VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI named 24 new cardinals, including two from the United States: Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest tribunal, and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.
The pope announced the names at the end of his weekly general audience Oct. 20 and said he would formally install the cardinals during a special consistory at the Vatican Nov. 20.
“The universality of the church is reflected in the list of new cardinals. In fact, they come from various parts of the world and fulfill different tasks in the service of the Holy See or in direct contact with the people of God as fathers and pastors of particular churches,” the pope said.
The new cardinals come from 13 countries on five continents, and their number included 10 Italians. The pope named 10 Roman Curia officials – a higher number than expected – along with 10 residential archbishops and four prelates over the age of 80. One unusual aspect of the pope’s list was that two of the residential archbishops were retired.
The November ceremony will mark the third time Pope Benedict has created cardinals since his election in April 2005. After the consistory, he will have appointed about 40 percent of the cardinals currently under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.
The elevation of Cardinal-designates Burke and Wuerl will bring the number of U.S. cardinals to 18. Of that number, 13 are voting-age – matching a historically high number for the United States.
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York was not on the list of new cardinals; his retired predecessor in New York, Cardinal Edward M. Egan, is still under 80, and tradition generally holds against two voting-age cardinals from the same diocese.
The consistory will leave the College of Cardinals with 203 members, a new record. Of those, 121 will be under age 80, one more than a numerical limit of 120 that has often been waived. Seven cardinals will turn 80 over the next six months.
Pope Benedict’s latest appointments left geographical balances relatively unchanged among voting members of the College of Cardinals, although it bolstered the European presence, which will have 62 of the 121 potential cardinal electors. The new voting-age cardinals included 11 from Europe, 2 from Latin America, 2 from North America, 4 from Africa and 1 from Asia.
Eight of the under-80 cardinals named were Italians, leaving Italy with 25 voting-age cardinals, by far the largest number from a single country. Italy will have 48 cardinals overall.
Ten of the new cardinals are Roman Curia officials, which means that Roman Curia elector cardinals would number 37, about 30 percent of the total.
Cardinal-designate Burke, 62, is prefect of the Vatican’s highest tribunal, the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature. While the court’s work is generally shrouded in secrecy, when it comes to moral and political issues – especially abortion and same-sex marriage – Cardinal-designate Burke has been one of the most outspoken U.S. bishops.
Before the November 2008 U.S. presidential election, he said the Democratic Party “risks transforming itself definitively into a ‘party of death.’“
In 2004, he was the first U.S. bishop to say publicly that he would withhold Communion from Catholic politicians with voting records that contradicted church teaching on fundamental moral issues. He was serving as archbishop of St. Louis when Pope Benedict named him head of the Apostolic Signature in 2008.
Cardinal-designate Wuerl, 69, is known for his commitment to promoting Catholic religious education and Catholic schools. As head of the archdiocese that includes the U.S. capital, he also has been a leader in defending Catholic values in public life.
The pope named four Africans as cardinals, including Coptic Patriarch Antonios Naguib of Alexandria, Egypt, who has been in the spotlight recently as the recording secretary for the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.
Also named were Congolese Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, 71, a biblical scholar and activist in justice and peace issues; Guinean Archbishop Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, 65; and retired Zambian Archbishop Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, 79, who has helped mediate political disputes in his country.
The pope named a single Asian, a former collaborator in the Roman Curia: Sri Lankan Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, 62. He was formerly a secretary of the Vatican’s worship congregation.
In Latin America, the pope named Brazilian Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, 73, as well as Ecuadorean Archbishop Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, 76, who retired as archbishop of Quito in September.
European residential archbishops among the new cardinals included Italian Archbishop Paolo Romeo of Palermo, 72, Polish Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, 60, and German Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, 57.
In addition to Cardinal-designates Burke and Sarah, the Roman Curia officials named included Italian Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes; Italian Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy; Swiss Archbishop Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Italian Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal; and Italian Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, who was recently named as an interim leader of the Legionaries of Christ while the order undergoes a reorganization.
“I ask you to pray for the new cardinals, asking the intercession of the most holy mother of God so they fruitfully fulfill their ministry in the church,” the pope said.
The pope named four cardinals who are over the age of 80, prelates he said were “distinguished for their generosity and dedication in service of the church.”
They included Italian Bishop Elio Sgreccia, retired president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, 82, who for years was one of the Vatican’s chief experts on bioethical issues. The others were Spanish Archbishop Jose Manuel Estepa Llaurens, former military ordinary of Spain, 84; German Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, retired president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, 81; and Italian Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci, retired director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, 93.