Three Americans are among the 17 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis as Vatican continues its efforts to present a more moderate face

  • Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin, and Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell named to College of Cardinals
  • College of Cardinals is the Vatican body which convenes to elect a pope if the pontiff either dies or resigns
  • Cupich, Tobin, and Farrell are considered moderates who, like Francis, are eager to make the Church more welcoming to diverse viewpoints 

Three Americans are part of the crop of 17 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis, The Vatican announced on Sunday.

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin, and Dallas' outgoing bishop, Kevin Farrell, are among the pontiff's selections which show the Catholic Church is trying to present a more moderate face. 

It takes the total number of American cardinals to 20.  

Pope Francis (seen here waving to the faithful in St. Peter's Square on October 9, 2016) named 17 new cardinals on Sunday, three of them Americans

Pope Francis (seen here waving to the faithful in St. Peter's Square on October 9, 2016) named 17 new cardinals on Sunday, three of them Americans

Thirteen of the 17 cardinals named by Francis on Sunday are under the age of 80, meaning that they are eligible to vote for the next pope, according to the Associated Press. 

Cupich's elevation makes this the seventh time that a Chicago archbishop has been named to the College of Cardinals, according to the Chicago Tribune

The Omaha, Nebraska, native, who came to Chicago just two years ago after he headed the diocese of Spokane, Washington, is widely perceived as a moderate cleric in the same vein as Francis.

The pope has struck a more conciliatory tone toward groups that have long been marginalized by the Catholic Church, including homosexuals and the poor.

After the June 12 massacre at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, that left 49 dead and more than 100 injured,  Francis said that homosexuals deserve an apology from the Church. 

Archbishop of Indianapolis Joseph William Tobin (above) and Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell were two of the US clerics named to the College of Cardinals by the pope
Archbishop of Indianapolis Joseph William Tobin and Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell (above) were two of the US clerics named to the College of Cardinals by the pope

Archbishop of Indianapolis Joseph William Tobin (left) and Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell (right) were two of the US clerics named to the College of Cardinals by the pope

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich (left, with Pope Francis in 2015) is widely perceived as a moderate cleric in the same vein as the pontiff

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich (left, with Pope Francis in 2015) is widely perceived as a moderate cleric in the same vein as the pontiff

Last year, the pope tapped Cupich to take part in an international conference of bishops and cardinals aimed at examining ways of communicating Church teachings on sensitive issues such as  marriage, contraception, divorce, and homosexuality to Catholics in today's day and age.

AMERICAN CARDINALS 

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin, and Dallas' outgoing bishop, Kevin Farrell were named cardinals by Pope Francis.

That brings the total number of American cardinals to 20.

Americans who are already members include Bernard Francis Law, Sean Patrick O'Malley, Edwin Frederick O'Brien, and Timothy M. Dolan.

Cupich's elevation makes this the seventh time that a Chicago archbishop has been named to the College of Cardinals.

Cupich, the ninth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, was a surprise pick by Francis to head America's third-largest Catholic community. 

He was previously the head of the diocese of Spokane, Washington, and Rapid City, South Dakota. 

The Irish-born Farrell is also considered a warm, friendly cleric who is not shy about advocating for important social justice causes.

His brother, Brian, is a bishop. He was appointed by the Vatican to be secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Before his posting in Dallas, he was auxiliary archbishop in Washington, D.C. 

Tobin is a native of Detroit and the oldest of 13 children.

Named Archbishop of Indianapolis by Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict, in October 2012, Tobin speaks English, Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese and he reads several other languages.

Tobin had been the No. 2 in the Vatican office for religious orders for only two years when in 2012, then-Pope Benedict XVI sent him back to the US to head the Indianapolis archdiocese, which had fewer than 230,000 parishioners.  

Farrell is considered a warm, friendly cleric who is not shy about advocating for important social justice causes.

This past summer, Francis appointed Farrell as the head of a new Vatican office devoted to families and laity, making him the highest-ranking American at the Holy See, CBS News reported.

Tobin is viewed as a church official on the more 'progressive' end of the spectrum, particularly with his advocacy for women's issues.

The nomination for Tobin could indicate Francis' appreciation of Tobin's support for American nuns. 

Tobin had been the No. 2 in the Vatican office for religious orders for only two years when in 2012, then-Pope Benedict XVI sent him back to the US to head the Indianapolis archdiocese, which had fewer than 230,000 parishioners.

The transfer was seen in some Vatican circles as being tied to Tobin's efforts to promote dialogue and resolve tensions between the Vatican and US nuns who were subject of two separate Holy See investigations. 

After Francis was elected, both investigations were concluded with Vatican praise for the work of the sisters.

The College of Cardinals is the Vatican body that convenes to name a successor to the pope if and when the pontiff dies or resigns. 

Prior to Sunday's announcement, there were a total of 17 cardinals from the US.

The list includes Bernard Francis Law, Sean Patrick O'Malley, Edwin Frederick O'Brien, and Timothy M. Dolan. 

As is Francis' tradition, the new cardinals hail from some of the most far-away and peripheral corners of the globe.

Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania are now getting more representation than Europe, which has long dominated the College of Cardinals.

New to the club of the 'princes' of the church are bishops from Bangui, Central African Republic; Port Louis, Mauritius and Tlalnepantla, Mexico. 

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