In a move that asserts the ongoing influence Pope Francis wields on the eventual selection of his successor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church recently announced he has selected 21 new cardinals.
Pope Francis made the announcement during a regular Sunday address to the public in St. Peter’s Square July 9, revealing that the official installation of the newly appointed cardinals will take place September 30.
Among those chosen are several prelates who currently hold or are on the verge of assuming significant positions within the Vatican. One example is Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, 59, from La Plata, Argentina, recently appointed by the pope, who will now lead the influential office responsible for upholding doctrinal orthodoxy.
Of the 21 newly chosen cardinals from across the globe, 18 are younger than 80 and are therefore eligible to vote in the next conclave. So far, in his decade as pontiff, Poper Francis has designated nine groups of new cardinals.
The newly appointed cardinals include prominent figures such as Hong Kong Bishop Stephen Sau-yan Chow, 64, and Monsignor Pierbattista Pizzaballa, 58, who serves as the Vatican’s highest-ranking official in the Middle East and holds the title of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Both church leaders shepherd their respective communities in regions of significant geopolitical importance to the Vatican.
The pope said his selection of cardinals serves as a representation of the Church’s universal nature that “continues to announce the merciful love of God to all men of the Earth.”
In addition to cardinals playing a crucial role as advisers to the pontiff, offering guidance on matters related to teaching, administration and the Vatican’s financial affairs, they are also responsible for convening in a confidential conclave to elect the next pope.
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