Rwanda’s first Cardinal, Antoine Kambanda installed

On 29 November 2020 at 05:59

Pope Francis has installed new Cardinals including the Archibishop of Kigali Diocese, Antoine Kambanda in a colorful ceremony held in in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. Newly installed cardinals hold the high rank to expand the pontiff’s impact on the group that will one day elect his successor.

The cardinals were installed in a ceremony, known as a consistory that was markedly slimmed down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ceremony held on Saturday was attended by in-service Cardinals and 11 cardinal-elects among 13 recently appointed by Pope Francis on 25th October 2020.

Cardinals from Brunei and the Philippines could not travel and will receive their ring and biretta from a papal delegate.

Instead of the usual thousands, only 10 guests per cardinal were allowed in St. Peter’s Basilica as the pope gave the men their ring and traditional red hat, known as a biretta.

Nine of the 13 are under 80 and eligible under Church law to enter a secret conclave to choose the next pope from among themselves after Francis dies or resigns.

It was Francis’ seventh consistory since his election in 2013. He has now appointed 57% of the 128 cardinal electors, most of whom share his vision of a more inclusive and outward-looking Church.

Thus far, he has appointed 18 cardinals from mostly far-flung countries that never had one, nearly all of them from the developing world including Antoine Kambanda becoming Rwanda’s first ever cardinal.

While Europe still has the largest share of cardinal electors, with 41%, it is down from 52% in 2013 when Francis became the first Latin-American pope.

With each consistory, Francis has increased the chances that his successor will be another non-European, having beefed up the church in places where it is either a tiny minority or where it is growing faster than in the stagnant West.

The nine new electors come from Italy, Malta, Rwanda, the United States, the Philippines, Chile, Brunei and Mexico.

In his homily, Francis told the men to keep their eyes on God, avoid all forms of corruption, and not succumb to a "worldly spirit" that can accompany the prestige and power of their new rank.

Everyone in the basilica except the pope wore a mask. Each new cardinal removed his own when he knelt to be invested.

Four non-electors over 80 were given the honor after a long service to the church.

The most prominent is Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, an Italian-American who has worked around the world and is one of the church’s top experts on immigration.

Rwanda’s Cardinal, Kambanda is expected to continue exercising his role as the Archbishop of Kigali Diocese though he is elevated in high rank of Cardinal.

Rwanda becomes the 24th African country with a Cardinal.

Kambanda was born on 10th November 1958. He is among Rwandans ordained priests by Pope Jean Paul II on 8th September 1990 during his visit to Rwanda.

Pope Francis had appointed Kambanda Bishop of Kibungo Diocese in May 2013 and later in 2018 Archbishop of Kigali Diocese.

Names of new Cardinals installed by Pope Francis

- Archbishop Marcello Semeraro,73, Italian, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

- Archbishop Antoine Kambanda, Rwandan, 62, Archbishop of Kigali.

- Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, American, 72, Archbishop of Washington D.C.

- Archbishop Jose F. Advincula, 68, Filipino, Archbishop of Capiz.

- Archbishop Celestino Aos Braco, 75, Spanish, archbishop of Santiago, Chile.

- Archbishop Cornelius Sim, 69, Brunei, apostolic vicar of Brunei

- Archbishop Augusto Paolo Lojudice, 56, Italian, archbishop of Siena, Italy.

- Father Mauro Gambetti, 55, Italian, custodian of the Franciscan convent of St. Francis in Assisi.

New cardinals over 80 years old and being honoured for their long service to the Church. They cannot enter a conclave.

- Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, 80, Mexican, bishop-emeritus of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.

- Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, 80, Italian, archbishop, former ambassador, expert on immigration.

- Father Raniero Cantalamessa, 86, Italian, long-time preacher of the papal household

- Father Enrico Feroci, 80, Italian, pastor of the Divino Amore sanctuary in Rome.

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states, “Those promoted as cardinals are men freely selected by the Roman Pontiff, who are at least in the order of presbyterate and are especially outstanding for their doctrine, morals, piety, and prudence in action; those, however, who are not yet bishops must receive episcopal consecration” (Canon 351).

An earlier text in the Code describes the tasks that fall to cardinals. It remarks cardinals elect the pope and provide assistance when the pontiff summons them together to discuss matters of particular importance.

Cardinals also assist the pope in less visible ways, such as when they serve as the administrative directors of various Vatican offices.

Antoine Kambanda receiving his ring and biretta from Pope Francis.
The Archbishop of Kigali Diocese, Antoine Kambanda has been elevated to the rank of Cardinal by Pope Francis in Vatican.