Viewing cable 03VATICAN4461
Title: POPE SELECTS 31 NEW CARDINALS, REINFORCING

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03VATICAN44612003-09-30 04:40:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vatican
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS  VATICAN 004461 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/WE-LEVIN; EAP/BCLTV, AF/W, AF/E and INR/B 
NAIROBI PLS PASS KHARTOUM EMBASSY OFFICE 
 
E.O. 12958 N/A 
TAGS: PREL PINR SOCI VT
SUBJECT: POPE SELECTS 31 NEW CARDINALS, REINFORCING 
ECCLESIASTICAL VISION AND GEOPOLITICAL REACH 
 
 
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Summary 
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¶1. (SBU) Pope John Paul II's nomination of 31 new cardinals 
September 28 consolidates the group that will name his 
successor, reinforces Church leaders facing threats from 
Islam or restrictive regimes, and rewards several long- 
serving bishops for their service to the Church.  The 
surprise announcement -- following repeated curial denials 
that a consistory would be held during the celebrations of 
the 25th anniversary of John Paul II's pontificate -- may 
have also reflected a sense of urgency due to the pontiff's 
recent failing health.  While some names were expected -- 
heads of Vatican departments or leaders of major 
archdioceses around the world -- others reflected the 
pope's geopolitical focus on Islam, Africa and the Church's 
experience of persecution.  With the creation of this new 
group of cardinals, John Paul II will have created 130 of 
the 135 cardinals under the age of 80 and hence eligible to 
vote for the next pope when the time comes -- provided they 
have not reached their 80th birthday by then.  While John 
Paul's previous appointments had already molded the group 
according to his ideological vision, the infusion of these 
31 new cardinals will further ensure the election of a 
like-minded successor.  End Summary. 
 
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Foreign Minister "en rouge" 
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¶2. (SBU) Vatican Foreign Minister, French-born Archbishop 
Jean-Louis Tauran, was one of seven Curia officials to be 
nominated a cardinal.  Tauran, 60, suffers from Parkinson's 
disease and his retirement from the FM position has been 
the subject of recent speculation.  Tauran's resignation 
will take effect October 22 when he is expected to take up 
a less demanding curial position -- potentially as head of 
the Vatican library and archives.  Possible contenders for 
the FM post include Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, an 
expert on China and Vietnam, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, 
Nuncio to Germany, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, Nuncio to 
Canada, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Nuncio in Ukraine. 
 
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Reinforcing the Church Under Threat 
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¶3. (SBU) Among the 31 newly nominated cardinals was the 
Archbishop of Khartoum, Gabriel Zubier Wako.  The choice of 
Wako in Khartoum --- a post not traditionally filled by a 
Cardinal -- demonstrates the importance the Holy See places 
on the Church's status in Sudan where it has been under 
pressure from Sudan's Islamicist government.  Elevating 
Wako is also a strong affirmation of Sudan's Catholics, who 
have suffered three decades of difficulty in a powerful 
Islamic milieu.  Likewise, Ho Chi Minh City's archbishop, 
Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, receives his red hat for 
analogous reasons -- affirmation for a community pitted 
against the obstructionism and detainment policy of the 
Communist government.  The Pope's personal experience under 
oppressive regimes makes him highly sympathetic to Churches 
in similar situations and thus more inclined to affirm them 
with the naming of a cardinal.  In addition, the Pope named 
one cardinal "in pectore," whose name is not revealed, and 
it is thought that this could be Archbishop Joseph Zen of 
Hong Kong -- though this remains speculation. 
 
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Africa: Building the Church 
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¶4. (SBU) The rapidly growing church in Africa also 
attracted the Pope's attention, resulting in a larger share 
of the scarlet for the continent.   The three new members 
will help to redress Africa's current underrepresentation 
in the College of Cardinals, though critics complain that 
both Africa and Latin America still remain 
underrepresented.  The elevation of the Archbishop of Cape 
Coast, Ghana, Peter Turkson, is a further reflection of 
Pope John Paul's attention to the Muslim world, as the 
Catholic Church in Ghana is challenged by a strong 
 
 
proselytizing effort by Muslims.  One can see similar 
motives in the nomination of Nigeria's new cardinal, 
Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, of Lagos -- Africa's second 
largest Catholic community. 
 
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Sole Red Hat for the US 
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¶5. (SBU) Only one American cardinal was named -- 
Philadelphia's new archbishop, Justin Rigali.  Rigali is a 
personal friend of the Pope and served many years as a 
member of the Vatican Curia.  The Philadelphia seat is 
traditionally held by a Cardinal.  So is the Boston seat, 
and thus the decision not to nominate the newly-appointed 
Archbishop of Boston, Sean O'Malley, raised some eye-brows 
in Vatican circles.  O'Malley this July replaced Cardinal 
Bernard Law, who resigned after his mishandling of the 
clerical sexual abuse scandal in Boston.  Although O'Malley 
has already proven himself to be the right man to put the 
Boston shop in order, it is unusual for an archbishop to be 
created a cardinal while his predecessor is still under 80 
and eligible to vote in a papal election.  Still, it is 
clear that Law still has strong support at the Vatican from 
many who believe he was treated as a scapegoat in the sex 
scandal.  With the omission of O'Malley, Law was spared the 
ignominy of his successor's immediate elevation to the 
College of Cardinals. 
 
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Comment 
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6.(SBU) The latest brace of cardinals contains few real 
surprises.  Pope John Paul has nominated men he can trust 
who have proven themselves faithful sons of the Church. 
Additionally, the Pope has elevated to cardinal individuals 
in posts traditionally filled by cardinals.  As a result, 
Italy gained six new cardinals, while all of Latin America, 
with the largest Catholic population in the world gained 
only three.  While many expected the Pope to announce the 
new cardinals early in 2004, it made more economic and 
logistical sense to conduct the ceremony while the whole 
College was gathered in Rome to celebrate his 25th 
anniversary in October.  Vatican officials have told us 
that the slate of nominees has been ready for several 
weeks.  This does not discount a certain nervousness in the 
Vatican about the Pope's increasingly frail health -- a 
fact in evidence September 28 when the struggle to 
pronounce the names of the new cardinals left him 
physically exhausted and supporting his head with one hand. 
Regardless of the timing of the election of the next pope, 
this group will join with the current cardinals to elect a 
successor from the same ecclesiastical mould as John Paul 
II.  Whether a successor would have a similar geopolitical 
vision is less predictable.  End comment. 
 
Nicholson 
 
 
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 2003VATICA04461 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED