Pope chooses 21 new cardinals, 6 from Asia

New consistory for Aug. 27 announced at Regina Caeli. The new cardinals include Korea's Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; the archbishops of Dili (East Timor) and Singapore, Goa and Hyderabad (India); and the apostolic prefect of Mongolia. The Asian continent will touch a record number of 21 cardinal electors out of a college of 132.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis will hold a consistory on Aug. 27 for the creation of 21 new cardinals, as many as six of whom are from Asia. The pontiff announced this today at the end of the Regina Caeli Marian prayer, presided over before the faithful in St. Peter's Square. Francis explained that the consistory for the creation of the new cardinals - the eighth of his pontificate - will be preceded on June 28 and 29 by a meeting of all the cardinals in Rome to study and analyze the apostolic constitution "Praedicate Evangelium" with which he reformed the Roman Curia and which will come into effect next June 5.

Of the 21 new cardinals, 16 will be electors, while five others are over the age of 80 and therefore will not enter a future conclave.

Three of the new cardinal electors come from the Roman Curia: they are Korea's Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Britain's Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship; and Spain's Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the Vatican Governorate.

In choosing the other 13 new cardinal electors Francis still looked with particular attention to Asia, also calling pastors from its peripheries or from very small Catholic communities: there are in fact Italian Giorgio Marengo, a Consolata missionary and apostolic prefect of Ulanbaatar in Mongolia; Archbishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili in East Timor; the two Indian prelates Filipe Neri António Sebastião do Rosário Ferrão Archbishop of Goa and Anthony Poola Archbishop of Hyderabad; and Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye of Singapore. The other new cardinal titulars of dioceses are Archbishop of Como (Italy) Oscar Cantoni, Archbishop of Marseille Jean-Marc Aveline, Archbishop of Ekwulobia (Nigeria) Peter Okpaleke, Archbishop of Wa (Ghana) Richard Kuuia Baawobr, the two Brazilian prelates Leonardo Ulrich Steiner Archbishop of Manaus and Paulo Cezar Costa Archbishop of Brasilia, Archbishop of Asunción (Paraguay) Adalberto Martínez Flores, and Archbishop of San Diego (United States) Robert Walter McElroy.

The five new cardinals over 80, on the other hand, are Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal Archbishop Emeritus of Cartagena (Colombia), Lucas Van Looy Archbishop Emeritus of Ghent (Belgium), Arrigo Miglio Archbishop Emeritus of Cagliari (Italy), Jesuit theologian Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda and Msgr. Fortunato Frezza, canon of St. Peter's Basilica.

With this new composition among the 132 cardinal electors as many as 21 will be prelates from Asia or engaged in their ministry in Asia.

Before the Regina Caeli prayer, recalling that in Italy and in many countries the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated today, Pope Francis had invited people to ask themselves what this event means.

He said "to answer this question, let us dwell on two actions that Jesus performs before ascending to Heaven: He first announces the gift of the Spirit and then blesses the disciples. With the gift of the Spirit Jesus tells us that "He is not abandoning the disciples. He ascends to Heaven, but He does not leave us alone." And through this gift "we see Jesus' love for us: his is a presence that does not want to limit our freedom. On the contrary, he makes room for us, because true love always generates a closeness that does not crush, but makes us protagonists."

The second action - the blessing of the apostles is instead a priestly gesture. "Jesus," the Pope said, "goes up to the Father to intercede on our behalf, to present him with our humanity. Thus, before the eyes of the Father, there are and always will be, with the humanity of Jesus, our lives, our hopes, our wounds. He goes to prepare a place for us and, as of now, intercedes for us, so that we may always be accompanied and blessed by the Father."

Hence the questions Francis addressed to the faithful: "Let us ask ourselves if we are really witnesses of the Gospel; and also if we are capable of loving others by leaving them free and making space for them. And then: do we know how to make ourselves intercessors for others, that is, do we know how to pray for them and bless their lives? Or do we serve others for our own interests? Let us learn this," Francis concluded, "intercessory prayer, interceding for the hopes and sufferings of the world, for peace. And let us bless with our gaze and words those we meet every day."

After the prayer, the pontiff then recalled the World Day for Social Communications-which the Church is celebrating worldwide today-recalling how listening is "the first gesture of charity and the first indispensable ingredient of dialogue."

Finally, he invited the faithful to join him on May 31 in praying the Rosary for peace, which he will preside at the basilica of St. Mary Major in connection with many shrines around the world.