Following the Regina Coeli prayer on Sunday, May 29, 2022, the Holy Father announced the creation of 21 new cardinals, including Bishop Fernando Vérgez, LC. He is the first Legionary of Christ to be named a cardinal. Bishop Vérgez, 77, was born in Salamanca, Spain, and was appointed a few months ago by Pope Francis as President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and President of the Governorate of Vatican City State. For the decade previous to this he served as the Secretary General of the Governatorate of the Vatican City State.
50 years at the service of the Holy See
The future Cardinal Vérgez was ordained a priest in 1969, and began working for the Holy See three years later. He has collaborated in different Vatican organizations throughout these more than 50 years, including the Congregation for Religious Life, and he has also been responsible for the Holy See’s Office of Internet and Telecommunications.
One of the key stages of Bishop Vérgez’s pastoral work was his service as personal secretary to Argentine Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, while he was president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity under St. John Paul II, at which time the World Youth Days were created.
Pope Francis also named Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, as a new cardinal. Father Ghirlanda, a canon lawyer, has served as rector of the Gregorian University in Rome as well as being a member of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. His close accompaniment of Regnum Christi spanned almost a decade, beginning with his assistance to the Legionaries of Christ as an advisor to Cardinal Velasio de Paolis which began in 2010 under the direction of Pope Benedict XVI.
His work was expanded to include becoming an advisor and accompanier to the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, the Lay Consecrated Men of Regnum Christi, and to all members of what would become the Regnum Christi Federation, during the renewal process. His counsel, assistance, and tireless encouragement was indispensable in the work leading up to the creation of the Federation and its new Statutes in 2019.
Universality of the Church
The 21 new cardinals reflect the universality of the Church, both in their origins and in their ages. They are:
– Arthur Roche, British, 72, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments;
– Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Korean, 72, prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy;
– Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, LC, Spanish, 77, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and president of the Governorate of Vatican City State;
– Jean-Marc Aveline, French, 63, archbishop of Marseille, France;
– Peter Okpaleke, Nigerian, 59, bishop of Ekwulobia, Nigeria;
– Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, Brazilian, OFM, 71, archbishop of Manaus, Brazil;
– Filipe Neri António Sebastião di Rosário Ferrão, Indian, 69, archbishop of Goa e Damão, India;
– Robert Walter McElroy, American, 68, bishop of San Diego, United States;
– Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva, SDB, East Timorese, 54, archbishop of Dili, East Timor;
– Oscar Cantoni, Italian, 71, bishop of Como, Italy;
– Anthony Poola, Indian, 60, archbishop of Hyderabad, India;
– Paulo Cezar Costa, Brazilian, 54, metropolitan archbishop of Brasilia, Brazil;
– Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Ghanian, 62, bishop of Wa, Ghana;
– William Goh Seng Chye, Singaporean, 64, archbishop of Singapore, Singapore;
– Adalberto Martínez Flores, Paraguayan 70, archbishop of Asunción, Paraguay;
– Giorgio Marengo, Italian, IMC, 47, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Among the newly named cardinals are five who are over 80 years old and therefore ineligible to vote in a conclave:
– Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, Columbian, 80, archbishop emeritus of Cartagena, Colombia;
– Lucas Van Looy, SDB, Belgian, 80, archbishop emeritus of Ghent, Belgium;
– Arrigo Miglio, Italian, who will turn 80 on July 18, before the consistory, archbishop emeritus of Cagliari, Italy;
– Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SI, Italian, who will turn 80 on July 5, before the consistory, professor of Theology;
– Fortunato Frezza, Italian, 80, canon of St. Peter’s Basilica.