On those new cardinals . . .

Theologian  Colin Kerr writes about one of the new “appointments” at the Society of Canadian Catholic Bloggers.   

Yaren, Nauru – In his drive to widen the cultural profile of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis is determined to appoint newly ordained, Paul-James Waqa, of the tiny island nation of Nauru.

Fr. Waqa is the first native Nauran to be ordained to the priesthood, whose Catholic population is just slightly higher than that of the Vatican.

“Truly this is the papacy of firsts,” remarked Vatican-watcher and WSJ correspondent, Henry Lacey. “The second smallest nation state in the world will be sending its native son to the smallest nation state in the world, the Vatican.”

Although the young Nauran has not even been a priest for a full year yet, Vatican insiders have indicated that Pope Francis was eager to have the South Pacific better represented.


On a more serious note, at Crux John Allen Jr. reflects on some of the possible repercussions of appointing cardinals from small, out-of-the-way dioceses. 

Obviously, the agenda here is about fresh blood and reaching out to places that don’t usually have a voice. However, there are other possible consequences to consider of bypassing the usual suspects.

According to a 2007 study by the National Conference of State Legislatures, term limits have weakened legislatures by depriving them of veteran leadership, and correspondingly strengthened the hands of three other actors: lobbyists, the executive branch, and unelected bureaucrats.


Any comparison between the Vatican and an American state house is destined to be inexact, but there are some parallels worth considering.


Prelates who have no Vatican experience, who don’t speak Italian, and who don’t themselves have the experience of running a large and complex ecclesiastical operation, may feel a natural tendency to defer to the old hands — generally meaning the same Vatican mandarins whom Francis recently excoriated for suffering from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and the “terrorism of gossip.”


There’s also institutional psychology to consider.

Vatican insiders will tell you that when the cardinal of, say, Chicago, or Cologne, or Milan, shows up in their offices, he’s taken seriously indeed. Those are all places where a reigning cardinal presides over an infrastructure and a payroll that are actually much larger than the Vatican’s, where he usually enjoys a high media profile and perceived political clout.

It’s not clear that the cardinal of Tonga or Cape Verde will have quite the same muscle, at least right out of the gate.

The bottom line is that Francis may run the risk of bolstering the old guard rather than cutting it down to size.



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to On those new cardinals . . .

  1. Rev22:17 says:


    From your first quotation: Yaren, Nauru – In his drive to widen the cultural profile of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis is determined to appoint newly ordained, Paul-James Waqa, of the tiny island nation of Nauru.

    This is either a hoax or a parody. Here is the actual list of the new cardinals from the Vatican Information Service (VIS) press release announcing the nominees.

    The new cardinal electors are:

    – Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, titular of Sagona, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;

    – Patriarch Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente of Lisbon, Portugal;

    – Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia;

    – Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of Wellington, New Zealand;

    – Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli of Ancona-Osimo, Italy;

    – Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon of Ha Noi, Vietnam;

    – Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia, Mexico;

    – Archbishop Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., of Yangon, Myanmar;

    – Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok, Thailand;

    – Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento, Italy;

    – Archbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., of Montevideo, Uruguay;

    – Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Valladolid, Spain;

    – Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan, O.A.R., of David, Panama;

    – Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado of Santiago de Cabo Verde, Cape Verde;

    – Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga, Tonga.

    The five non-electors are:

    – Archbishop Jose de Jesus Pimiento Rodriguez, emeritus of Manizales, Colombia;

    – Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, pro-major penitentiary emeritus, Italy;

    – Archbishop Karl-Joseph Rauber, apostolic nuncio, Germany;

    – Archbishop Luis Hector Villalba, emeritus of Tucuman, Argentina;

    – Bishop Julio Duarte Langa, emeritus of Xai-Xai, Mozambique.

    Everybody on the list is already a bishop, and there is nobody named Paul-James Waqa. A separate explanatory note issued by the director of the Vatican’s press office indicated that Bishop Mafi of Tonga, who was born in 1961, will become the youngest member of the college.


  2. Macy says:

    The God of Surprises would have named six cardinals from the United States. Just sayin’ 😉

    • Rev22:17 says:


      Actually, I’m surprised that Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia are not on the list.


      • Foolishness says:

        All worthy of a red hat. None among them would like to change the catechism so as to deny that certain things are intrinsically evil.

      • Rev22:17 says:


        You wrote: All worthy of a red hat.

        Yes, I agree completely!

        You continued: None among them would like to change the catechism so as to deny that certain things are intrinsically evil.


        But one need not change the catechism to approach situations in a manner that might be more effective from a pastoral perspective. The adoption of a simpler and more efficient process for granting decrees of nullity, for example, would not change the catechism in any way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s