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Pope Francis presides during the Consistory creating new Cardinals in October 5, 2019 Pope Francis presides during the Consistory creating new Cardinals in October 5, 2019  (Vatican Media)

New Cardinal-elects express surprise and gratitude

Reaction from the clerics Pope Francis has chosen to collaborate with him as Cardinals is beginning to come in. As Vatican News becomes aware of their reactions, we will continue to post them here.

Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda

Archbishop Kambanda says the telephone call came as a huge surprise to him and that he only truly believed it when he heard his name read out during Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus.

“I had never dreamed of being a Cardinal”, he told Vatican News’ Jean-Pierre Bodjoko, “it was the Lord who wanted it”. Archbsishop Kambanda is the first Rwandan Cardinal in the country’s history, being appointed 26 years after the genocide.

Archbishop Kambanda says his appointment is a "challenge” for him: on top of the role of evangelisation, he says, "I could also bear witness, to what could be shared with others who also suffer from violent conflicts and the tearing apart of communities. I thank the Lord for this grace that works in His Church, which is currently facing several challenges. We must therefore work hard to transmit and make the message of salvation understood." His appointment, he concludes, "is all at once a joy, a great responsibility and a challenge.”

Archbishop Jose Advincula of Capiz, Philippines

Archbishop Advincula of Capiz, said he had absolutely no idea that he would be elevated to the rank of cardinal. He did not want to believe what he was hearing, afraid that maybe there had been an “error in communication”.

There are at least three bishops in Panay Island with “Jose” as their first name so he said, “maybe they got the wrong surname”.

Once his name was read out by Pope Francis on Sunday, Archbishop Advincula says his feeling of joy was much smaller than that of responsibility.

 “My initial reaction is the fear of that responsibility,” he said. “If there is that feeling of joy, it’s very small because my feelings are focused on the responsibility that is given to me.”

Archbishop Advincula also asked for more prayers as a new responsibility is asked of him in the Church.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory

Cardinal-elect Wilton Gregory released the following statement on the news from the Vatican this morning: 

“With a very grateful and humble heart, I thank Pope Francis for this appointment which will allow me to work more closely with him in caring for Christ’s Church.”

Archbishop Gregory is originally from Chicago and was Archbishop of Atlanta, GA prior to being appointed as the Archbishop of the nation’s capital in May 2019. He is the first African-American to be elevated to the College of Cardinals.

Father Mauro Gambetti, OFM Conv

The spokesperson for the Sacro Convent in Assisi, Father Enzo Fortunato, released the reaction of Cardinal-elect Father Mauro Gambetti, the monastery’s Guardian. This is one of the “Pope’s jokes”, were the first words he said after learning of his elevation. The statement continued saying:

“I gratefully and joyfully welcome this news in the spirit of obedience to the Church and in service to all humanity in this time that is so difficult for all of us. I entrust my path to St Francis and make my own his words about fraternity. This is a gift I will share with all of God’s children on the path of love and compassion toward the neighbor, our brother or sister.”

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi

Archbishop Tomasi stated: “I am totally surprised and I am grateful to the Pope for thinking of me.” He continued saying it is an honor not only for himself but also for his community, the Scalabrinian fathers and is a recognition of the diplomatic service he carried out on the Holy See’s behalf.

“It’s a combination of elements that converge in this recognition. I feel very grateful to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and I think this recognition demands a further commitment to the service of the Church and of the Holy See.”

Monsignore Enrico Feroci, Pastor of the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love

Msgr Feroci says he found out he had been elevated to the College of Cardinals at 12:20 just as he was preparing to celebrate the 12:30 Mass. He said people were congratulating him and he had no idea what they were referring to. He interprets the Pope’s appointment not directed solely to him personally, but “to all the priests of Rome”. He continued saying that the priest is the one who “gives his hands to the Bishops in order to touch the Body of Christ which is the People of God. Therefore, Pope Francis wanted to thank the hands of so many priests”. Msgr Feroci also said he has not yet been able to speak with or thank Pope Francis, but he hopes to do that soon. 

This article was updated on Monday, 26 October

25 October 2020, 16:30