VATICAN CITY, Italy – Pope Francis has appointed 13 new cardinals during a ceremony at the Vatican on Saturday, many of whom symbolize his priorities for the Catholic Church during his papacy and ultimately, his legacy.
The Pontiff’s new cardinals have defended the commitment to fighting populism, supported the inclusion of gay Catholics, sought to improve inter-religious dialogue with Muslim communities, and expressed concern with the environment and youth issues, according to their biographies.
The appointments, which can be compared to the selection of cabinet ministers upon a new government, come from countries such as Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Indonesia, Morocco, Cuba or Guatemala — representing “the Church’s missionary outreach and universal character,” according to Vatican News.
Among his picks, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Miguel Guixot, the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Guixot has a long history of working with Muslim leaders on religious cooperation, having spearheaded talks with Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb of Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque, and represents Pope Francis’ push for interreligious dialogue between Catholics and Muslims.
As does Cristobal Romero, archbishop of Rabat, is representative “of the church in North Africa,” Vatican News writes.
British citizen Michael Louis Fitzgerald has worked with people “from other faiths, especially from the Arab culture,” and Indonesian Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, who will work as a bridge to South East Asia and to Indonesia, a country “with the biggest Muslim following in the world,” Vatican News says.
Newly minted Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna is a supporter of LGBT Catholics, writing an essay for the Italian version of a book on how the Catholic church can reach out to the gay community, according to a tweet by the book’s author, the American Jesuit priest James Martin.
Pope Francis also appointed Jean-Claude Hollerich from Luxembourg, who has been outspoken about the importance of fighting populism and protecting migrants.
Alvaro Imeri, from Guatemala, was also picked because of “his openness to dialogue, especially among indigenous people and migrants.”
Archbishop of Kinshasa, DRC, Fridolin Besungu was also appointed to contribute to peace in his country and the region.