Sunday, January 4, 2015

In surprise move, Vatican names archbishop from Morelia, Michoacán, as one of 20 new cardinals

Guadalajara -
Alberto Suárez Inda, archbishop of Morelia in Michoacán state, was today named a cardinal by Pope Francis during a ceremony in Rome.

Suárez, who along with 19 others will be elevated to the Roman Catholic Church's second highest post on Feb. 14, is the first cardinal ever to be selected from Michoacán.

Suárez was born Jan. 30, 1939. Almost a year ago he submitted his mandatory resignation to Rome on turning 75, in accordance with canon law. But the Vatican never acted on it. Now he will join the Church's ultra prestigious 200 member College of Cardinals, a body which directly advises the Pope on a wide array of theological and liturgical matters, and which runs the Vatican ship of state.

Archbishop Suárez, a native of Guanajuato, received training in philosophy and theology in Mexico and in Rome. He was ordained a priest in 1964, and was named bishop of Tacámbaro in 1985.

Pope John Paul II named Suárez archbishop of Morelia on Jan. 20, 1995. He was president of the Roman Catholic Mexican Episcopal Conference, the highest Church decision making body in the country, between 2004 and 2009.

Some Catholic prelates expressed surprise over Suárez's selection, not only because of his age but because Pope Francis conspicuously passed over Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López of Monterrey, historically regarded as a training ground for future Mexican cardinals and a guaranteed entry ramp to the Church hierarchy . But Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., the Holy See's press secretary, said today the Pontiff does not consider himself bound by such traditions, and seeks more diversity in the Church's upper echelon. "There is no automatic entitlement to the College of Cardinals," he added.

Lombardi also noted that "Michoacán is a region hard hit by violence," but he stopped short of saying whether that had influenced Pope Francis' selection.

Only cardinals who have not yet reached 80 years of age are allowed to participate in the Conclave, a subset of the College whose members are eligible to vote for the next pope when a vacancy occurs in the Church's highest office. Archbishop Suárez will be entitled to admission to the Conclave, which currently has 120 members.

Aug. 20, 2014 - Violent Michoacán sets eight year record in homicides
July 26, 2014 - Regional violence remains unabated in Michoacán, and spares no political party

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