New generation of leaders

  • January 16, 2014

In choosing his first group of new cardinals, Pope Francis indicated changes for some parts of the world, but continuity for Canada.

Archbishop Gerald Lacroix of Quebec City will be one of the youngest cardinals in the world at only 56 years of age. In choosing him, the Holy Father indicated that Canada’s traditional allotment of cardinals is unlikely to change for the next generation.

The prevailing custom is that the cardinalatial red hat is given to the archbishops of certain dioceses, as well as to the heads of major departments in the Roman Curia. So New York’s archbishop is always made a cardinal, as is that of Naples. A difficulty arises however, in that as the Church expands around the world, the older sees dominate and the newer local churches are neglected. This was addressed in a major way with the expansion of the College of Cardinals from 70 to 120 in the mid-20th century, but the problem still remains. It is most acute in Italy, for if Turin, Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Naples, Palermo and the Vicar of Rome are all usually cardinals, then it leaves less room for cardinals from Mexico or Brazil for example, which have far more Catholics. With a Pope from the new world and given the grievances of Latin American bishops in this regard, this was expected to change.

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