MANILA - Pope Francis has formally elevated Capiz Archbishop Jose Advincula as a cardinal of the Catholic Church, becoming the 9th Filipino to become a "prince of the Church."
In a ceremony held at the St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday, the pontiff formally elevated 13 new members of the Sacred College of Cardinals.
Although Advincula was not able to travel to Rome to attend the ceremony due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, his appointment was made official upon the announcement of the pope's decree.
In a report from CBCP News, Fr. Emil Arbatin, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Capiz, said Advincula followed the ceremony through an online live video streaming along with some priests.
As tradition dictates, Advincula was assigned a titular church in Rome just like the other cardinals. Pope Francis appointed him cardinal-priest of San Vigilio.
Bishop Cornelius Sim, Brunei's first cardinal, also failed to attend the ceremony.
Advincula's appointment to his new role is consistent with Francis style of choosing new cardinals from what he called the "peripheries."
Being the largest Catholic territories in the Philippines, it was usually the archbishops from the Archdiocese of Manila and Cebu who are appointed cardinals.
So far, Francis has not followed this tradition. Vatican observers often associate this to the pope's efforts to decentralize power from its usual enclave and put emphasis in areas where much attention is needed.
As cardinals are referred to as "princes of the Church", Francis would often remind them that they should not act as monarchs to be served.
The pontiff repeated this in his message to the new cardinals.
"The scarlet of a cardinal’s robes, which is the color of blood, can, for a worldly spirit, become the color of a secular ‘eminence,’” Francis said.
The pope added that such a person "will no longer be the pastor close to the people. You will feel that you are only 'eminence.' When you feel that, you are off the road."
Meanwhile, despite the Philippines being often considered Asia's bastion of Catholicism, there are only two Filipino cardinals who are eligible to vote in a possible conclave to elect a new pope -- Advincula and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, former archbishop of Manila and current prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The two other living Filipino cardinals -- Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gauidencio Cardinal Rosales and Cotabato Archbishop Emeritus Orlando Quevedo -- are both more than 80 years old and are no longer eligible to vote in a conclave, according to Church's rules.
Filipino cardinals who already passed away are Rufino Santos, and Jaime Sin, who both served as Manila archbishop; Ricardo Vidal and Julio Rosales who both served as Cebu archbishop; and Jose Sanchez, who served as prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy.
This year's Ordinary Public Consistory for the Creation of New Cardinals was held with extraordinary measures due to the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in Italy.
Not only did the two newly minted cardinals miss the consistory, other members of the College of the Cardinals who were not in Rome also chose to follow the ceremony through online platforms instead of traveling to witness the event personally.
The cardinals, bishops, and the small congregation who physically attended the event at the basilica all wore masks during the entire ceremony and are seated at a distance.
One by one, the new cardinals knelt before the pope to receive their red biretta and the cardinalatial ring. The new cardinals, however, did not exchange greetings with present members of the college as is customary.
According to the Vatican, Advincula and the new cardinal from Brunei will receive their red hat and cardinalatial ring from the apostolic nuncio in their respective country.
Also among the 13 new cardinals are: Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the first African American cardinal; Kigali Archbishop Antoine Kambanda, first cardinal from Rwanda and Franciscan Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, longtime papal preacher, who declined to be ordained a bishop as is customary for priests who are appointed cardinal.