Pope Surprises by Nominating Five More Cardinals
Pope John Paul II on Sunday named five additional cardinals, in a surprise move a week after naming a record 37 new cardinals ahead of a consistory next month, the Vatican announced.
The five are Bishop Karl Lehmann, the chairman of the German episcopal conference, Ukrainian Bishop Lubomyr Husar, Bolivian Archbishop Julio Terrazas Sandoval, South African Archbishop Wilfrid Fox Napier and another German, Archbishop of Paderborn Johannes Joachim Degenhart.
The pope also released the names of two cardinals whose identity had been kept secret ("in pectore", or in his heart) for political or other reasons since the last consistory -- a formal gathering of cardinals presided over by the pope -- in 1998.
They are both archbishops from former Soviet republics: Ukrainian Marian Jaworski and the Latvian Janis Pujats.
While the pope had been expected to reveal the identity of the two cardinals already appointed, the announcement of five new cardinals took observers by surprise.
The pope said his appointments of the bishops Husar and the two archbishops from the former Soviet republics, was to pay hommage to the eastern tradition of the Catholic Church.
Bishop Husar in particular will be responsible for the pope's visit to Ukraine in June, which has become the focus of tension between the Vatican and leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Orthodox Church has asked for the visit to be postponed until ongoing disputes between the two Churches over control of parishes and Orthodox allegations of Roman Catholic proselytising.
It has made it clear that it will sever all ties with Rome if the request is not respected.
The nomination of Germany's Bishop Lehmann, on the other hand, is seen as a gesture of conciliation to the liberal wing of the Catholic Church there.
Lehmann is a liberal and for several months now, the church in Germany has been at odds with the Vatican over the issue of abortion.
The five new positions will be confirmed at a consistory on February 21.
They are being created in the College of Cardinals, which will eventually elect John Paul II's successor.
The new cardinals will replace those in the present panel who have died or have become too old to vote for a successor.
With the new appointments, the college will have 185 members, including 135 who are younger than 80, after which a cardinal becomes too old to vote.
By the time of the consistory next month, another two cardinals will have become too old to vote -- and by the end of the year, the figure of cardinals young enough to vote will have dropped to 129 -- VATICAN (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)