In a letter to the 19 new cardinals he has named, Pope Francis told the prelates, “The Cardinalate does not signify a promotion, or an honor, or a decoration. It is simply a service that calls for enlarging one’s vision and widening one’s heart.” Calling on them to accept the designation with humility, the Holy Father told the newly-appointed Cardinals to also “receive the appointment in the spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.”
Thus, the Franciscan reform further defines Pope Francis’ concept of ministry at all levels as servant leadership, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). This represents a radical new understanding of the cardinalate.
In addition, the appointments represent the pope’s determination to move to a broader and more collegial leadership, from the center to the periphery. Recalling his words to the superiors general of men’s religious orders, to look at something from the periphery, the pope explained, meant “analyzing reality through a variety of viewpoints, rather than filtering all experience through a centralized ideology.”
Please join me in praying that God will guide these new cardinals.