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Pope strengthens Europe’s presence in College of Cardinals


Shutterstock | giulio napolitano

I.Media - published on 07/12/23

While his previous choices decreased European influence in favor of the "peripheries," the new list restores it slightly.

Nearly 45% of the 19 new cardinal electors the Pope has named are Europeans, a statistic that is far from insignificant given that the college of electors was until now made up of just 38% cardinals from the Old Continent. Since 2013, Pope Francis has considerably reduced the weight of Europe in the college that elects the pope; they made up 52% in the 2013 conclave. However, with this consistory he is restoring some of Europe’s influence. It should be noted, however, that two of the cardinals are current apostolic nuncios, including one in the United States.

Pope Francis has included two Frenchmen in his list, bringing to six the number of cardinal electors from France. Spain is also gaining two cardinals and now will have eight electors. Portugal and Poland are adding one cardinal each, bringing their total to four electors. As for Italy, only one prelate is becoming a new cardinal elector, in the person of the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, Claudio Gugerotti. The new cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, no longer counts as Italian. As a result, Italy’s weight in the College of Cardinals will continue to decline.

Bishop François-Xavier Bustillo, a French Franciscan

François-Xavier Bustillo was a simple Franciscan when Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Ajaccio in Corsica on May 11, 2021. The 54-year-old Frenchman of Spanish origin was born in 1968 in Pamplona, Navarre, a few kilometers from the French border. After joining the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, he left to study in Padua (Italy), the city of St. Anthony. After a spell at the Catholic Institute of Toulouse, and having observed the de-Christianization at work in France, he chose France as his missionary homeland. He was ordained a priest in 1994 in the Diocese of Narbonne-Carcassonne.

Frère François Bustillo, évêque d’Ajaccio
Bishop François Bustillo

Vicar, then parish priest of St. Bonaventure parish in Narbonne between 1994 and 2018, he was also a member of his diocese’s presbyteral council from 2005 to 2007. He was the provincial custodian of the Conventual Franciscans of France-Belgium between 2006 and 2018. In 2018, he became custodian of the Franciscan convent of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Lourdes. He was also the episcopal delegate for the protection of minors and vulnerable persons in this diocese. Following his appointment to Ajaccio, he was ordained bishop on June 13, 2021.

He is particularly interested in evangelization, and is the author of a book in French on the crisis in priestly vocations. On April 14, 2022, at the end of the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis offered his book — published in Italian by the Vatican’s own publishing house — as a gift to the priests of Rome.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, a French cardinal nuncio

He may be old enough to retire — apostolic nuncios can retire at 70 — but Archbishop Christophe Pierre is still on a mission. He currently holds the prestigious and strategic position of nuncio to the United States. At 77, the native of Rennes is about to receive the cardinal’s biretta, the famous square red hat worn by cardinals. It’s a mark of confidence and esteem from the Argentine Pontiff for this diplomat who in 2016 took over in the United States from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the nuncio who went on to make serious accusations against Francis in 2018 and become a highly controversial character.

In the US, where Catholics are often polarized into progressives and conservatives, the French nuncio has frequently invited the bishops to work for unity. Recently, he encouraged them to implement the synodality promoted by Pope Francis.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre in 2016

Ordained a priest in 1970 for the Diocese of Rennes, Christophe Pierre served as a vicar for three years in the diocese of Nanterre . He then joined the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the “school for nuncios” in Rome. After assignments in the Secretariat of State and numerous nunciatures — in New Zealand, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Brazil, and at the UN in Geneva — he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti by John Paul II in 1995.

Four years later, Archbishop Christophe Pierre was appointed nuncio to Uganda. In March 2007, Benedict XVI appointed him nuncio to Mexico. In Mexico, he organized the trips of Benedict XVI and then Francis.

In 2006, Pierre was one of the favorites to take up the post of Secretary of the Holy See for Relations with States, the equivalent of a Minister of Foreign Affairs. Another Frenchman, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, now a cardinal, was eventually appointed.

Among the new cardinals named by Pope Frances, there is François Bustillo, Bishop of Ajaccio (on the island of Corsica), also from France. With them, France will now have six cardinal electors: Cardinal Aveline, Archbishop of Marseille; Cardinal Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop Emeritus of Lyon; and Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Archbishop Emeritus of Bordeaux.

Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, the first Swiss nuncio to Italy

After breaking new ground in 2016 by creating a cardinal nuncio in the person of Mario Zenari, still serving in Damascus, Pope Francis has this time slipped three nuncios into his list: two serving and one retired.

At 76, Emil Paul Tscherrig is still the nuncio to Italy, where he was appointed in 2017 by the Argentine Pontiff. The two men met five years ago, when Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig was appointed nuncio to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, the then Cardinal Bergoglio and the nuncio were able to establish good relations during a period of just over a year, before the Argentine archbishop was elected pope in the 2013 conclave. As proof of his esteem and confidence, the latter appointed him to the strategic post of nuncio in Italy. As reported at the time, the diplomat from the Upper Valais was the first non-Italian to hold this position since 1929, when diplomatic relations between Italy and the Holy See were established.

Ordained in 1974, and in the diplomatic service of the Holy See since 1978, Archbishop Tscherrig was notably involved in preparing the diplomatic trips of Pope John Paul II from 1985 to 1996. Among the various nunciatures he has been responsible for, which include Burundi, Korea, and Mongolia, Archbishop Tscherrig was also stationed in Scandinavia from 2008 to 2012. He had to deal with the attack in Oslo (Norway), which killed 92 people in 2011.

With Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting of Christian Unity, Emil Paul Tscherrig is the second Swiss cardinal elector.

Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, a cardinal specializing in Ukraine

His name was eagerly awaited on the list of new cardinals. At 67, the former Italian nuncio became the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches last November. As such, the native of Verona was expected to receive the cardinal’s biretta. Such was the case for his predecessors, because the office placed them in de facto contact with the bishops and patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches. In Rome, his dicastery administers and coordinates the life of these Churches.

While not a surprise, the announcement of his cardinalate comes against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine. Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti is an expert on Eastern Europe and this country invaded by Russia. And with good reason: He was assigned as Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus in 2011, then in 2015 to Ukraine, before moving to Great Britain in 2020. He has just returned from a two-day trip to Belarus, where he was officially sent by the Pope to preside over a religious ceremony.

Along with Archbishop Prevost, Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, and Archbishop Fernández, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, ArchbishopClaudio Gugerotti is the third dicastery prefect created cardinal by the Pope in this consistory.

Archbishop José Cobo Cano, appointed cardinal one day after his installation in Madrid

Pope Francis did not leave the cardinal’s see of Madrid without a cardinal for long. Archbishop José Cobo Cano was just appointed Archbishop of Madrid on June 12 to replace Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra. He is 57 years old — born on September 20, 1965 — and he comes from the clergy of the Spanish capital.

Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Madrid on April 23, 1994, he first served as parochial vicar and parish priest. After two years as episcopal vicar, he was appointed auxiliary bishop at the end of 2017 and consecrated bishop on February 17, 2018.

A specialist in social ethics, he is a member of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference’s Episcopal Commission for Social Pastoral Care and Human Promotion. There, he is involved in the pastoral care of migrants, a theme close to his heart. He’s also involved in the fight against abuse, and the accompaniment of victims.

José Cobo Cano inaugurated his episcopal ministry as archbishop of the Madrid see on July 8 … the day before his designation as cardinal.

Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś, Polish historian committed to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue

Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś, 59, was born on February 9, 1964, and ordained a priest in the Diocese of Krakow on May 22, 1988. The Pole holds a doctorate in history. In addition to numerous publications in this field, he was head of the Department of Church History in the Middle Ages at the Pontifical John Paul II University in Krakow. He worked on the Polish pope’s beatification dossier, among other projects. From 2007 to 2011, he was rector of the Higher Theological Seminary of the Archdiocese of Krakow. 

On July 16, 2011, Benedict XVI appointed him auxiliary bishop of the same diocese. Consecrated on September 28, 2011, by Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz — former secretary to John Paul II — he would remain in that position for six years. During these years, the bishop, who is close to the Neocatechumenal Way, notably took part in the 50th anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal celebrated in Rome in 2017. Francis then appointed him Metropolitan Archbishop of Łódź, in the center of the country, on September 14, 2017, and invited him to be a member of the Synod for Youth (October 2018). During the assembly, Archbishop Rys urged a return to “what is essential,” which “is not so much whether the churches are full” but “inviting young people to experience Jesus.”

Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś is also deeply involved in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Since 2012, he has been a member of the International Auschwitz Committee. A few hours after the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, it was he who presided over the Mass in Polish at the tomb of St. John Paul II on February 24, 2022, along with his compatriot Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Papal Almoner. He was also sent in 2020 to administer the Diocese of Kalisz, whose bishop was accused of negligence in dealing with cases of abuse.

He has been a member of the Dicastery for Bishops since 2020. He is also one of the members appointed by the Pope to the forthcoming Synod on the Future of the Church.

Bishop Américo Manuel Alves Aguiar, a second cardinal for Lisbon

The Diocese of Lisbon will have two cardinal electors: Cardinal Clemente, the current patriarch — who turns 75 on July 18 — and his auxiliary bishop Alves Aguiar, just appointed by Pope Francis at the age of 49.

He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Porto on July 8, 2001. In addition to his studies in communications, he has been the parish priest of the cathedral and vice-rector of the diocesan shrine of Santa Rita. He also worked in the diocesan curia, and was president of the Confraternity of Clerics. Pope Francis appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Lisbon on March 1, 2019. Bishop Alves Aguiar’s episcopal ordination took place on March 31 of the same year.

The auxiliary bishop has many responsibilities, including president of the WYD Lisbon 2023 Foundation (the World Youth Day to be attended by Pope Francis in August), director of the Lisbon Patriarchate’s Communications Department, chairman of the board of Grupo Renascença Multimédia, and national chaplain of the Portuguese Fire Brigade League.

At the level of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference, he was director of the national secretariat for social communications between 2016 and 2019. He has also received various honorary medals, including from his country’s Ministry of Health.

With this creation, Portugal will now have four cardinal electors: In addition to the current Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, there are two cardinals created by Francis: Antonio dos Santos Marto, Archbishop Emeritus of Leiria-Fatima, and José Tolentino Mendonça, Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education.

Father Ángel Fernández Artime, a Salesian from Argentina

Among the future cardinals, the Pope named a long-time acquaintance from Buenos Aires: Spanish religious priest Ángel Fernández Artime, Don Bosco’s 10th successor as major rector of the Salesians. 62-year-old Ángel Fernández Artime was born on August 21, 1960, in Gozón-Luanco, Spain.

He made his perpetual vows on June 17, 1984, in the Salesian congregation in Santiago de Compostela, and was ordained a priest on July 4, 1987, in the Diocese of León. In the course of his ministry, he has been delegate for youth ministry, director of the Salesian school in Ourense, and vicar and provincial inspector for the Salesians.

Rev. Ángel Fernández Artime

In 2009, he was appointed superior of the province of Southern Argentina, based in Buenos Aires. In this capacity, he collaborated with the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, according to the Salesians’ website.

On December 23, 2013, he was appointed superior of the new province of Mediterranean Spain, but he didn’t have time to hold this position: Just a few months later, on March 25, 2014, the General Chapter elected him Rector Major of the congregation. He was reconfirmed in this responsibility for a second six-year term on March 11, 2020.

In recent years, with Fr. Fernández Artime at their head, the Salesians have grown closer to the Vatican, notably by signing a partnership with the Dicastery for Communication in 2017.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, a diplomat emeritus and migrant advocate

Born on August 28, 1940, in Vicenza (Italy), Archbishop Agostino Marchetto will not be an elector in the event of a conclave, as he has passed the age of 80. Ordained a priest in 1964, he joined the diplomatic services of the Holy See in 1968. He worked in this role in Zambia, Cuba, Algeria, Portugal, Mozambique, Madagascar and Tanzania, before becoming Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus in 1994 and then joining the Secretariat of State in 1996.

In 1999, Archbishop Marchetto became the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO, LFAD, WFP, CMA). In 2001, John Paul II (1978-2005) appointed him Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

Despite his duty of diplomatic reserve, Archbishop Marchetto has on several occasions made a name for himself by criticizing the Italian government’s migration policy, notably by defending Roma expellees. When he resigned as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in 2010, he said he wished to devote himself to his research on the Second Vatican Council.

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