The pope’s selection of candidates is a drastic departure from usual protocol; Pontiff says the new cardinals represent the “universality of the church.”
Pope Francis made a startling choice of new cardinals before his upcoming meeting with Donald Trump. Having appointed cardinals from countries such as Sweden, Laos and Mali, where Catholics are a minority, the pope made a radical departure from the Vatican’s traditional system of appointing cardinals from core Catholic nations.

The pope has appointed a total of five new cardinals, the other two from Spain and El Salvador. The pope’s unusual choice of candidates has startled even those close to the pontiff, sources revealed. This is the second-time Pope Francis has made unusual choices of cardinals in his tenure. Previously, he appointed cardinals from countries such as Syria and from American cities that were otherwise thought to be of less significance. Perhaps the pope’s choices are reflective of his desire to make the Church an institution that belongs to everyone, underlining the fact each member of the Church was equally important.

To some, the pope’s choices appear to be a political move because the bishops he has been appointing are those who support his radical reforms. Conservative cardinals and bishops who have been so far pushing for a more rigid church may now face a shift in power thanks to the pope’s appointment of cardinals from dioceses that are small or otherwise not very special. In any case, the new wave of cardinals will definitely make the church more global and less Rome-centric. Besides, a significant number of cardinals who want a more modernized church means after him, there will be a better chance of Church leaders that are equally modern in their approach.

The appointment of a cardinal from Sweden is significant because the country is largely Lutheran Protestant, and the pope had recently been there, trying to pave the way for unity between the Protestant and Catholic churches. Mali is largely Muslim, and Laos is a communist country where the Catholic church is struggling to survive.

The appointment of Monsignor Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos;  Monsignor Juan Jose Omella, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez, an auxiliary bishop, San Salvador, El Salvador; Monsignor Anders Arborelius, bishop of Stockholm; Monsignor Jean Zerbo, archbishop of Bamako, Mali, for the pope is something that “manifests the universality of the Church spread out all over the Earth.”

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