By Manuela Affejee and Linda Bordoni
We reached Archbishop Jean-Claude Höllerich by telephone on Sunday afternoon after Pope Francis’s announcement before the Angelus during which he read out the names of 13 new cardinals, from every part of the world.
Coming from North America, Central America, Africa, Europe, and Asia, the Pope said “their origin expresses the missionary vocation of the Church, which continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all people on earth.”
Höllerich revealed he was totally taken by surprise to learn that his name was amongst those who will receive the red hat.
“I am in Portugal for one week of holidays, and as I left the Church on Sunday morning, I started to receive messages of congratulations…. I didn’t know why!” he said.
When the news sunk in, his first thoughts, he said, went to the Gospel of the day which, he noted “talks about how you should not choose the best seats”.
This is something, Höllerich said, he will always bear in mind as he continues in his mission to serve the Church.
“I hope that I can always listen to that Gospel and as a Cardinal be really of service to the Pope, to the Church and to all the women and men who constitute the Church of God,” he said.
As it stands now, the College of Cardinals has 215 members, 118 of whom are electors.
Pope Francis announced his intention to add to the College of Cardinals from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square, as he addressed the faithful gathered to pray the Angelus on 1 September.