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03VATICAN4461 2003-09-30 04:40:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

POPE SELECTS 31 NEW CARDINALS, REINFORCING

Tags:   PREL PINR SOCI VT 
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					  UNCLAS  VATICAN 004461 

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

DEPT. FOR EUR/WE-LEVIN; EAP/BCLTV, AF/W, AF/E and INR/B
NAIROBI PLS PASS KHARTOUM EMBASSY OFFICE

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: PREL PINR SOCI VT
SUBJECT: POPE SELECTS 31 NEW CARDINALS, REINFORCING
ECCLESIASTICAL VISION AND GEOPOLITICAL REACH


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Summary
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1. (SBU) Pope John Paul II's nomination of 31 new cardinals
September 28 consolidates the group that will name his
successor, reinforces Church leaders facing threats from
Islam or restrictive regimes, and rewards several long-
serving bishops for their service to the Church. The
surprise announcement -- following repeated curial denials
that a consistory would be held during the celebrations of
the 25th anniversary of John Paul II's pontificate -- may
have also reflected a sense of urgency due to the pontiff's
recent failing health. While some names were expected --
heads of Vatican departments or leaders of major
archdioceses around the world -- others reflected the
pope's geopolitical focus on Islam, Africa and the Church's
experience of persecution. With the creation of this new
group of cardinals, John Paul II will have created 130 of
the 135 cardinals under the age of 80 and hence eligible to
vote for the next pope when the time comes -- provided they
have not reached their 80th birthday by then. While John
Paul's previous appointments had already molded the group
according to his ideological vision, the infusion of these
31 new cardinals will further ensure the election of a
like-minded successor. End Summary.



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Foreign Minister "en rouge"


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2. (SBU) Vatican Foreign Minister, French-born Archbishop
Jean-Louis Tauran, was one of seven Curia officials to be
nominated a cardinal. Tauran, 60, suffers from Parkinson's
disease and his retirement from the FM position has been
the subject of recent speculation. Tauran's resignation
will take effect October 22 when he is expected to take up
a less demanding curial position -- potentially as head of
the Vatican library and archives. Possible contenders for
the FM post include Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, an
expert on China and Vietnam, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo,
Nuncio to Germany, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, Nuncio to
Canada, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Nuncio in Ukraine.



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Reinforcing the Church Under Threat


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3. (SBU) Among the 31 newly nominated cardinals was the
Archbishop of Khartoum, Gabriel Zubier Wako. The choice of
Wako in Khartoum --- a post not traditionally filled by a
Cardinal -- demonstrates the importance the Holy See places
on the Church's status in Sudan where it has been under
pressure from Sudan's Islamicist government. Elevating
Wako is also a strong affirmation of Sudan's Catholics, who
have suffered three decades of difficulty in a powerful
Islamic milieu. Likewise, Ho Chi Minh City's archbishop,
Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, receives his red hat for
analogous reasons -- affirmation for a community pitted
against the obstructionism and detainment policy of the
Communist government. The Pope's personal experience under
oppressive regimes makes him highly sympathetic to Churches
in similar situations and thus more inclined to affirm them
with the naming of a cardinal. In addition, the Pope named
one cardinal "in pectore," whose name is not revealed, and
it is thought that this could be Archbishop Joseph Zen of
Hong Kong -- though this remains speculation.



--------------------------


Africa: Building the Church


--------------------------





4. (SBU) The rapidly growing church in Africa also
attracted the Pope's attention, resulting in a larger share
of the scarlet for the continent. The three new members
will help to redress Africa's current underrepresentation
in the College of Cardinals, though critics complain that
both Africa and Latin America still remain
underrepresented. The elevation of the Archbishop of Cape
Coast, Ghana, Peter Turkson, is a further reflection of
Pope John Paul's attention to the Muslim world, as the
Catholic Church in Ghana is challenged by a strong


proselytizing effort by Muslims. One can see similar
motives in the nomination of Nigeria's new cardinal,
Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, of Lagos -- Africa's second
largest Catholic community.



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Sole Red Hat for the US


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5. (SBU) Only one American cardinal was named --
Philadelphia's new archbishop, Justin Rigali. Rigali is a
personal friend of the Pope and served many years as a
member of the Vatican Curia. The Philadelphia seat is
traditionally held by a Cardinal. So is the Boston seat,
and thus the decision not to nominate the newly-appointed
Archbishop of Boston, Sean O'Malley, raised some eye-brows
in Vatican circles. O'Malley this July replaced Cardinal
Bernard Law, who resigned after his mishandling of the
clerical sexual abuse scandal in Boston. Although O'Malley
has already proven himself to be the right man to put the
Boston shop in order, it is unusual for an archbishop to be
created a cardinal while his predecessor is still under 80
and eligible to vote in a papal election. Still, it is
clear that Law still has strong support at the Vatican from
many who believe he was treated as a scapegoat in the sex
scandal. With the omission of O'Malley, Law was spared the
ignominy of his successor's immediate elevation to the
College of Cardinals.



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Comment


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6.(SBU) The latest brace of cardinals contains few real
surprises. Pope John Paul has nominated men he can trust
who have proven themselves faithful sons of the Church.
Additionally, the Pope has elevated to cardinal individuals
in posts traditionally filled by cardinals. As a result,
Italy gained six new cardinals, while all of Latin America,
with the largest Catholic population in the world gained
only three. While many expected the Pope to announce the
new cardinals early in 2004, it made more economic and
logistical sense to conduct the ceremony while the whole
College was gathered in Rome to celebrate his 25th
anniversary in October. Vatican officials have told us
that the slate of nominees has been ready for several
weeks. This does not discount a certain nervousness in the
Vatican about the Pope's increasingly frail health -- a
fact in evidence September 28 when the struggle to
pronounce the names of the new cardinals left him
physically exhausted and supporting his head with one hand.
Regardless of the timing of the election of the next pope,
this group will join with the current cardinals to elect a
successor from the same ecclesiastical mould as John Paul
II. Whether a successor would have a similar geopolitical
vision is less predictable. End comment.

Nicholson


NNNN


2003VATICA04461 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED