Pope Francis Sends Powerful Message with 3 New US Cardinals


John Allen writes, With Pope’s cardinal picks, Bernardin’s ‘seamless garment’ is back:

Pope Francis on Sunday engineered what may prove to be a seismic shift in the Catholic hierarchy in the United States, elevating not one or two, but a full three new American cardinals seen as belonging to the centrist, non-cultural warrior wing of the country’s hierarchy….

In one fell swoop, therefore, Francis has reshaped the character of the most senior level of the American hierarchy, steering it away from what some see as the partisan stance of the last two decades and back towards what might be described as the “consistent ethic of life” ethos associated with the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, also of Chicago.

Bernardin also used the phrase “seamless garment” to capture that view.

The outlook, while certainly defending Church teaching on matters such as abortion and euthanasia, is more inclined to see them as part of a spectrum that also includes immigration, the death penalty, the environment, concern for the poor, and so on.

Michael O’Loughlin says, New Cardinals Signal a Shift Away from the U.S. Culture Wars:

The pope’s decision to make two American archbishops cardinals is a message to other U.S. prelates that the church needs leaders less concerned with culture war issues and who are instead focused on building bridges and making the church a more welcoming place….

Archbishop Cupich is a key Francis ally on proposed reforms that supporters say could make the church more welcoming to disaffected Catholics. Archbishop Tobin’s openness toward expanded opportunities for women in the church and his support for resettling Syrian refugees, even over objections from G.O.P. vice presidential hopeful Gov. Mike Pence, put him squarely in line with the pope’s agenda….

The picks show Francis wants the church in America to be more focused on issues like immigration, the role of women in the church and the need to bypass traditional centers of power in order to find leaders who smell of the sheep, as the pope has put it.

The moves are further cues to American bishops about how the pope wants the church to be run. The big question now is whether the two new American cardinals will be able to use their papal nod of approval to steer a new course for the U.S. church.

Finally, Michael Sean Winters has offered his thoughts:

Let’s not beat around the bush. The pope has sent his clearest signal yet about the direction he intends to take the Church in the United States, and within that signal is an unmistakable rebuke to those whom I have long called the “culture warriors.” The pope did not send a red hat to Philadelphia. He did not send one to Baltimore. He did not even send one to Los Angeles, and I do not think of Archbishop Jose Gomez as a culture warrior so much as he is someone who is a tad sympathetic to the culture warrior crowd. In a normal consistory, people would say, “Well, there wasn’t room for another American.” There was room when a hat is sent to Indianapolis. The pope not only chose these three, he did not choose others….

These three bishops have long been recognized as among the most intellectually formidable bishops in the country. They are all three of them “smell of the sheep” kinds of pastors as well. Archbishop Cupich got his start as a bishop in Rapid City, South Dakota, a land of intense rural poverty, especially on the Indian reservations. Archbishop Tobin is one of the few Latin rite bishops I have seen go to the Catholic Worker dinner held during the annual USCCB meetings in November. And Bishop Farrell took over the Centro Hispanico here in Washington, a social service center run by the Church, when friar Sean O’Malley was named a bishop.