Consistory 2016: the names

Rocco writes about the announcment of the new cardinals yesterday by Pope Francis, “Suffice it to say, it’s become Pope Francis’ unique habit that, in announcing new cardinals, no one is told in advance – above all the designates… let alone anyone else. Accordingly, at the end of today’s Angelus, 17 names were suddenly dropped for a Consistory to be held on Saturday, 19 November, to coincide with the close of the Jubilee Year – 13 of them electors, and four others to be elevated over the retirement age of 80″.

Rocco goes onto add how “Among other notables in the group: three voting Americans (making up for back-to-back shutouts in Francis’ first two intakes), and a fresh dose of the pontiff’s cherished “peripheries,” including the first-ever red hats from Bangladesh, the Central African Republic, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.

Here, the designates, in the order by which they will be created:

–Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Syria
–Dieudonné Nzapalainga, CSSp, archbishop of Bangui
–Carlos Osoro Sierra, archbishop of Madrid
–Sérgio da Rocha, archbishop of Brasilia
–Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago
–Patrick D’Rozario, CSC, archbishop of Dhaka
–Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, archbishop of Mérida
–Jozef De Kesel, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels
–Maurice Piat, bishop of Port-Louis
–Kevin Joseph Farrell,  prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life
–Carlos Aguiar Retes, archbishop of Tlalnepantla
–John Ribat, M.S.C. archbishop of Port Moresby
–Joseph William Tobin CSSR, archbishop of Indianapolis

And the “honorary” hats for retirees:

–Anthony Soter Fernandez, archbishop emeritus of Kuala Lumpur
–Renato Corti, bishop emeritus of Novara

–Sebastian Koto Khoarai, OMI, bishop emeritus of Mohale’s Hoek (Lesotho)
–Fr Ernest Simoni, priest the of Archdiocese of Shkodrë-Pult (Albania)

Rocco goes on to note how “Given what many will take as the day’s big surprise – the elevation of Joe Tobin, 64, the Detroit-born Redemptorist who’s led the 250,000-member Indy church since 2012 – well, for starters, the nickname he’s long had among his confreres bears recalling: “Big Red.” To be sure, that’s more a reference to both the former hockey enforcer‘s onetime ginger hair and the worldwide religious family he would lead for 12 years… still, given the latest curveball in a ministry full of them, the moniker fits its newest turn no less. After two terms as superior-general of the Redemptorists, in 2010 Benedict XVI named Tobin as archbishop-secretary of the “Congregation for Religious,” armed with a mandate to bring a smooth landing to the Holy See’s visitation of the US’ apostolic communities of sisters, which had become mired in untold levels of controversy and misunderstandings in domestic church-circles and media alike. That he entered the job by publicly cross-checking the excesses of the Roman Curia – in words that, while controversial at the time, would prove to be prophetic – is something that shouldn’t be forgotten today. With the task essentially finished in two years – thanks in large part to the now cardinal-designate’s fierce commitment to dialogue with the orders, and an equally formidable integration of their concerns into the process – Tobin’s appointment to Indianapolis didn’t just fulfill his wish to get home to the Midwest (above all to his indomitable mother, Marie-Terese, who raised 13 children alone as a young widow), the move likewise brought someone who had been a veteran pastor among the first Hispanic waves in Detroit and Chicago to a diocese which was just beginning to experience a sizable Latino influx, making the newcomers a priority in the venerable, largely-rural church for the first time”.

