Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur Anthony Soter Fernandez was named as one of 17 new cardinals of the Catholic Church on Sunday.
Fernandez is Malaysia’s first cardinal, and his appointment on Sunday emphasised the growing influence of clerics from the developing world at the Vatican.
However, Fernandez, 84 and three other newly appointed cardinals (Monsignor Renato Corti, Monsignor Sebastian Koto Khoarai and Rev. Ernest Simoni) will not be a part of the Electoral College that elects the Pope, as only cardinals below the age of 80 are eligible to vote in a conclave.
When contacted on Sunday night, Fernandez said the news took him by surprise as he had yet to receive any notification of his appointment from the Vatican.
“I only heard of it on the news and via congratulatory wishes from the people around me at a function I was attending,” he said.
Fernandez said he would wait for an official confirmation before making any statement.
Pope Francis announced the creation of the 17 new cardinals at the end of his Angelus on Sunday.
A consistory will be held on Nov 19, the eve of the closing of the Jubilee of Mercy.
Of the 17, only one of the new cardinals is from Italy, which has dominated church politics for centuries while the remaining 16 come from four other continents including Africa, Asia, North America and South America.
The move is seen as part of Pope Francis’ attempts to decentralise Vatican leadership from Europe and include smaller nations.
Pope Francis, who will be 80 this December, seems to be putting down important markers for the future of the Catholic Church.
The list of new cardinals:
- Archbishop Mario Zenari, Italy
- Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Central African Republic
- Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra, Spain
- Archbishop Sérgio da Rocha, Brazil
- Archbishop Blase J. Cupich, U.S.A.
- Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario, Bangladesh
- Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, Venezuela
- Archbishop Jozef De Kesel, Belgium
- Archbishop Maurice Piat, Mauritius
- Archbishop Kevin Joseph Farrell, U.S.A.
- Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, Mexico
- Archbishop John Ribat, Papua Nuova Guinea
- Archbishop Mons. Joseph William Tobin U.S.A.
- Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez, Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Archbishop Renato Corti, Archbishop Emeritus of Novara Italy
- Archbishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai, Bishop Emeritus of Mohale’s Hoek Lesotho
- Father Ernest Simoni, presbytery of the Archdiocese of Shkodrë-Pult, Scutari – Albania.