(Rome) Only six months after the recent consistory on the creation of new cardinals, Pope Francis announced yesterday the next cardinal appointments. Such a short-term succession of cardinal appointments was the last thing that happened in 2012 immediately before Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.
The announcement made by Pope Francis on Sunday said that he felt an urgent need to appoint new cardinals who were eligible for election in an imminent conclave.
The full number of the papal electors currently stands at 120 cardinals who have not yet reached 80 years of age. At present, this includes 116 cardinals. In the first half of 2018, seven current papal electors will leave for reasons of age. Then the number will remain constant until the end of January 2019. With the five new cardinals, 49 of the 121 pope voters will have been appointed by Francis.
With the announcement of the creation of five new cardinals, Pope Francis will even slightly exceed the full figure for eight months.
The Cardinals' Consistory was announced by Francis for the 28th of June. Of the five new cardinals, four come from the margins:
Msgr. Jean Zerbo, Archbishop of Bamako (Mali)
Msgr. Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona (Spain)
Msgr. Anders Arborelius, Bishop of Stockholm (Sweden)
Msgr. Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Paksé (Laos)
Gregorio Rosa Chávez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador (El Salvador)
Three of the five new cardinals are from the Diaspora, which is why the question of the representation of the Cardinals from countries and dioceses, which are hardly known to Catholics (Mali, Sweden, Laos), have been raised. Whether the periphery or the center ( Pope Francis allows for an overweights from the periphery once again), a "Bergoglian" identity is common to the appointed men.
Above all, the appointment of an Auxiliary Bishop to the Cardinal raises questions. The reigning Archbishop of San Salvador is younger than his auxiliary bishop coming to the purple. Monsignor Rosa has been an auxiliary bishop since 1982 and was appointed by Pope John Paul II. Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas was appointed in 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI.
In the Cardinal, and thus to his advisors, the Pope can appoint whom he will, but the elevation of Monsignor Rosa is at least unusual. Auxiliary Bishop Rosa is the oldest of the new Cardinals at 74 years.
On the 28th of June there will be a total of 227 cardinals.