“Great joy”: SECAM on Reappointment of President to Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo reappointed to Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals. Credit: ACI Africa

The news of the reappointment of the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has been “received with great joy”, the Secretary General of the continental Symposium of Catholic Bishops in Africa has said.

In a Wednesday, March 7 “Congratulatory Message” shared with ACI Africa, Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior says that members of SECAM and the people of God in Africa are “proud” to have Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo as “member of this Papal council”.

The reappointment of the Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the Council of Cardinals that is tasked with assisting the Holy Father “in the governance of the universal Church” was published by the Holy See Press office Wednesday, March 7. 

The group of Cardinal advisers, also referred to as the C9 for its nine members, was established by Pope Francis one month after his election in March 2013 to advise him on the reform of the Roman Curia, particularly the new Apostolic Constitution, Praedicate evangelium (“Preach the Gospel”) published in March 2022.

“SECAM and the entire Church in Africa have received with great joy the news of the renewal of the mandate of His Eminence, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo,” SECAM Secretary General says about the Congolese Cardinal who has been a member of the Papal Council since his  appointment in October 2020


Fr. Simbine adds, “Africa congratulates you, your Eminence, and assures you of continued spiritual and moral support in order to accomplish your noble mission efficiently.”

Cardinal Ambongo who was confirmed SECAM President  following the SECAM Standing Committee members’ meeting that ended on February 17 is the second Congolese Cardinal to serve in the Council of Cardinals. 

His predecessor in Kinshasa Archdiocese, the late Lawrence Cardinal Monsengwo, was a member of the Council of Cardinals from April 2013, when it was established, to October 2018 when he retired as the Local Ordinary of Kinshasa.

Born in 1960, Cardinal Ambongo took his final vows in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (O.F.M Cap) in 1987 and was ordained a Priest of the same order the following year.

He served as a Priest for 16 years before his appointment as Bishop of Bokungu-Ikela Diocese. In November 2016, he was appointed the Archbishop of Mbandaka-Bikoro Archdiocese, and in February 2018, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Kinshasa, and succeeded Cardinal Monsengwo on 25 November 2018.

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He was made Cardinal-Priest of San Gabriele Arcangelo all’Acqua Traversa at the October 2019 consistory.

The Council of Cardinals was created to advise the Pope on the governance of the Universal Church, drawing on the cardinals’ deep local experience.

The establishment of the Council of Cardinals was announced by Pope Francis on 13 April 2013, a month after his election as Pope. The Council was formally established on September 28 of the same year.

Here is the list of the other members of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals (C9) in 2023, with new members in bold:

Sérgio Cardinal da Rocha, 63, Archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, since 2020, Cardinal since 2016. Pope Francis hand-picked him as one of three Papal appointees to the Synod of Bishops’ Council following the synod on the family in 2015.


Jean-Claude Cardinal Hollerich, 64, Archbishop of Luxembourg since 2011, Cardinal since 2019. Cardinal Hollerich made his perpetual vows as a Jesuit in Tokyo, where he served as a chaplain of a German Parish. He is currently the President of the European Bishops’ Commission.

Gérald Cardinal C. Lacroix, 65, Archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada since 2011, Cardinal since 2014. He spent eight years as a missionary Priest in Colombia with the Pius X Secular Institute and served as Director General of the institute for nearly 10 years.

Juan José Cardinal Omella Omella, 76, Archbishop of Barcelona since 2015, Cardinal since 2017. He has served as the President of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference since 2020.

Fernando Cardinal Vérgez Alzaga, 78, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State since 2021, Cardinal since 2022. Originally from Spain, Cardinal Vérgez has served in the Roman Curia since 1972 and is the first active member of the Legionaries of Christ to become a Cardinal.

Pietro Cardinal Parolin, 68, Vatican Secretary of State since 2013, Cardinal since 2014. Before he became the Vatican’s top diplomat, Cardinal Parolin served as the Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela.

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Oswald Cardinal Gracias, 78, Archbishop of Bombay, India, Cardinal since 2007. He led the federation of Asian Catholic Bishops’ Conferences from 2010 to 2019. Original member of the Council of Cardinals.

Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, 78, Archbishop of Boston since 2003, Cardinal since 2006. He is a professed member of the Franciscan Capuchin order and is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

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