Pope urges compassion while elevating 13 new, likeminded cardinals

Friday, October 11, 2019

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has added 13 new cardinals to the top of the Catholic hierarchy, telling them they must show God’s compassion to those who suffer to be faithful to their ministry.

Francis presided over the ceremony Saturday in St. Peter’s Basilica, elevating churchmen who share his pastoral concerns at a time when his pontificate is under fire from conservatives within the College of Cardinals itself.

Among the 13 are 10 cardinals who are under age 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave, increasing the likelihood that a future pope might end up looking an awful lot like the current one. These are churchmen who care for migrants, promote dialogue with Muslims and minister to the faithful in poor, farflung missionary posts.

With Saturday’s consistory, Francis will have named 52% of the voting-age cardinals. Many hail from churches in the developing world that never have had a “prince” representing them in a sign of Francis’ desire to mirror the universal face of the Catholic Church in the church’s leadership ranks.

Francis was in many ways preaching to the choir when he urged the new cardinals to both feel and share God’s compassion, saying it was an “essential” part of understanding God’s love for the weakest and most marginal.

“If I don’t feel it, how can I share it, bear witness to it, bestow it on others?” he asked in his homily. “So many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion, and by the habit of averting one’s gaze, the habit of indifference.”

The consistory comes at a fraught time in Francis’ sixyear papacy. Opposition is mounting among conservative Catholics who disapprove of his emphasis on the environment, migrants and other issues rather than the doctrinaire focus of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI.

Yet in a sign of continuity with the past pope, Francis and the new cardinals made a pilgrimage across the Vatican gardens after the ceremony Saturday evening to call on Benedict, who gave them his blessing, the Vatican said.

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