On the same day he announced their names, Pope Francis wrote to the 19 prelates he chose to become members of the College of Cardinals. In the letter, the Pope said becoming a cardinal is not a "promotion,” but rather an expansion of their vision in service to God. He asked that if they celebrate, to do it with "austerity and poverty,” as well as joy.
The Consistory to welcome the 19 new cardinals will take place on February 22. They come from 12 countries, but the majority are from the Third World. Even so, there are many surprises among the list.
First, only 16 of them will be under 80. The other three, from Italy, Spain and St. Lucia, will be recognized for their contributions to the Church. But, even with 16 new cardinals, the number of papal electors will remain 120 by May.
The Americas dominate the list. They include the archbishops of major cities, not already holding that title: Quebec, Managua, Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.
Most notably, however, is the inclusion of Msgr. Chibly Langois, the bishop of Les Cayes. On February 22, he will become Haiti's first cardinal. Overall, the number of papal electors from Latin America will rise to 19.
Asia and Africa will each get two new cardinals. South Korea will get its second cardinal ever, with Mons. Andrew Yeom Soo jung, archbishop of Seoul. The country boasts the highest rate of conversion to Catholicism. He'll be joined by the archbishop of Cotabato, an area in the southern Philippines hit by violence by a Muslim separatist group.
Meanwhile, two other new cardinals will come from poverty-stricken cities in West Africa, that have also seen lots of conflict: Abdijan in Ivory Coast, and Ouagadougou in Burkina Fasso. Africa will now have 14 papal electors, while Asia will have 12.
Outside of the Roman Curia, only two European archbishops will be made cardinals. The first, completely expected, is the archbishop of Westminster in England. The second is the Italian archbishop of Perugia. In choosing Msgr. Gualtiero Bassoti, the Pope left out traditional cardinal sees like Venice and Turin, at least for now.
The four Curia members that will be made cardinal include the Secretary of State and the heads of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, for the Clergy, and the secretary of the Synod of Bishops.