Some woke up in the middle of the night, others warned by relatives and friends with a text message. Someone even informed while he was at the airport, or at lunch with friends, when the pope announced a Consistory. It is the surprise effect of Francis, who has ‘upset’ the lives of 61 men of the Church, coming from the four corners of the earth, ‘created’ cardinals in the four consistories held by Pope Francis until now (Feb. 22, 2014, Feb. 14, 2015, Nov. 19, 2016 and June 28, 2017).
To be precise, Francis created 49 electors cardinals (since they were less than 80 years old and so entitled to enter in the Conclave) and 12 non-electors cardinal. They come from 43 countries, and 15 of these countries never had a cardinal before Francis’ pontificate.
Fabio Marchese Ragona is an Italian journalist, specialized in covering news from the Vatican and on the Catholic Church. He is the author of Tutti gli uomini di Francesco (“All the Men of Francis”), just published in Italy by ‘San Paolo’, an important Catholic Italian Publisher. The idea of Ragona was to collect all together the voices of almost all the new cardinals of Francis, revealing also the reasons, hitherto hidden, of so many unusual choices made by Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Why, for example, Francis, in his consistories, prefers the dioceses of the “end of the world” to the detriment of ancient and important cities where the Catholic archbishop was traditionally created cardinal in the past? Why not inform the new cardinals before announcing that they will receive the purple hat? Some of them in fact, when the news of being chosen by the Pope to become cardinal, then thought “It’s a joke…”
These and other doubts are now dissolved by the living voice of “All the Men of Francis”, an unpublished journey that starts from the heart of Christianity, Vatican City, and ends in Oceania (Card. Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga Island is the one living in the farthest place from Rome), crossing all the other continents. With resounding background, never revealed, even on the conclave that elected Pope Francis.
But the reader of these almost 400 pages will be surely curious to learn some funny details of the biography and the character of some of the closest cooperators of the Pontiff, as the Canonic Law describes the cardinals. One of them, as Ragona reveals, lived together with his mother and usually wore denim pants; one woke up very early to do weightlifting; one drove a motorcycle; one, when he was a child, played, by pretending to celebrate Mass. This last example was Vatican Secretary of State Card. Pietro Parolin.
“All the Men of Francis” was presented recently in the Vatican by Msgr Dario Edoardo Viganò, former Prefect of the Secretary for Communication, and Card. Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who wrote the preface of the book. “I certainly can not say what happened inside the Sistine, during the conclave, but I can tell one thing: when the figure of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires began to take shape as a possible new Pontiff, the Holy Spirit brought this reality to life, despite any obstacles.
Fabio Marchese Ragona told of how he felt blessed to present the book to the Pope that day at the General Audience and for the Pontiff’s appreciation.