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Issue Date:  March 3, 2006

Two Americans among new cardinals


Benedict XVI named 15 new cardinals Feb. 22, including two Americans, putting his personal stamp for the first time on the most senior leaders in the Catholic church.

The two Americans are Archbishop William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston. The nominations will likely be taken as a papal vote of confidence in the American church, given what many consider the overrepresentation of Americans among the ranks of the cardinals and that this is a small group of new cardinals.

The United States has 13 cardinals, 11 of whom are voting age, the largest national block in the college after the Italians.

In terms of ideological makeup, the new cardinals appear to be something of a mixed group. Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna is a strong conservative, especially on issues of life and the family, but O’Malley and Gaudencio Rosales of Manila are seen as moderates with a strong concern for the poor.

Rosales is a modest pastoral figure, who recently declined four times election to the post of president of the Filipino bishops’ conference.

In a choice sure to be scrutinized closely for its diplomatic ramifications, Benedict named Archbishop Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, a prelate known for his outspoken concerns regarding political and religious freedom in China.

Some observers had expected that if he were to name Zen, Benedict might do so in pectore, meaning secretly, in order not to disrupt delicate Sino-Vatican relations. His choice to make the appointment public is a reminder of Benedict’s distaste for allowing the church’s internal life to be conditioned by conventional diplomatic logic.

In another reversal of conventional wisdom, Benedict tapped the archbishop of Bordeaux, Jean-Pierre Ricard, instead of André Armand Vingt-Trois of Paris, generally considered the premier French see. Ricard, however, had in effect been in line longer, since he became an archbishop in 2001.

As always, announcements of new cardinals are interesting for who’s not on the list. Some observers had expected that Archbishop Dairmiud Martin of Dublin, Ireland, a veteran of the Vatican diplomatic service, might make the cut.

Perhaps the most striking omission is the absence of a new Brazilian cardinal. Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world, and many Brazilian Catholics have long considered their church underrepresented in the College of Cardinals, with eight members, including just three voting cardinals.

With the Feb. 22 announcement, the United States will continue to have more cardinal-electors than the combined number for Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines, the three largest Catholic countries in the world representing almost 300 million Catholics.

Many observers had expected either Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz of Brasilia or Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida to get the nod, but neither man made the list.

By naming just 12 new cardinals of voting age, Benedict signaled his determination to remain within the ceiling of 120 cardinals under the age of 80 set by his predecessors, but frequently ignored by Pope John Paul II.

Benedict also named three “honorary” cardinals, men already over the age of 80, in recognition of their service to the church.

In making the announcement in Rome, Benedict said the list of new cardinals “respects well the universality of the church: They come from different parts of the world and take on different tasks in the service of the people of God.”

The nominees will be formally inducted into the College of Cardinals in a Rome ceremony March 25.

The new cardinals are:

  • Archbishop William Levada, 69, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
  • Archbishop Franc Rodè, 71, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
  • Archbishop Agostino Vallini, 65, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
  • Archbishop Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, 63, of Caracas, Venezuela
  • Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales, 73, of Manila, Philippines
  • Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard, 61, of Bordeaux, France
  • Archbishop Antonio Cañizares Lloveda, 60, of Toledo, Spain
  • Archbishop Nicholas Cheong Jin-Suk, 74, of Seoul, Korea
  • Archbishop Sean O’Malley, 61, of Boston
  • Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, 66, of Kraków, Poland
  • Archbishop Carlo Caffarra, 67, of Bologna, Italy
  • Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, 74, of Hong Kong

The three honorary appointments are:

  • Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza de Montezemolo, 80, archpriest of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls
  • Archbishop-emeritus Peter Proeku Dery, 87, of Tamale, Ghana
  • Jesuit Fr. Albert Vanhoye, 82, former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute

National Catholic Reporter, March 3, 2006

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