Modernity is a good thing. Especially in the Vatican.
Pope Francis has put his progressive stamp on the American Catholic church with the selection of three new like-minded cardinals – including one who has sparred with the Republican vice-presidential nominee, Mike Pence – in a clear rejection of bishops who have advocated for the church’s exclusion of divorced and LGBT Catholics.
The American choices were among 17 new cardinals named by Francis. He has chosen more from the developing world and only one from Italy, reflecting his desire to decentralise power away from the Vatican in Rome.
In choosing these new cardinals – the “princes of the church” who serve as the pope’s primary advisers – Francis has made it more likely that his successor will be a moderate or progressive. It also partially balances out the influence of the cardinals chosen by his far more conservative predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
“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 centres of power in order to find leaders who smell of the sheep, as the pope has put it,” wrote Michael O’Loughlin, a journalist for America Magazine, a Catholic publication.