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Rome Reports

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Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi: Tonga has much to contribute to the Church

None of the new cardinals created by Pope Francis on February 14 were as unlikely as Soane Patita Paini Mafi. The 53-year-old comes from Tonga, a nation of just 100,000 people. It took him more than 24 hours of travel to reach Rome. Cardinal Mafi said he thinks that while his nation is small, its people have much to offer the Universal Church. CARD. SOANE PATITA PAINI MAFI BISHOP OF TONGA "Our sense of God, our respect for the Mystery. Respect for communal, living together, sharing. That is a big value, sharing the poverty we have, the little we have.â? The Tongan cardinal said he was surprsied when he became a bishop. Rising to cardinal was even more of a shock. But he seemed prepared for the greater responsibility. CARD. SOANE PATITA PAINI MAFI BISHOP OF TONGA "I am sure there will be greater responsibility. But perhaps I think this way more, I am looking forward for more of this richness of the Church, the msytery of the Church.â?  At his age, the new cardinal could participate in more than one Conclave. He joked that while he is the youngest in the group, he doesn't necessarily look like it. CARD. SOANE PATITA PAINI MAFI BISHOP OF TONGA "I'm 53! I don't feel that that's young. I got gray hairs more than other, older ones. But I think it's an honor to be called while I am still young.â? Tongans from throughout the world joined the newly-created cardinal in Rome for the special moment. He said that it was an important day not just for him, but for his entire nation. ATO AA/MG SV -PR Up: GRT #NewCardinals