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Omaha native among 17 new cardinals

Archbishop Blasé Cupich

VATICAN CITY – An Omaha native – Chicago Archbishop Blasé Cupich – is among 17 new cardinals announced Oct. 9 by Pope Francis.

The new cardinals will be inducted into the College of Cardinals Nov. 19 and will join Pope Francis the next day for the closing Mass of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

Archbishop George J. Lucas expressed the pride of the archdiocese regarding Archbishop Cupich’s appointment. “All of us in the archdiocese are proud that Pope Francis has chosen Archbishop Cupich to become one of his trusted collaborators,” he said. “We will continue to support him with our prayers.”

Raised in South Omaha, Archbishop Cupich attended Ss. Peter and Paul Parish and school and graduated from now closed Archbishop Ryan High School before beginning his studies for the priesthood.

His first assignment after ordination in 1975 was as associate pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha. In addition to serving in several posts outside the archdiocese, Archbishop Cupich was pastor at St. Mary Parish in Bellevue and St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha.

He was serving at St. Robert Bellarmine when he was named bishop of Rapid City, S.D., in 1989. He was appointed bishop of Spokane, Wash., in 2010, serving there until his appointment to Chicago in 2014

Two other bishops from the United States are among the 17 new cardinals – Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life; and Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis.

Announcing the names of the new cardinals Pope Francis said, “Their coming from 11 nations expresses the universality of the church that proclaims and witnesses the good news of God’s mercy in every corner of the earth.”

Archbishop Cupich, 67, and 12 other new cardinals are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. The four over 80 are being honored for their Christian witness.

In creating 13 cardinal-electors – those under the age of 80 – Pope Francis will exceed by one the 120 cardinal-elector limit set by Blessed Paul VI. The number of potential electors will return to 120 Nov. 28 when Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar, Senegal, celebrates his 80th birthday.

The first of the new cardinals announced by the pope was Archbishop Mario Zenari, who, the pope explained, “will remain apostolic nuncio to the beloved and martyred Syria.”

The last of the cardinals he named was Albanian Father Ernest Simoni, a priest of the Archdiocese of Shkodre-Pult, who will turn 88 Oct. 18. He had moved Pope Francis to tears in 2014 when he spoke about his 30 years in prison or forced labor under Albania’s militant atheistic regime.

The youngest of the new cardinals – who will be the youngest member of the College of Cardinals – is 49-year-old Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic.

Seven of the 11 nations represented by the new cardinals did not have a cardinal at the time of the pope’s announcement: Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Mauritius and Papua New Guinea will now have cardinal-electors. Malayasia, Lesotho and Albania will be represented in the College of Cardinals, although their cardinals will be too old to vote in a conclave.

The new cardinals, in the order in which Pope Francis announced them:

- Archbishop Zenari, an Italian who is 70 years old.

- Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, 49.

- Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid, 71.

- Archbishop Sergio da Rocha of Brasilia, Brazil, who will be 57 Oct. 21.

- Archbishop Cupich, 67.

- Archbishop Patrick D'Rozario of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 73.

- Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela, 72.

- Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, 69.

- Archbishop Maurice Piat of Port-Louis, Mauritius, 75.

- Bishop Farrell, 69.

- Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, 66.

- Archbishop John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 59.

- Archbishop Tobin, 64.

- Retired Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 84.

- Retired Archbishop Renato Corti of Novara, Italy, 80.

- Retired Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai of Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho, 87.

- Father Simoni, 87.


Catholic Voice staff contributed to this report.

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