The Pope gathers the cardinals in a consistory with the air of a conclave

The Pope greets Spaniard Fernando Vérgez, president of the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City. / AFP

Francis appoints 20 new cardinals, including a Spaniard, in a ceremony that begins four days that can mark the future of the Church

DARIO MINOR Correspondent. Rome

With the consistory that he presided over this Saturday, in which he created 20 new cardinals, including the Spaniard Fernando Vérgez, president of the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City, Pope Francis began four days of important events that they can mark the future of the Catholic Church in the coming years. The first was the massive ceremony held in the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican with which the number of members of the College of Cardinals was raised to 226, of which 132 are under 80 years of age, and therefore, could participate in a possible conclave to elect a new Pontiff.

In these almost ten years of pontificate, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has appointed 112 cardinals, thus shaping the assembly that will have to elect his successor. They are a large majority compared to the living voters who received the cardinal's cap from John Paul II (11) and Benedict XVI (38). With the eight consistories that he has presided over, none of which had taken place in August until now, the Argentine Pontiff has also imposed a new geographical balance in the College of Cardinals: Europeans have reduced their weight although they continue to be the majority (40%), while the representatives of small or minority Churches based in Asia and Africa increase.

This is what has happened with some of the new cardinals, such as the Indian Filipe Neri António Sebastião do Rosário Ferrão, Archbishop of Goa and Damão; the Salesian Virgilio do Carmo da Silva, Archbishop of Dili and first cardinal in the history of East Timor; and Giorgio Marengo, Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia). This 48-year-old missionary is the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. They also received the biretta and the ring that identifies the so-called ecclesiastical "princes of the Church" of Singapore, Nigeria, South Korea, Paraguay, Colombia and Brazil, among other countries. On the other hand, the Ghanaian Richard Kuuia Baawobr, bishop of Wa, was unable to participate in the ceremony, who had to be hospitalized after his arrival in Rome due to a heart problem.

The new cardinals were invited by Francis to accompany him on the brief trip he will make this Sunday to L'Aquila, the city in central Italy where he will visit the tomb of Celestine V, a Pope who went down in history for resigning from the pontificate at the end of the thirteenth century. The announcement of this displacement last spring, together with the serious mobility problems that Bergoglio was suffering at the time, led to the multiplication of rumors in the Vatican about a supposed intention to leave the pontifical throne. Contributing to these speculations was the fact that Benedict XVI also visited the tomb of Celestine V in 2009, four years before he resigned from the pontificate.

Francisco himself has been in charge of denying the rumors about his hypothetical desire to shortly follow in the footsteps of his predecessor. He has acknowledged that, "for the moment", he has no intention of becoming Pope Emeritus, also clarifying that if at any time he feels "that the Lord asks him" to resign, he would not stay and live in the Vatican. The ecclesiastical analyzes of his intention to prepare the ground for a new phase in the Catholic Church have also been promoted by the meeting convened on Monday and Tuesday in the Vatican, in which nearly 200 cardinals, Eastern patriarchs and superiors of the Secretariat of State, the key body in the government of the Holy See.

The official objective of the meeting is to present the apostolic constitution 'Praedicate Evangelium', which entered into force at the beginning of last June and with which the Pope culminated his reorganization of the Roman Curia. In these two days of meetings, the reform of Vatican finances and the steps forward taken against pederasty will also be discussed, two of the biggest headaches for the Church in recent decades, although no one is unaware that the appointment it will serve so that the faces can be seen and those in charge of electing a new Pontiff can speak freely. These days in Rome there will also be meetings in the houses of cardinals and the lunches and dinners of cardinals in discreet restaurants in the Vatican area, where the winds of a future conclave seem to be blowing.

Fernando Vergez. / AFP

Spain, third 'power' of the College of Cardinals

With the appointment as cardinal of Fernando Vérgez, a member of the Legionaries of Christ and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State, which effectively makes him the 'mayor' of the smallest state in the world, Spain has with 12 cardinals, of which half could participate in a possible conclave for not having exceeded 80 years of age. Three other cardinals at the head of the dioceses of Chile, Morocco and Panama are also of Spanish origin. Our country is the third 'power' of the College of Cardinals behind Italy (48) and the United States (16). It is striking that in each and every one of the eight consistories presided over by Jorge Mario Bergoglio there has been at least one Spanish ecclesiastic who received the cardinal's hat and ring.

At the ceremony this Saturday, the Government of Pedro Sánchez was represented by the Minister of the Presidency Félix Bolaños, in charge of relations between the Church and the State, and by the ambassador to the Holy See, Isabel Celaá from Bilbao. Before the celebration of the consistory, Vérgez considered that the abundant presence of Spaniards in the College of Cardinals is "a recognition of the vitality of the Church in Spain and the role it has had and has in evangelization." Born in Salamanca 77 years ago, this religious explained that his creation as a cardinal does not imply any "prize", since it is "a call to service" to "become an increasingly close collaborator of the Pope". Precisely during the consistory, Francis invited the new cardinals to "love the Church" treating with the same interest both "the big questions and the smaller ones", asking them in particular not to forget "the poor or the migrants" .

Source link