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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

January 8, 2015

Meeting the New Cardinals

Pope Francis announced his intention to create twenty new cardinals at the upcoming consistory (an assembly of cardinals called together by the pope) on February 14, 2015. Fifteen of the new cardinals are less than eighty years old and would be eligible to vote for a new pope should the need arise. Five of the cardinals are over eighty and will receive the red biretta (the three-peaked hat worn by cardinals) as an honor for their service to the Church, but would not be eligible to vote for a new pope.

The new cardinals represent many smaller countries and countries with few Catholics. Some observers were surprised by this. Others noted that the international nature of his choices and his decision not to make cardinals out of leaders of traditional cardinalatial sees (cities that are usually headed by cardinals) has precedence in Popes Pius XII and Pope Benedict XVI. In 1946, Pope Pius XII chose fifteen cardinals from around the world as well as seventeen from Europe and the United States.  Pope Benedict’s final consistory in 2012 was also international with one new cardinal from the United States and the other five from Lebanon, India, Nigeria, Colombia, and the Philippines.

Invite students to review geography and consider the countries in which these cardinals live.

You might consider posing questions like the following:

  • Where in these countries will the new cardinals live?
  • How many of them will be cardinals of cities that are also capitals of their countries?

Elector Cardinals

  1. Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of Wellington (New Zealand) Where? Southern tip of North Island, capital city
  2. Archbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., of Montevideo (Uruguay) Where? Southern tip of Uruguay on the coast, capital city
  3. Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Vallodolid (Spain) Where? North central Spain
  4. Archbishop Alberto Suàrez Inda of Morelia (Mexico) Where? Middle of Mexico but closer to the Pacific Ocean
  5. Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok (Thailand) Where? Southern part of country, capital city
  6. Archbishiop Manuel José Macario do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch* of Lisbon (Portugal) Where? Southwest Portugal, near coast, capital city
  7. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura** Where? Vatican
  8. Archbishop Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., of Yangon (Myanmar) Where? South of the main part of the country, capital until 2005
  9. Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli of Ancona-Osimo (Italy) Where? Northern east coast
  10. Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento (Italy) West coast of Sicily
  11. Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) Where? Center of Ethiopia, capital city
  12. Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Van Nhon of Hà Nôi (Viêt Nam) Where? South central area of country, capital city
  13. Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado, of Santiago de Cabo Verde (Archipelago of Cape Verde) Where? Middle of largest island
  14. Bishop José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán, O.A.R., of David (Panamá) Where? Western side of country
  15. Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga (Island of Tonga) center of the Island of Tonga

Non-elector Cardinals

  1. Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, Major Pro-Penitentiary*** Emeritus (Italy);
  2. Júlio Duarte Langa, Bishop Emeritus of Xai-Xai (Mozambique).
  3. Archbishop Karl-Joseph Rauber, Apostolic Nuncio**** (Germany);
  4. José de Jesús Pimiento Rodriguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Manizales (Colombia);
  5. Luis Héctor Villaba, Archbishop Emeritus of Tucumán (Argentina)

* Why is the cardinal-elect from Portugal known as the “Patriarch” of Lisbon? A papal Bull (decree) in 1716 gave the cleric who presided at the college chapel cathedral the rank of patriarch. The patriarch was responsible for Western Lisbon and some other areas. The plan was that he would be created a cardinal at the first consistory following his appointment. Later, the patriarch became responsible for Eastern Lisbon and other areas formerly under the leadership of the archbishop of Lisbon because there was no need for an archbishop and a patriarch at the same time.

** What is the Prefect for the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura? The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is a court of justice, in this case the supreme court of justice for the Vatican that also ensures that justice in the Church is correctly administered. The prefect is the chief officer of this tribunal.

*** What is the Major Pro-Penitentiary Emeritus? This is the Vatican court of mercy that deals with issues such as excommunication, indulgences, and so on. Emeritus is a Latin term that describes a person who has retired from a post.

**** What is an apostolic nuncio? An apostolic nuncio is a Church diplomat to a state or international organization.


  • Elizabeth Dias, “Pope Francis Surprises Again: 20 New Cardinals, None from USA.” January 4, 2015, Time,
  • Robert Mickens, “Francis chooses new cardinals from the margins,” January 5, 2015, National Catholic Reporter Online,
  • Andrea Tornielli, “Pius XII and Benedict XVI’s “global” Consistories,” January 5, 2015, Vatican Insider,

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