved and martyred” Syria; Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga (Bangui); Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra (Madrid); Archbishop Sergio da Rocha (Brazil); Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario (Dakha, Bangladesh); Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo (Merida, Venezuela); Archbishop Joseph de Kesel (Malines Brussels); Bishop Maurice Piat (Port-Louis, Mauritius Island); Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes (Tlalnepantla, Mexico) and Archbishop John Ribat (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea).

Fr Ernest Simoni, an Albanian priest from the diocese of Shkodra, whose testimony of the persecution of the Albanian Church under the communist regime was also nominated by the Pope, the report said.

The report also informed that non-voters elevated were – Anthony Soter Fernandez, Archbishop Emeritus (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia); Renato Corti, Archbishop Emeritus (Novara) and Sebastian Koto Khoarai, O.M.I, Bishop Emeritus (Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho).


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