He adds “Barely six months after Tobin’s arrival by the Brickyard, his southern fluency would come into the ultimate reason behind this historic red hat: with the election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis, while most US bishops were furiously brushing up on the new pontiff, the Indy prelate suddenly found himself as one of the closest Stateside friends of the new Bishop of Rome – indeed, one of precious few North Americans who had any firsthand experience with him, let alone at length. That serendipity owed itself to the 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, which Tobin, as head of the Redemptorists, attended as the delegate of the Union of Superiors General (the umbrella-group of the global leaders of mens’ orders). As the Synod’s circuli minores – the small discussion-groups – were split up by language, bishops had already taken all the English-speaking slots by seniority, so Tobin found a seat in a Spanish group… and spent the next month sitting alongside the cardinal-archbishop of Buenos Aires. Accordingly, eight years later, within an hour of the Argentine’s election to Peter’s Chair – as most US hierarchs furiously sought to cram up on the Conclave’s choice – the Indianapolis media was treated to the most fully steeped of briefings while sitting around their archbishop’s desk. Sure enough, nobody in the States came anywhere close to “nailing” the man and the story so precisely in the moment – and, again, today’s news merely evinces the result. Within a year, Francis already showed that he hadn’t forgotten his old friend, naming Tobin a member of the Curial Congregation he had helped oversee (a rare nod for a far-flung bishop), as well as quietly sending him on a few delicate missions”.

Rocco goes on to write that “Over those same months in 2014, meanwhile, as someone the Pope knew – and who, in many ways, bore his scent – the Redemptorist’s name was duly floated at high levels for Chicago, only to be deemed too much a “wild card” by some key players, given his lack of experience in the national rungs of leadership. Amid that backdrop, this most “personal” seat in the College a Pope has given an American since 1958 (when John XXIII elevated Bishop Aloysius Muench of Fargo, who Papa Roncalli knew and admired as the postwar Nuncio to Germany) – and one given alongside the eventual Windy City pick – shows anew, and for the first time in the US, that even as Francis can be freewheeling in consulting  on major diocesan appointments, when it comes to the “Senate” that will elect his successor (and from which the next Pope will come), his choices are his own. Period. While no shortage of early focus on Tobin’s elevation has honed in on Tobin’s public clash with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence – now the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee – over the archdiocese’s decision last year to take in Syrian refugees, a far quieter, less politically charged angle carries even more weight”.

Rocco continues, “Each November during the USCCB meeting in Baltimore, the local Catholic Worker House goes to the trouble to invite all of the 300-odd prelates for dinner and conversation one night during Plenary Week. And for years, all of one consistently turned up: Bishop John Michael Botean, the Ohio-based eparch of North America’s 8,000 Romanian Catholics, who famously declared on the eve of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq that “any direct participation and support of this war… is objectively grave evil [and] a matter of mortal sin.” Normally as low-profile as he was outspoken on the war, as Botean slipped out to keep his usual commitment at the 2012 meeting, he was stunned to find company looking to head to the Peace Dinner: Tobin, who was just joining the Stateside bench upon his appointment to Indianapolis, and – having long and openly witnessed to four decades in recovery – was bound to find little taste for the oft-boozy scene of dinners and receptions that fill the hotel after the daily Floor sessions. Long story short, the Catholic Worker night is a commitment he’s kept ever since. And even as Francis’ push toward the “peripheries” has raised the event’s annual crowd to around a dozen bishops, as never before, now there’ll be a cardinal in the room for it”.

A profile discusses the next cardinal-archbishop of Madrid, “When Pope Francis announced the name of new cardinals on Sunday, some were shockers, others basically unknown. But one of them, at least in many corners of Spain, was an entirely expected choice: Juan Carlos Osoro, Archbishop of Madrid. Osoro was moved from Valencia to the Spanish capital by Francis in 2014, to replace Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela. Only months before the transfer, the local bishops voted him vice-president of their conference. The pontiff has joked with him on occasions, calling him “don Carlos, the pilgrim,” because he’s constantly walking around his diocese. In Madrid, however, many have dubbed Osoro the “Spanish Francis”: Pastorally oriented, carrying “the smell of the sheep,” highly concerned with religious vocations, the youth and the family, but also a man who “wastes” time being spiritual director of many young people while he’s busy leading one of Europe’s key dioceses. Rodrigo Pinedo, Osoro’s spokesperson and a 28-year old layman, defined his boss as someone very close to the people, “who likes being with the faithful and leading a church that goes after those who are cut off and critical of the Church that only tends to those who are ‘ours,’ with closed doors.” Among the many things the soon-to-be-created cardinal did when he arrived in Madrid, Pinedo told Crux, was to launch a diocesan plan for evangelization, trying to capture a realistic image of how Catholics in the city live their faith and what are the most concrete ways to reach those who are cut off. Father Gabriel Benedicto, the parish priest of La Paloma, also underlined Osoro’s particular attention to ministering to youth. The cardinal has invited young Catholics in Madrid to join him every first Friday of the month for a prayer vigil, where he takes the time to dialogue with them and to greet as many as he can”.

