Archbishop Wilton Gregory
Archbishop Wilton Gregory
VATICAN CITY — With Pope Francis’ new picks for the College of Cardinals, the body will be more religious than ever — in the sense that the number of cardinals coming from religious orders will rise to 51.

The Jesuit pope’s confreres do not lead the tally; in first place are members of the Salesian order, which has nine cardinals. The Jesuits come next with seven.

Those who will receive their red hats Nov. 28 come from eight countries, including Brunei and Rwanda, which have never had cardinals before. They will bring the total number of cardinals to 231 from 91 countries.

For the first time, the number of countries represented by members of the College of Cardinals will exceed 90; it was only three years ago — at the consistory to create cardinals in June 2017 — that the number first topped 80 nations.

It is no surprise that the new cardinals seem to match the pope’s pastoral sensibilities. The average age of cardinals eligible to elect a pope (those under 80) is 72.

In the order that Pope Francis named them, here is a look at the 13 new cardinals:

• Maltese Bishop Mario Grech, 63, became secretary general of the Synod of Bishops in September. As pro-secretary-general, Bishop Grech participated in the 2019 Synod of Bishops for the Amazon. This summer, Bishop Grech spoke to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “The common good demands that access to justice, political representation, and the recognition of the dignity of others are not the privilege of the rich, but rather should be accessible especially to the weak and vulnerable,” he said.

• Italian Bishop Marcello Semeraro, 72, was named prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in October after the previous prefect left amid financial scandal. Bishop Semeraro studied at the Puglia regional seminary in Molfetta before beginning studies at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, where he earned a doctorate in theology. Ordained to the priesthood in 1971, he taught dogmatic theology in Puglia and at the Lateran University. St. John Paul II named him bishop of Oria in 1998 and bishop of Albano, just outside of Rome, in 2004.

• Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda, 62, lost his parents and five of six siblings in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Earlier, his family had fled inter-ethnic violence but he returned to his homeland and was ordained in 1990 by St. John Paul. After the genocide, he led the Justice and Peace Commission of the Kigali Diocese as well as the Caritas ministry to the needy. He was a professor of moral theology before being named a bishop by Pope Francis in 2013.

• Archbishop Wilton Gregory, 72, was Archbishop of Atlanta before being named last year to head the archdiocese in the U.S. capital. The first African-American cardinal, he has lately been speaking out for racial justice. “Are we not called to see Christ in every face and to hear him in every voice, no matter what race or ethnic backgrounds those faces and voices may represent?” he said Sept. 9. A priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, he was made an auxiliary bishop there and then was Bishop of Belleville, Illinois. He served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001 to 2004.

• Archbishop Jose Advincula, 68, has led the Archdiocese of Capiz, Philippines, since 2011. A former seminary spiritual director and professor, he has studied both psychology and canon law. He has been a seminary rector and a canon lawyer for his archdiocese. Pope John Paul made him a bishop in 2001 and Pope Benedict named him to Capiz in 2011. He has served on commissions regarding indigenous peoples, women in the church and family life. “Protecting human rights is never an option,” he said after being named a cardinal-elect, “They are at the heart of every church’s mission. The dignity of the human person is the key to social problems that beset a nation.”

• Archbishop Celestino Aos Braco, 75, is archbishop of Santiago, Chile. Born in Spain, he was ordained a Capuchin priest in 1968. A psychologist, he did research and taught and was chosen as superior of his religious order. Pope Francis made him a bishop in 2014 and archbishop in 2019. Archbishop Aos Braco was charged with leading the Chilean church after poor handling of clergy sex abuse brought down his predecessor.

• Bishop Cornelius Sim, 69, is apostolic vicar of Brunei. An engineer trained in Scotland, he also studied theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Ordained in 1989, he was Brunei’s first priest born locally. St. John Paul named him Prefect of the Apostolic Prefecture of Brunei in 1997. He was ordained a bishop in 2005. There are about 21,000 Catholics in Brunei, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim.

• Archbishop Paolo Lojudice’s work in Rome’s rough outskirts earned him such titles as “street priest” and “bishop of the Roma” community. But the 56-year-old, who now is archbishop of the medieval Tuscan city of Siena, said he is just “a bishop of the people of God.” He has worked with immigrants, Roma forcibly evicted from their camps, the poor, young sex workers and Mafia-controlled neighborhoods.

• The youngest of the new cardinals is Conventual Franciscan Father Mauro Gambetti, custos of the Sacred Convent of Assisi, Italy, who turned 55 Oct. 27. Trained as an engineer, he took final vows as a Franciscan in 1998 and was ordained in 2000. He has been chosen as superior of his community and was its vocation director. St. Francis, and his peaceful, nature-loving and faithful ways, are clearly important to the pope who took his name.

• Mexican Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, the 80-year-old retired bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, has long been recognized for his care of indigenous people. He was ordained a bishop in 1991 and served in the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas from 2000 to 2015. He has a reputation for being theologically conservative but socially progressive. He often defended his predecessor, who came under fire for defending native people and their struggle for rights.

• Italian Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, 80, has not lived full time in the United States since 1989. But he said he feels “more American than anything else.” Cardinal-designate Tomasi, a Scalabrinian, thinks the pope chose him because he belongs “to a small religious family that for over a century has been working with migrants and refugees and displaced people and people on the margins of society.” That work is a papal priority. The soon-to-be cardinal is a retired nuncio and Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva.

• Italian Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, 86, has been preacher of the papal household for 40 years. He studied classical literature and was a professor of ancient Christianity. He was a member of a delegation that dialogued with Pentecostal Christians. In 1980, St. John Paul chose him to give homilies during Advent and Lent to the pope and the curia. It is an influential assignment. When not preaching, he lives in a hermitage and ministers to a small community of cloistered nuns.

• Italian Father Enrico Feroci, 80, is former director of Rome’s Caritas, a massive Catholic charitable organization. “I am a pastor,” he said after finding he would be a cardinal. He is former rector of Rome’s popular Shrine of Divine Love. He served many years at seminaries and at Rome parishes.