VATICAN CITY, Nov. 19 (UPI) — Pope Francis on Saturday confirmed 17 new members of the College of Cardinals while pleading with the world to reject the hostilities being directed against immigrants and refugees.
During his homily at the ceremony, Francis implored the cardinals in attendance and millions of Catholics across the world to fight against the “growing animosity” between people of differing racial, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
“We live at a time in which polarization and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts,” he said.
Francis called out those who “raise walls, build barriers and label people.”
The papal audience receiving the homily was a significant one. Cardinals, sometimes referred to as the “princes of the church,” serve to elect the next pope. Francis, 79, has moved quickly to appoint new cardinals. Only those younger than 80 are included in the conclave to elect a new pope and 13 of the 17 cardinals Francis appointed Saturday are young enough they would be included.
With Saturday’s new additions 44 of the 121 cardinals eligible to vote have been appointed by Francis, though still about two-thirds of voting cardinals were appointed by his predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II. Benedict and John Paul were seen as more theologically conservative than Francis, and popes often select cardinals who are in line with their theology, though that is not always the case. Cardinals selected by the conservatives Benedict and John Paul elected Francis, who has turned away from many of the more conservative parts of Catholic dogma over marriage, homosexuality and gender roles, to embrace a missionary-centered vision of the church that is focused more on serving the poor and protecting the vulnerable.
Among the 17 new cardinals, three are from the United States. They include Monsignor Joseph Tobin or Indianapolis, who is set to become the archbishop of Newark, N.J. Tobin made headlines when he defied then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, now the vice president-elect, by accepting Syrian refugees to live in Indianapolis. Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago was selected, as well. He has provided outreach to the international LGBT community in his role as a special delegate to the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the family. Finally, former Dallas Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell, who was born in Ireland, was confirmed.
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