The profile goes on to add that “Dialogue, the priest said, is another key issue of the archbishop, who like Francis often preaches about a Church that “goes out,” trying to approach the world through common concerns and avoiding conflicts. The prelate is also very focused on religious vocations, especially those to the priesthood. “He knows the Church needs shepherds that take care of the flock,” Benedicto said on Sunday. When Osoro left the dioceses of Valencia, the seminary kept growing, with 51 seminarians in 2012 and 61 in 2013. “Talking to us, he’s also very keen on calling us to be faithful to our vocation, and to propose it to young men as a possibility,” Benedicto said. The priest has welcomed his boss several times. Most notably, during the feast day of Our Lady of La Paloma, marked every August 15, during Spain’s summer break time. Despite the date, the celebration attracts thousands, many more than that of Our Lady of Almudena, the city’s actual patroness. Our Lady of la Paloma has been, since the late XVIII century, the mother of the people, especially those who are on the outskirts, the poor, the elderly and the youth. That attention also includes those who live “on the spiritual outskirts,” as Benedicto said”.

The piece notes that “Another thing Osoro did when he arrived in Madrid was to visit the cloistered convents to ask the nuns and novitiates to pray for his ministry, something which, technically, they would have done even without the visit. Beyond his pastoral approach, those close to him regard him as very orthodox in the faith, yet he refuses to be labeled as liberal or conservative. Once asked about it, he said he was neither, but instead “a man of the Church.” “The truth is that a man of the Church can only be a man of dialogue. If there’s something the Church needs to do, it’s to incarnate herself where she lives and this implies dialogue,” he said”.

Unusually the piece adds how the cardinal-designate found out, “Although Francis’s decision to make the Spaniard a cardinal was expected, the man in question wasn’t privy to the pope’s decision until Sunday at noon, when the archbishop emeritus of Oviedo, whom he succeeded, gave him a call as Osoro was boarding a plane. “I didn’t believe him because I thought he was one of those friends you have who want it to happen, but nothing else,” Osoro told Cope, the radio station of the Spanish bishops on Sunday. The appointment, he continued, calls for sincere gratitude towards Francis, “for the trust the appointment implies. Personal merits, as you know, I don’t have many, but it is true that throughout my life I’ve tried to not to keep anything for myself but to give it all to the Church and the Christians I’ve served,” wherever the popes have sent him. With Osoro’s nomination, Spain will now have four voting cardinals in case there’s a conclave to succeed Pope Francis in the near future. In order of age, they are: Lluís Martínez Sistach, emeritus of Barcelona; Ricardo Blázquez, of Valladolid; Antonio Cañizares, of Valencia, and Osoro. Spain also has four cardinals over the age of 80, including Antonio María Rouco Varela, emeritus of Madrid”.

While a related piece discusses Archbishop Cupich, “Pope Francis on Sunday engineered what may prove to be a seismic shift in the Catholic hierarchy in the United States, elevating not one or two, but a full three new American cardinals seen as belonging to the centrist, non-cultural warrior wing of the country’s hierarchy”.

