Pope Francis, once again, has caught the world off guard with his choices for new cardinals. The following are five keys to understand the impact his decision will have on the Catholic Church.
ELECTORS... AND PAPABILE
With his choices for new cardinals, the pope is also chiseling the profile of his successor.
Not only will they be electors in the next Conclave; one might even be the next pope.
The pope wants the College of Cardinals to be as international as possible.
The cardinals he has appointed during his pontificate reflect his intentions. The College is far less "European,” and more evenly distributed amongst the nations of the world.
Since 2013, the number of cardinal electors from Europe and North America has decreased. Cardinal electors in Central America have remained in similar numbers, and electors from South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania have increased.
Italy remains a superpower in the College of Cardinals. They have 25 electors, having lost only one since the beginning of Pope Francis' pontificate.
The second country with the most electors is the United States, who have ten, followed by France and Brazil, who have five each. Mexico, Spain, Poland, and India each have four electors.
If the Conclave were to take place today, 21 cardinals would be those appointed by John Paul II, 56 by Benedict XVI, and 44 by Pope Francis.
Technically, the Pope does not name cardinals, he "creates” them. In other words, he decides freely who to tap.
There was an unwritten rule in the Catholic Church that said that archbishops in important cities had to be cardinals. A rule that seems to have definitively broken.
Traditional red hat sees, such as Los Angeles, Monterrey, and Venice, are not led by a cardinal anymore. However, Pope Francis has appointed cardinals from other less important cities in those countries.
DIALOGUE AND PAST HIGH-LEVEL APPOINTMENTS
Apparently, Pope Francis follows three criteria to appoint cardinal electors:
People of dialogue, capable of bringing people together.
People who have actively helped those who suffer.
People who have led important organisms within the Church, with a proven ability to garner wide consensus.
Nobody suspected the pope was about to appoint a new set of cardinals.
Pope Francis has made the decision on his own, without even warning those who were about to be chosen.
Thanks to this, there have been no leaks and no other external pressure that might have tainted his decision.