Pope says he will create new cardinals at end September

Pope Francis said on Sunday he would create 21 new cardinals from across the world at the end of September.

“Their provenance expresses the universality of the Church that continues to proclaim God’s merciful love to all people on earth,” said the pope, following his weekly Sunday Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic Palace on Saint Peter’s Square.

The consistory will be the ninth for the creation of cardinals under Pope Francis, who is in the tenth year of his papacy.

His choices are closely watched as an indication of the future direction of the Catholic Church and its priorities for its 1.3 billion faithful.

Cardinals under the age of 80 will participate in the vote to nominate the successor to Francis.

Since becoming pope, Francis has sought to promote clergy from developing nations far from Rome to the highest ranks of the Church, as part of his general philosophy of diversity and inclusion.

The names Francis announced Sunday include clergy in regions where Christianity is growing, such as Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Among the archbishops to become cardinals are those of Juba, South Sudan, Cape Town, South Africa, and Tabora, Tanzania. The list also includes bishops from Penang, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.

Also to become cardinal is the Italian Claudio Gugerotti, currently prefect for the Dicastery of the Eastern Churches, and Argentina’s Victor Manuel Fernandez, whom Francis chose in July to head the powerful Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Included from Latin America is the emeritus archbishop of Cumana, Venezuela, and a Capuchin priest from Buenos Aires.

The last consistory was held in August 2022, when Francis inducted 20 cardinals.

As of last year’s consistory, Francis had chosen around 90 out of the 132 cardinals eligible to elect a new pope, around two-thirds of the total.

Cardinals, who wear the scarlet robes of their office, serve as the pope’s top advisors and administrators.