Pope Francis has named Nigeria’s Bishop Peter Okpaleke as a cardinal, along with 20 others drawn mostly outside of Europe.
The Pope read out the names of his choices on Sunday after delivering traditional remarks from an open window of the Apostolic Palace to the public in St. Peter’s Square.
TheFact Nigeria recalled that Opkaleke, who turned 59 on 1 March, was appointed as Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, but was rejected by the diocese.
Sixteen of those who will receive the prestigious red cardinal’s hat from Francis in a consistory ceremony at the Vatican on Aug. 27 are younger than 80.
He and others would be eligible to vote for Pope Francis successor if a conclave — in which pontiffs are secretly elected — were to be held.
The other prelates hail from France, Brazil, India, Mongolia, Paraguay, Nigeria, Timor Oriental, and Italy, upholding the pontiff’s tradition of focusing on the peripheries when adding to the college of cardinals.
All the cardinals of the world are set to be in Rome for the occasion. They will already be there for an Aug. 29-30 session to reflect on the new Vatican’s constitution that goes in effect June 6. This will be Pope Francis’s eighth consistory for the creation of new cardinals.
Of the new crop of cardinals, 16 will be able to participate in the conclave that will eventually choose Pope Francis’s successor. The other five are over the age of 80 making the title mostly an honorary one.
Three of the new cardinals come from the Roman curia, meaning the Catholic Church’s central government: Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Lazzaro You Heung sik, Prefect for the Congregation for Clergy; and Fernando Vergez Alzaga, who runs the Vatican city state.
The other prelates under the age of 80 are:
Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline, of Marseille (France).
Archbishop Peter Okpaleke, of Ekwulobia (Nigeria).
Archbishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, of Manaus (Brazil).
Archbishop Filipe Neri António Sebastião of Rosário Ferrão, of Goa e Damão (India).
Bishop Robert Walter McElroy, of San Diego (U.S.A.).
Archbishop Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva, of Dili (East Timor).
Bishop Oscar Cantoni, of Como (Italy).
Archbishop Anthony Poola, of Hyderabad (India).
Archbishop Paulo Cezar Costa,, of Brasília (Brazil).
Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr M. Afr, of Wa (Ghana).
Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye, of Singapore (Singapore).
Archbishop Adalberto Martínez Flores, of Asunción (Paraguay).
Archbishop Giorgio Marengo, Prefect of Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia).
The five who are over the age of 80 are:
Archbishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal – Archbishop Emeritus of Cartagena (Colombia).
Archbishop Lucas Van Looy sdb – Archbishop Emeritus of Ghent (Belgium).
Archbishop Arrigo Miglio – Archbishop Emeritus of Cagliari (Italy).
Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda sj. – Professor of Theology.
Monsignor Fortunato Frezza, canon of St. Peter’s.
When a pope creates new cardinals, he’s not only choosing the person who might be his eventual successor; the “red hats,” as they’re often called due to the color of their zucchetto, or skullcap, also serve as key papal advisers, with those under 80 quickly being appointed as members of Vatican offices and councils.
The selection also says a lot about the path a pontiff wants the church to take.
In the “Francis era,” many new cardinals come from far-flung, often overlooked dioceses where Catholics are a distinct minority. In the case of Mongolia, for instance, there are about 1,400 Catholics in the central Asian country that hosts eight parishes.