Pope Francis continues to surprise

Pope’s new cardinal in Papua New Guinea ticks all the boxes
From left: Archbishop John Ribat MSC, Port Moresby; Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Parramatta; Bishop Robert McGuckin, Toowoomba; Bishop Charles Drennan, Palmerston North; Archbishop Michel Calvet SM, Noumea; and Bishop John Bosco Baremes SM, Port Vila.

John L. Allen Jr. has written a fascinating article on Archbishop John Ribat MSC, Archbishop of Port Moresby who has been made a Cardinal by Pope Francis. Read the full article by Crux here.


Pope Francis sometimes seems to want to honor a specific place, spotlight a specific cause, or honor a specific person when he awards a cardinal’s red hat, and in Archbishop John Ribat of Papua New Guinea, he would appear to have done all three.

Next month Pope Francis will hold his third consistory, meaning the event in which popes create new cardinals, for a total of 56 new cardinals under this pope in all, and so far it’s actually easier to tell why Francis doesn’t give red hats than why he does.

What’s clear is that Francis does not believe certain historically prestigious or dominant dioceses automatically entitle the archbishop of that place to a cardinal’s red hat. In effect, he’s decoupling the College of Cardinals from the office individuals may hold.

Beyond that, depending on the circumstances, it seems that Francis may award a red hat to honor a specific place, to spotlight a specific cause, or because a specific person simply is his kind of bishop.

In the case of Archbishop John Ribat of Papua New Guinea, one of 17 new cardinals to be created by Pope Francis on Nov. 19 and one of 13 electors, meaning cardinals under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote for the next pope, all three appear to be in place.

Ribat, just 59 years old, is a native Papua New Guinean who’s also a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an order founded in France in 1854 which arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1882. The country is almost 96 percent Christian, with 70 percent Protestant and roughly one-quarter Catholic.

Read the full article by Crux here.


The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv recently travelled to Papua New Guinea where he personally met Archbishop Ribat. Read more about it here.

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