VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 28, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II has always surprised observers when choosing new cardinals. His latest announcement is no exception.
Among the least expected names in the announcement of 31 new cardinals today is that of Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum. For years Christians in Sudan have been victims of the civil war and Islamization campaigns.
Also significant is the naming of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, a country where the government still tries to retain tight control over the Catholic Church and has not established diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
Archbishop Rodolfo Quezada Toruño of Guatemala City is another surprise. He played a key role in bringing to an end the civil war that raged in his country for 36 years.
Together with Bishop Juan Gerardi, the future cardinal was a member of the National Reconciliation Commission. At one point he became the commission’s president and official conciliator between the government and the guerrillas of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit, in a peace process that culminated in 1996. Bishop Gerardi was murdered in April 1998.
Vatican correspondents who listed possible names of cardinals on the eve of the papal announcement did not mention names such as that of Archbishop Anthony Olumbunmi Okogie of Lagos, Nigeria; Archbishop Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Cape Coast, Ghana; Archbishop Telesphore Placidus Toppo of Ranchi, India; or Archbishop Peter Erdö of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary.
Additional surprises were Archbishop Keith O’Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh — the former cardinal of Scotland was from Glasgow — and Archbishop Carlos Amigo Vallejo, who has led the Archdiocese of Seville, Spain, since 1982.
The names of archbishops that were expected included those of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Sydney, Australia; Lyon, France; Rio de Janeiro; Zagreb, Croatia; and the Italian cities of Venice, Florence and Genoa.
The appointment of priests who are either 80 or close to 80 is always a surprise in every consistory. The Pope chooses them for reasons of personal merit; those 80 or older could not vote in a future conclave.
On this occasion, the priests were Swiss Dominican Father Georges Cottier, Papal Household theologian and secretary of the International Theological Commission, and Monsignor Gustaaf Joos, canon of the Diocese of Gand in Belgium.
Two other priests named are Czech Republic Jesuit Father Thomas Spidlik, who preached the Spiritual Exercises for the Pope and Roman Curia in 1995, encouraging the Pope to write the encyclical “Ut Unum Sint” on ecumenism; and Father Stanislas Nagy of the priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Poland.
John Paul II’s named a 31st cardinal “in pectore,” whose name he has not yet revealed. In previous consistories, the Pope did not announce such names as they were pastors in countries where Catholics were persecuted or where their appointment might have created misunderstandings.
On Feb. 21, 2001, the Holy Father revealed the names of the two last cardinals “in pectore” (designated in the consistory of Feb. 21, 1998). They were Cardinal Marian Jaworski, archbishop of Lviv of the Latins, in Ukraine; and Cardinal Janis Pujats, archbishop of Riga, Latvia.