ROME (Crux Now) — Because he’s such a beguiling media personality, Pope Francis says and does lots of things that get spun as revolutionary but really aren’t. Saying Catholics don’t have to breed “like rabbits,” for instance, is irresistible as a sound-bite, but remarkably old-hat as official teaching.
Saturday, however, shapes up as the real deal, perhaps the most revolutionary day so far in Francis’ two-year run.
By creating 20 new cardinals from all around the world on that day, this first pope from the developing world is poised to change Catholicism forever — not in terms of the ideology of left v. right, perhaps, but definitely in terms of the geography of north v. south.
Equally consequential, this is the second consistory of Francis’ reign, meaning the ceremony in which new cardinals are inducted, and it cements impressions that Francis has overhauled the criteria for making these all-important picks.
It used to be that one rose through the clerical ranks and won a job that automatically came with a cardinal’s red hat, such as becoming the archbishop of Venice or Paris or Chicago. Today, however, Francis is skipping over those traditionally entitled venues to lift up eminences from smaller dioceses and essentially random places, literally all over the map.