Although he swore that he came to Rome to participate in the last papal election without thinking that he would be the successor of Benedict XVI, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has an idea of the Church that he likes.
Although as archbishop of Buenos Aires he chose a low profile, he undermined the conception of a different ecclesiastical institution: open and understanding of the different realities of people, not all obsessed with sexual issues , rejected and with great concern for the poor. .
That vision that he considers best in line with the new times and new feelings without betraying the spirit of the doctrine – to which must be added his struggle for the transparency of the finances of the Vatican and to end the plague of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy – became their government program. A program that, although it seems reasonable, has provoked very strong opposition (Francis speaks of “resistance”) from the most conservative sectors.
Francisco had moments when he stepped on the accelerator and others, the brake. It was not a question of causing the division or of tightening the rope too tight, making the atmosphere unbreathable. But he is ready for his vision of the Church to endure beyond his pontificate. For this, succession planning is essential. And when it comes to succession, the composition of the college of cardinals is key, that is, the profile of cardinals under 80 years of age who voted for Peter’s successor.
It is not that only the cardinals fulfill that duty. In addition to being -nothing less- potential candidates for Pope. Because, in fact, the popes in recent centuries came from among the cardinals. On paper they are the main collaborators of the Pope like the parish priests of Rome in the past (today each cardinal honorably presides over a parish in Rome). More: Francis created a commission of cardinals to advise him.
In his more than ten years of papacy, Jorge Bergoglio took care to choose for the cardinal those who best respond to his idea of the Church. But, also, that they come from regions of the world that are not represented – or not enough – in the most Eurocentric college of cardinals. Then he began to choose clergy from remote areas such as Asian islands or countries with few Catholics such as Mongolia.
After a series of nine consistories – the ceremony in which a Pope creates cardinals – led by Francis, this Saturday the number of 137 cardinal electors has been reached, of which 99, that is, more than 70% , chosen by Jorge Bergoglio (29 by Benedict XVI and 9 by John Paul II).
As it stands, Francis has appointed more than two-thirds of the cardinals needed for the pope to elect a pope. However, it is wrong to make an automatic switch to the vote.
Of the 137, 52 are European (14 Italian) when during their election in 2013 there were 60 out of 115 voters.; 17 from North America (11 from the United States and 4 from Canada); 22 from Latin America; 19 from Africa; 24 from Asia; and three from Oceania. Of the 18 voters who were made this Saturday, there are from the United States (1), Italy (2), Switzerland (1), France (1), South Africa (1), Argentina (2), Colombia (1), Poland (1), Sudan (1), Spain (3), Tanzania (1), Malaysia (1), Hong Kong (1) and Portugal (1).
In the profile of the Church that he wants, Francis created a cardinal this time a countryman, Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, 61, whom he recently appointed to a very important position in the Vatican: he is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Precisely, it talks about how the doctrinal is planned in the daily life of the Church in a world marked by confusing changes.
In addition, Francis continues to “tie” his conception to the Church of his own country. In that sense, he also made the archbishop of Córdoba, Ángel Rossi, 65, a cardinal, completely in line with his worldview. It is certain that he will be followed in the cardinalate in the future by the new archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Ignacio García Cuerva, 55 years old. Like a good Jesuit, Francis looks to the future.