Pope assigns new cardinals to congregations, councils

Vatican City — Three months after he gave 19 new cardinals their red hats, Pope Francis gave new responsibilities to the 16 who are under the age of 80.

Cardinals assist the pope in governing the Catholic church and do so most visibly as members of Vatican congregations and pontifical councils; the assignments often reflect a mix of the cardinal's personal expertise and geographic provenance.

In the appointments announced Thursday, German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was named a member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and four other offices.

Müller has been involved in monitoring and holding ongoing talks with the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious; in 2012, his office ordered a major reform of the group, which includes the superiors general of most women's congregations in the United States.

Among other assignments for the new cardinals:

  • Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, was named a member of the congregations for Eastern Churches, Bishops and the Evangelization of Peoples.
  • English Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster was named a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the congregations for Eastern Churches, Bishops and Clergy.
  • Canadian Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec, a former missionary with the Pius X Secular Institute, was named a member of the congregation for religious and the pontifical councils for Interreligious Dialogue and for Culture.
  • Philippine Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, who is involved in Catholic-Muslim dialogue, also was named to the interreligious dialogue council, as well as the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

None of the new cardinals was named a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is charged with promoting and safeguarding Catholic doctrine, as well as with investigating priests accused of sexually abusing children.

The Congregation for Bishops, which assists the pope in nominating new bishops, received five new members. In addition to Parolin and Nichols, three new Italian cardinals were named members of the congregation: Cardinals Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve; Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops; and Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.

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