Pope Francis’ fourth Consistory, in the four years of his pontificate, and following in the wake of the three Popes before him – called on February 22 2014 on February 14 2015 and on November 19 2016 – promises to be, yet again, not a lifetime achievement award, a prerogative of more prestigious cardinalships, but rather the fruit of a choice based on the evaluation of the comprehensive service to the portion of the Church assigned to each chosen candidate. In the Consistory of next June 28 – announced by surprise during the Regina Coeli of past May 21 – the Pope will create 5 new cardinals, all of whom are electors.
Thus in the past four years Pope Francis has created a total of 60 new Cardinals – including those with the right of vote in a Conclave. The College of Cardinals is currently formed by 225 members, 121 of whom are Cardinal electors, and 104 non-electors (figures updated to June 19 2017).
The international component is ever greater: the Fourth Consistory of the first Latin American Pope sees over 80 nations represented in the Sacred College. Moreover, it’s the first Consistory of Pope Francis without the creation of Cardinals over-80.
Two from Europe, one from Latin America, one from Africa, one from Asia.
The first public event attended by the new Cardinals will be the co-celebration, on June 29, of the Mass presided over by the Holy Father for the solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
Latin America. Among the new Cardinals, Gregorio Rosa Chavez, 75, auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, stands out for the exceptional nature of the procedure followed by the Pope. Bishop Chavez is a childhood friend and one of the closest collaborators of the late bishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, killed in 1980, proclaimed Blessed by Bergoglio in 2015, who authorized the recognition of his martyrdom. Pope Francis will proclaim him Cardinal despite the fact that he is an auxiliary bishop. Mons. Chávez was born in Sociedad on September 3 1942. He was ordained a priest on January 24 1970 at San Miguel’s Cathedral, in Salvador, where he served as parish priest in the years 1970 – 1973, and as diocesan Director of social media, spiritual assistant of various associations and movements, rector of the Central Seminary in San Salvador. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of San Salvador on July 3 1982. He is currently parish priest of the San Francisco Church in San Salvador, and president of Caritas for Latin America and the Caribbean and of the national Caritas.
Africa and Asia. The exception made for Rosa Chavez was already grated in the Consistory of 2016 to a “simple” priest, Fr Ernest Simoni, tortured by the atheist regime of Tirana, and to Dieudonné Nzapalainga, archbishop of a peripheral seat, that of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, where the Pope decided to open the First Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy. Similarly, two new cardinals come from Africa and Asia, from Mali and Laos. Jean Zerbo, archbishop of Bamako, was born in Segou on December 27 1943, where he was ordained a priest on July 10 1971. Since 1982 and for a few years he served as parish priest in Markala, and as a teacher at the Major Seminary of Bamako. On June 27 1998 he was appointed auxiliary archbishop of the diocese of Bamako. He played an active role in the peace talks in Mali. Laos is the homeland of Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, born April 8 1944 in Laos. His priestly ordination took place on November 5 1972. He founded “the school of Catechists” and the visits to mountain villages. In 1975 he was appointed parish priest and pro-vicar of the apostolic vicar of Vientiane. On 30 October he was appointed as apostolic vicar of Pakse and received Episcopal consecration on 22 April 2001. On 2 February 2017, he was appointed as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of Vientiane.
Europe. When he was consecrated bishop of Stockholm in 1998, Monsignor Anders Arborelius became the first catholic bishop of Sweden since the time of the Lutheran Reformation. He will thus become the first Cardinal of Sweden, also thanks to the dialogue certified by Francis during the apostolic visit of past October 31 to participate in the celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Mons. Arborelius was born in Sorengo on 24 September 1949. He converted to Catholicism at the age of 20. In 1971 he entered the Order of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers. On 8 September 1979 he was ordained a priest in Malmö. On 29 December 1998 he was consecrated a bishop at the Catholic cathedral of Stockholm. From 2005 to 2015 he was president of the Episcopal Conference of Scandinavia, while in 2015 he was elected vice-president.
The second European cardinal is Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona, born in Cretas on April 21 1946. He was ordained priest on September 20 1970. In the years 1990-1996 he served as a coadjutor and parish priest between 1990 and 1996, and as auxiliary bishop of Zaragoza. He was a missionary in Zaire for one year.