Vatican, 30 September, 2023 / 8:35 pm (ACI Africa).
Pope Francis created 21 new cardinals from across the world at a Saturday morning consistory in St. Peter’s Square, reflecting on how the geographic expansion of the Church’s leadership represents a fulfillment of the promise of Pentecost.
“You new Cardinals have come from different parts of the world, and the same Spirit that made the evangelization of your peoples fruitful now renews in you your vocation and mission in and for the Church,” the pope told the new cardinals in his homily for the event, 18 of whom are under the age 80, and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.
The Sept. 30 consistory, which saw cardinals created from 15 different countries, was in continuity with Francis’s steady geographic diversification of the College of Cardinals, carried out over the nine consistories he has held during his 10-year pontificate.
The new red hats include Cardinal Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla of Juba, the first-ever cardinal from South Sudan. Two other African prelates — Cardinal Stephen Brislin from Cape Town, South Africa and Cardinal Protase Rugambwa of Tabora, Tanzania — were also elevated. The total percentage of cardinal electors from Africa is now 14%, a rise of 5% since 2013.
The Pope also created cardinals representing Catholic communities in non-majority Christian countries: Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Stephen Chow of Hong Kong, and Cardinal Sebastian Francis of Penang, Malaysia. In total, 16% of all cardinal-electors are now from Asia, compared to 9% before Francis’s pontificate.