Dear Brother, on the day when your appointment to the College of Cardinals is made public, I wish to send you a heartfelt greeting along with assurances of my closeness and my prayers. I hope that, as an associate of the Church of Rome, clothed in the virtues and the mind of the Lord Jesus (cf. Rom 13:14), you might be able to help me with fraternal effectiveness in service to the universal Church. The Cardinalate does not mean a promotion, nor an honor, nor a decoration. It is simply a service that requires us to widen our gaze and enlarge our heart. And although it seems a paradox, this ability to see farther into the distance and to love more universally with greater intensity can be achieved only by following the same way of the Lord: the way of bowing down [in Italian, abbassamento] and of humility, in the manner of a servant (cf. Phil 2:5 -8). Therefore I ask you, please, to accept this appointment with a simple and humble heart. And, although you should do so with happiness and with joy, do it in such a way that this sentiment is far removed from any expression of worldliness, from any celebration alien to the evangelical spirit of austerity, simplicity and poverty. We will see each other again, then, on February 20, when we will begin two days of reflection on the family. I remain at your disposal, and I ask you, please, to pray for me and to have others pray for me. May Jesus bless you and may the Blessed Virgin protect you.
The Sacred College will number 122 cardinal electors with the following profile: more Latin Americans (19) than North Americans (15), an Asian representation (13) equal to the African (13), only one from Oceania, but some Europeans (61) who symbolically lose the majority, having only 50% of the votes. This is historic, but the trend can only become more pronounced with Francis. The Pope is sovereign in this matter; his choices are therefore the reflection of his policy. Francis’ first list was anxiously awaited. And so nine of the sixteen new cardinals come from non-Western countries: there are five Latin Americans (Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Haiti, Nicaragua), two Africans (Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso), and two Asians (South Korea and the Philippines). This proportion is not spectacular but it has rarely been attained….Out of the six Europeans, four are ‘automatic’ nominations because of the posts occupied by these personages — these are ‘ministers’ of the Vatican. So it is with three Italians: the new Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, and also with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the German Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller. By this minimalist choice of Curia officials — Francis could have appointed other heads of dicasteries, for instance the French Dominican Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, achivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church — this Pope is inaugurating a new way in which the cardinal’s hat is no longer necessarily connected with a ministerial post at the Vatican. The idea is to privilege the pastors on the ground in the Church’s Senate.