Blog: These are our Cardinals

Eminences, now it’s your turn! On Tuesday, the Cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel for the election of a new Pontiff. All Cardinals younger than 80 years are called to join the conclave. They are 115 Cardinals from all over the world. Red hats covering a rainbow of colours. In order to give you an insight in who they are, we have asked some Ariëns members to introduce you to the Cardinals from their home countries. As network of young Catholics, studying or working at University of Twente, International Training Centre, Saxion University, ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, ROC van Twente and other institutions in Twente, we have members from Europe, Latin-America, Asia and Africa. So who else could better introduce you to the Cardinals of the universal church, than members of our multicoloured Ariëns Katholieke Studenten Enschede?

Ariëns Katholieke Studenten
at the Archdiocesan Chapel, May '12
We have to start of course with the country we all currently live in. From The Netherlands, it will be Willem Cardinal Eijk’s first conclave. Cardinal Eijk is the Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht, the biggest diocese in The Netherlands. It is also the diocese where, after Utrecht itself, Enschede is the second biggest city. But Cardinal Eijk also has his tasks in Rome. Ariëns-member Aryo: “Being a member of so many congregations and councils at the Holy See he certainly knows his way in Rome.” The prelates in Rome however, will also know him as the Cardinal from the country with anti-papal Protestants, legalized drugs, and ideas on marriage, abortion and euthanasia that are crazy to Catholic teaching. Aryo adds: “The reputation of The Netherlands, how excellent and devote Cardinal Eijk may be, will always be like a shadow on him. But it is cool to have our own Archbishop in the Sistine Chapel.”

An internationally better known Cardinal is Luis Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila. Aged 55 he is one of the youngest Cardinals. Tagle is about the same age as Blessed John Paul II (58) when he entered his last conclave. As a theologian Cardinal Tagle is well admired by Pope Benedict XVI. The Ariëns community is quite familiar with Cardinal Tagle because of his many Youtube videos, explaining the faith in a clear and attractive way.

Luis Cardinal Tagle at his weekly video ministry "The Word exposed"
Filipino Ariëns-member Matthew points out his “engaging and charismatic personality, and youthful energy. He’s a very good and articulate public speaker.” As Archbishop of Manila the Cardinal does have pastoral expertise. Matthew notes however, that Cardinal Tagle is quite new to his fellow Cardinals as he has been added to the college just last November. At the farewell meeting of the Cardinals with Pope Benedict XVI, a microphone caught the voice of a fellow Cardinal while introducing Cardinal Tagle and someone else to an older Cardinal. In English (with what seemed to be a German accent) he said: “These are the young tigers here!”

Cardinal Ravasi
A prominent group of Cardinals are the Italians. Having so many Italian Cardinals, the Italian members of our community didn't want to pick a favourite. Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi received much attention last month as he led the spiritual exercises that took place for the Pope and Roman Curia during the first weeks of Lent. It gave the Cardinal the opportunity to present himself prominently to his fellow Cardinals as an expert on Holy Scripture. Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is known for his activities to promote dialogue between believers and non-believers.

Cardinal Scola
Another well-known Cardinal is Angelo Cardinal Scola. He has been a member of Communion and Liberation, a community of young people, some of them also live in Twente. The group's founder helped Cardinal Scola rediscover Jesus during his teenage years.

Cardinal Onaiyekan
A name mentioned very often is Peter Cardinal Turkson, being Ghanaian; he is sometimes called the ‘Kofi Annan among the Cardinals’. Former Ariëns-member and native Ghanaian Alex: “He has been described as ‘one of Africa's most energetic church leaders’.” Also, Alex adds that Cardinal Turkson is one who is tolerant of others’ religious opinions: “His father was a Catholic, his mother a Methodist and he had a Muslim paternal uncle.” Nigerians like to mention Cardinal is John Cardinal Onaiyekan from Nigeria. In 2012 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize along with a Muslim leader for their commitment to peace. 

Off to the Latino world: Colombian Ariëns member Andrea notes that 42% of the Catholics worldwide live in Latin-America. Among these Latino Catholics is Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, now heading the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Interestingly, although he is born in Argentina, he comes from an Italian family, making him comfortable with Roman customs. The Archbishop of São Paolo, Odilo Cardinal Scherer is also a combination of cultures: his parents were German immigrants.

Odilo Cardinal Scherer
Cardinal Scherer currently leads one of the largest dioceses in the world. From Honduras there is Oscar Cardinal Maradiaga, an influential voice on social issues. João Cardinal Braz de Aviz (Brazil) is a familiar face in Rome as he is the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. For Rebeca, Ariëns member from Nicaragua, the most important thing is that the Cardinals make the best choice for the future of our Church: “I pray for someone who will lead our Church in the best possible way, following Mary's example and doing as Jesus would.”

Cardinal Erdö
There are also many Cardinals from other countries than where our Ariëns-members come from. There is for example Cardinal Ouellet (Canada). Marc Cardinal Ouellet from Montreal served as a missionary in Colombia before his appointment to Montreal. Today he is prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, which means that he suggests the Pope who should be consecrated bishops, making him have a big international network of fellow bishops. Cardinal Ouellet is also an expert on dialogue with Orthodox and Protestant communities. The 'episcopal boss of Europe' is Péter Cardinal Erdö. He is president of the Council of European Bishop's Conference. Cardinal Erdö is known as a great mediator bringing opposing views together: a great talent when joining a conclave.

Do you feel we forgot to mention a particular Cardinal, feel free to mail us who to mention, and why!

As the Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel to start the conclave, let us pray in unity with the worldwide Church. Let us invoke the Holy Spirit who governs His flock with unfailing care. May he grant wisdom and strength for our Cardinals to choose the best pastor for the Holy Church on earth. In Jesus' name.

The creation of Adam, fragment of the Sistine Chapel.
Visit online the chapel in interactive 3D here.
Enschede, March 10, 2013. ABG / Ariëns Katholieke Studenten Enschede: