Cardinal who leads Salesian order to be ordained a bishop

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Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime
Pope Francis gives a red biretta to Spanish Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, superior of the Salesian religious order, during a consistory for the creation of 21 new cardinals in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 30, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, superior of the Salesian order, will be ordained a bishop on April 20.

And the Vatican announced on March 5 that given his episcopal ordination, Pope Francis has decided he will be an archbishop and have the “titular see” of Ursona, an ancient diocese in Spain that is believed to have ceased functioning in the sixth century.

St. John XXIII ruled in 1962 that all members of the College of Cardinals should be ordained bishops, and on April 19 that year he put the ruling into effect by personally ordaining as bishops the 12 cardinals who previously had been ordained only to the priesthood.

What the Church teaches about consecration

A New York Times article from April 20, 1962, said, “If at any future time a priest is made a cardinal, he will be consecrated a bishop immediately after having received his red hat.”

The 1983 Code of Canon Law says: “The Roman Pontiff freely selects men to be promoted as cardinals, who have been ordained at least into the order of the presbyterate and are especially outstanding in doctrine, morals, piety, and prudence in action; those who are not yet bishops must receive episcopal consecration.”

While the canon does not say the ordination should occur before the consistory at which they are made cardinals, the practice in recent decades has been that priests who are named cardinals are ordained in small ceremonies a few days or week before they become cardinals. If the cardinal-elect is a priest over the age of 80, however, he can request and usually is granted an exemption from being ordained a bishop.

While 59 of the world’s 239 cardinals are members of religious orders, Cardinal Fernández is the only one serving as superior general of a religious order. According to Church law, though, that service is only temporary since being named a cardinal is a position in conflict with the duties of a superior general.

Pope Francis had announced on July 9 that he would make the Salesian a cardinal at the consistory he celebrated Sept. 30.

In a letter dated July 11, the Salesian superior explained that Pope Francis decided he could and should continue serving as “rector major,” or superior, of the order until July 31, 2024, at which time he will be given a new ministry by the pope.

Cardinal Fernández later announced that the Salesian general chapter, which will elect his successor, will be held Feb. 16-April 12, 2025, near Turin, Italy.

Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service has reported from the Vatican since the founding of its Rome bureau in 1950.