The Pope’s New Cardinals


BOB ABERNETHY, host: Pope Benedict XVI named 24 new cardinals this week, increasing the number of men who will be eligible to vote for the next pope. The list includes two Americans: Archbishop Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St Louis, now head of the Vatican’s highest court. And the other, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC. Benedict also increased the percentage of Italians in the College of Cardinals, as well as the number who come from the Vatican’s bureaucracy. The new cardinals will receive their traditional “red hats” at a ceremony in Rome on November 20. We get analysis of the new list from Father Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center and an authority on the curia, the Vatican bureaucracy. Tom, welcome.


ABERNETHY: What do you see? What’s the message in this list?

REESE: Well, I think there’s two. One is continuity, and one is change. The continuity is the fact that we see Pope Benedict appointing people who basically reflect his views on church issues and where the church ought to go. So when they get together to elect a new pope, there’s not going to be radical change. We are going to see continuity with the papacy of Benedict. What change we do see, however, is that with John Paul we saw a reduction of the role of the Italians in the College of Cardinals and also of Vatican curia cardinals. Pope Benedict is reversing that. We’re seeing more Italians, and we’re seeing like half of the people appointed as cardinals were from the Vatican curia.

ABERNETHY: And what are people around the world, in the Third World especially, Latin America, Africa, other places, what do they think of that?

REESE: Well, I mean it’s interesting. Two-thirds of Catholics live in the global south but they only get one-third of the cardinals. Two-thirds of the cardinals are in the global north where one-third of the Catholics live. The Catholic Church is not a one-man, one-vote operation.

ABERNETHY: No, no. And what about in the US.? What do you make of the appointments here?

REESE: Well, they were not a surprise. We knew that Archbishop Burke, because he’s head of the supreme court of the Church, would be made a cardinal. We also knew that Archbishop Wuerl would be made a cardinal.

ABERNETHY: But the New York archbishop was not made a cardinal.

REESE: No, and the reason was his predecessor, Cardinal Egan, is still under 80 years of age, and he will be until April of 2012. After that, Archbishop Dolan is going to become a cardinal.

ABERNETHY: For sure?

REESE: For sure.

ABERNETHY: Father Tom Reese, many thanks.

REESE: Thank you.

  • Daryl Forman

    Well, the College is certainly not a democracy–it’s run by the powerful who really don’t exhibit as much compassion for the poor that Jesus hung around with back in the day…so why would they give them equal representation? The Catholic Church continues to be an Italian organization looking out for their own welfare.l

  • Channah

    And, who suports all these Cardinals? I guess I do not understand the need for so much hierachy-they say they need men in the lower branches—-the priests. It seems that these men could serve more working within the congregations.

  • cocon

    The Pope has made another move to shape the future Church — more northern and European, continued white. Not exactly like the “real” church, is it? Pick any parish church, any pew, and look at the faces there. They are different from the heirarchy’s faces, but somehow I think the church will survive and prosper.

  • michael

    Jesus taught us that He is the way the truth and the life no one comes to the father except thru Him.
    This is repeated over and over throughout scripture. He is our mediator between us and God. Jesus said when you pray do it like this. Our Father which art in heaven. My question is to all the leaders of the catholic church.
    Knowing that you only pray in Jesus name (why do you think we need to ask Mary to take our prayers to Jesus?
    Can Mary handle thousands of prayers at once? Only the divine God head can do such awesome wonders.
    So why would God need Mary’ help? This would seem that You put your trust in a mortal woman. Do you have scripture to back up that God needs Mary’ help? If we are to pray to Mary then Jesus would have mentioned it several times that He needed help. I would expect leaders of world religions to know the Bible. Surely the Holy Spirit would reveal this to you that you only pray to God.

  • grotto

    i would very much like to see cardinals come from thosde who have hands on experience with poor.

  • JoeMcCarthy

    I don’t forsee an American Pope in my lifetime, but would like more off the American Bishops elevated and Latin and South American elevations. The growth of Mother Church will be in Africa, an eleevation there woud be superb. Seems our current Pope is seeking the next Pope inpsynch with Pope Benedicts own imprint. I would be one to hope for an unconventional Pope, ssmart and as allof as John Paul II, and answer the call in Africa desparately in need of the Church’s presnce, and China that would be a Coup, in hindsight for who Catholic Faith or China