The article adds “The three Americans are Archbishops Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis, as well as Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, recently chosen by Francis to head his new “dicastery,” meaning a Vatican department, on Family, Laity and Life. While none of these three figures would be seen as “liberal” by secular standards, they are perceived as belonging to the more progressive camp in the Catholic hierarchy. Of the three, Cupich and Farrell were quasi-expected, although one never knows  with the unpredictable Francis. Chicago is an archdiocese that’s long been held by a cardinal, and Farrell’s new Vatican post seemed to beckon a cardinal at the top. Tobin, however, is more of a surprise. Indianapolis is not a traditional “red-hat” see, meaning a diocese typically led by a cardinal, and his name had not featured prominently in much of the speculation leading up to the consistory announcement. While the choice of a relatively small American city to have a cardinal could be seen as consistent with Francis’s passion for outreach to the peripheries, taken in tandem with both Cupich and Farrell, it seems more plausible that Francis was making a statement about the direction in which he wants the American church to go”.

Interestingly it mentions how “Had Francis held more to convention in his American picks, the logical candidates beyond Cupich would have been Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, both American cities historically led by cardinals. There also would have been logic in each case, as the Mexican-born Gomez would have been the first Hispanic cardinal in U.S. Catholic history, and Chaput was Francis’s host when the pontiff visited Philadelphia last September for the World Meeting of Families. Both Gomez and Chaput, however, are broadly perceived as more “conservative,” and thus would have reinforced what’s already seen as a strong conservative majority among the American cardinals, who tend to have an outsize influence on setting the tone for the Church both in terms of media perceptions and also internal leadership. For some time now, retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been perceived as a fairly isolated figure among the U.S. cardinals in terms of his basic center-left, social justice-oriented outlook, able to talk to Democrats as comfortably as Republicans. He was joined in that stance by retired Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, but Mahony’s involvement in the clerical abuse scandals in the Los Angeles archdiocese has to some extent limited his effectiveness”.

Crucially the author notes “With Cupich and Tobin, however, what one might call the “McCarrick caucus” among the American cardinals has been swelled significantly. Cupich was well known at Francis’s two Synods of Bishops on the family for parting company to some extent with the more traditionalist bloc, signaling openness on issues such as finding new pastoral approaches for LGBT believers and also opening the door to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to potentially receive Communion. Tobin is a former superior general of the worldwide Redemptorist religious order, who served from 2010 to 2012 as the number two official at the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, better known as the “Congregation for Religious,” during the time when the Vatican was conducting two separate investigations of American nuns. Tobin was publicly critical of those probes, suggesting they had been launched without dialogue or consultation with the women religious, and behind the scenes that didn’t always sit well with some of the prelates who had pushed for them in the first place. Many observers believed at the time his 2012 transfer to Indianapolis, before the usual five-year term in a Vatican office was up, reflected some unhappiness with his more conciliatory line”.

The piece mentions “As for Farrell, over his years in Dallas he’s tried to steer the University of Dallas into a more centrist, mainstream position, at times running afoul of the sentiments of more conservative forces at the university. He’s also emerged as a leader in favour of gun control, something of a bold stance in the context of Texas, and also on immigration issues. In one fell swoop, therefore, Francis has reshaped the character of the most senior level of the American hierarchy, steering it away from what some see as the partisan stance of the last two decades and back towards what might be described as the “consistent ethic of life” ethos associated with the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, also of Chicago. Bernardin also used the phrase “seamless garment” to capture that view. The outlook, while certainly defending Church teaching on matters such as abortion and euthanasia, is more inclined to see them as part of a spectrum that also includes immigration, the death penalty, the environment, concern for the poor, and so on. In 2011, the widely respected American Catholic writer George Weigel penned an influential essay in First Things declaring “the Bernardin Era is over and the Bernardin Machine is no more,” after Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York defeated Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson in the race for president of the US bishops conference, and at the time Weigel’s diagnosis was hard to dispute. What neither Weigel nor anyone else could have anticipated, however, was the rise of a Latin American pontiff who would revive that legacy in his neighbour to the north”.

It ends “While the realignment probably won’t have any immediate impact on the way the American Church approaches the election on Nov. 8 since the consistory isn’t until ten days later, it likely will reshape how the Church engages the aftermath – both in terms of the kinds of issues it prioritizes, and whom the Catholic leadership of the country is able to talk to about them”.

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