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Fr Michael Czerny, SJ: a new Cardinal for the peripheries

One of those who will receive the red hat on 5 October, is Jesuit priest Fr Michael Czerny. He speaks of his reaction when he heard Pope Francis had chosen to name him a Cardinal, and of the 'providential signs' that accompanied the news.

By Fr Manuel Cubías & Linda Bordoni

Among the 13 new Cardinals that Pope Francis announced this month is Father Michael Czerny, SJ, the Under-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

This Section deals specifically with issues concerning migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking, and has special attention to issues pertaining to the needs of those who are forced to abandon their countries or those who are without one.

The Cardinal-elect spoke to Vatican News’ Fr Manuel Cubías about his nomination, and about what it means to those who live on the peripheries.

“I found myself on the outskirts of Sao Paolo in Brazil”, Fr Czerny said, when he received the news Pope Francis had named him as Cardinal.

He explained said that it came as he participated in a meeting of Popular Movements from Latin America that were preparing to make their contribution to the upcoming Synod on the Amazon.

Providential signs

“They welcomed the news, and in a sense they helped me to welcome the news, too,” he said,  revealing that finding himself there, with them, “with the people who are on the peripheries and who are often not taken into account at all, was a real sign”.

Fr Czerny recalled that Pope Francis has said to them: “without you, there is no solution.”

“I believe,” he continued, “that for the Church it is very important to learn how to accompany the Popular Movements,” and he said it is important for them to learn that the Church is ready and willing to accompany them.

“So this was one very beautiful - and I think very providential sign - at the moment of receiving the nomination,” he said.

The other providential sign, he said, is that a few hours later came a message from one of the rescue ships in Mediterranean, the ‘Mare Jonio’, which was blocked outside of Lampedusa (and banned from docking). That message, Fr Czerny said, expressed joy and a feeling of recognition on the part of the migrants and of those assisting them.

A caress on the part of Pope Francis

“When they received the news of my nomination and that of Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, who is very close to the Popular Movements and other marginalized groups, they said they felt it was like a hug, a caress on the part of Pope Francis, and a welcome gesture on the part of God to them,” he said.

And to me, Fr Czerny concluded, “this is also a providential sign associated to the moment I discovered I was going to become a Cardinal”.

16 September 2019, 13:19