Vatican City, 5 December 2015 (VIS) – The following is the full text of a note from the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., on the creation of new cardinals in the upcoming consistory, to be held on 14 February.
“Considering the usual number of 120 electors, there were 12 places 'available' in the College of Cardinals. Although the Pope has slightly exceeded this number, he has remained very close to it, so it has substantially been respected.
The most evident criterion is that of universality. Among the new electors, 14 different countries are represented, of which six did not previously have a cardinal, and some have never had one. If the non-electors are also counted, then 18 countries are represented. Among the electors, there are 5 from Europe, 3 from Asia, 3 from Latin America (including Mexico), 2 from Africa and 2 from Oceania. There are no new cardinals for North America (U.S.A. and Canada), since there number is already significant and has remained stable since last year. (There is a new Mexican cardinal).
There is a significant presence of countries that have not had a cardinal (Cape Verde, Tonga, Myanmar), and of small or minority ecclesial communities. (The Bishop of Tonga is president of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific; the diocese of Santiago of Cape Verde is one of the oldest African diocese; the diocese of Morelia in Mexico is in a region stricken by violence). It is notable that there is only one new cardinal from the Roman Curia, while currently the “Roman” cardinals constitute around a quarter of the electors. Evidently the Pope wishes to consider the Prefects of the Congregations and a few other very important institutions of the Curia, such as the Tribunal of the Signatura. It is confirmed that the Pope does not consider himself bound by the tradition of 'cardinal sees', that for historical reasons in various Countries were considered almost 'automatically' linked to the cardinalate. Instead we see various appointments of archbishops and bishops from sees that have not had a cardinal in the past. This is true of Italy, Spain and Mexico.
With regard to the non-electors, the Pope’s brief introduction is noteworthy: “they represent many bishops who, with the same care of shepherds”, have served as the pastors of dioceses, but also in the Curia and the diplomatic service. Appointment as a cardinal may therefore be a form of recognition given symbolically to some, but acknowledging the merits of all.
The youngest of the new cardinals is the archbishop of Tonga, Msgr. Mafi (1961), who will become the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. The eldest is the emeritus of Manizales, Msgr. Pimiento Rodriguez (1919)”.