Features > Fresh faces at Pope’s side: Francis has torn up the rule book on selection of cardinals

17 November 2016 | by Christopher Lamb

Fresh faces at Pope’s side: Francis has torn up the rule book on selection of cardinals


Today the Pope will hand red hats to 17 new cardinals. Four are aged over 80; the other 13 are eligible to vote for his successor in a conclave

While the new cardinals still wear the famous red biretta they are no longer in any real sense “Princes of the Church”. Francis has up-ended the old system whereby an appointment to a certain Vatican post or elevatation to a particularly prestigious diocese almost guaranteed entry into one of the world’s most exclusive clubs.

Instead, he has chosen men who are humble pastors, willing if necessary to put their necks on the line for their flock. Three of them – Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Patrick D’Rozario and John Ribat – come from countries that have never had a cardinal eligible to vote for the next pope: Central African Republic, Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea. What these cardinals have in common is the respect they enjoy from their fellow bishops: most of them are the elected leaders of their own country’s hierarchies. They also share Francis’ commitment to help the most vulnerable and marginalised, protect the environment and “bind up” the world’s wounds.


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