On 9 July, after the Angelus and reflection on the Gospel, Pope Francis announced the convocation of the Consistory for 30 September next for the appointment of 21 new Cardinals. Among the names of the new Cardinals was Rev. Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, the Rector Major of the Salesians.
The appointment of Fr Ángel Fernández Artime is a sign of the trust and hope that the Holy Father Pope Francis places in Fr Ángel and the Salesians of Don Bosco.
September 30th 2023, was indeed a celebration of the universality of the Church and a renewal of the thrust of evangelization, during which the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, was officially created Cardinal.
There was great emotion for the entire Salesian Family when the Holy Father Francis pronounced the official formula for the creation of the 21 new cardinals, and even more so when, face to face with the Rector Major kneeling before him, he imposed on him a purple skullcap and biretta, the cardinal’s ring and publicly assigned him the ‘Salesian’ diaconate of the Church of Mary Help of Christians in Via Tuscolana.
The subsequent moment of embrace of Card. Fernández Artime to the Holy Father was at the same time a symbolic gesture, a sign of fidelity in ecclesial service, and also an expression of concrete closeness and affinity between the two pastors.
Earlier, in the solemn rite which witnessed the first of the 21 nominated cardinals, the Augustinian Card. Robert Francis Prevost, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, gave a message of homage and expressed his thanks to the Pontiff on behalf of all. He emphasized how the cardinalate brings with it honours, but above all responsibilities, and the sense of inadequacy of the new cardinals in the face of the greatness of the service to which they are now called. However, in a spirit of trust in Divine Providence and in the Pontiff’s farsightedness, he renewed everyone’s adherence to the task assigned, to be carried out with absolute dedication, utmost humility and total loyalty.
After the reading of the new testament passage of the Pentecost (Acts 12:1-11), the Holy Father offered some hints to the new cardinals – valid, which was however, also for all members of the College of Cardinals.
“Before we are apostles – priests, bishops, cardinals, we are ‘Parthians, Medes, Elamites’… And this should awaken in us awe and gratitude for having received the grace of the Gospel in our respective peoples of origin. I believe that this is very important and should not be forgotten,” said the Pope, urging the newly ordained cardinals to preserve “amazement and gratitude” for the action of the Holy Spirit who has reached them in their languages and peoples, through the mediation of so many people: parents, grandparents, catechists…
For this reason, Francis continued, almost as if to suggest a pastoral style of proximity and simplicity, it is important to remember that ‘faith is transmitted in dialect’, and that before being ‘evangelizers’ one has all been ‘evangelized’.
The Holy Father’s last mention was of the universality of the College of Cardinals, an expression of a “symphonicity” and “synodality” that is proper to the whole Church. “Diversity is necessary, it is indispensable. But every sound must contribute to the common design. And for this, it is fundamental to listen to each other… And the conductor of the orchestra is at the service of this kind of miracle that each time is the performance of a symphony.”
The Holy Father concluded stating that it is precisely the image of the orchestra, concluded, that teaches “always better to be a symphonic and synodal Church … in the consoling trust that that we have the Holy Spirit as our master: the inner master of each one and the master of walking together”, who “creates variety and unity” and who “is harmony itself”.
The celebration ended with the Holy Father’s Apostolic Blessing for the approximately 12,000 faithful present in St. Peter’s Square for this festive day; who, under a still summer sun, then lined up for the traditional ‘courtesy visits’ to the newly-cardinals in the corridors of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
Ángel Fernández Artime was born 21 August 1960 in Luanco-Gozon, Asturias, Spain; he made his first profession on 3 September 1978, perpetual vows on 17 June 1984, in Santiago de Compostela, and was ordained a priest on 4 July 1987, in León.
A native of the Province of Leon, he earned a degree in Pastoral Theology and a Licentiate in Philosophy and Pedagogy.
He was a Provincial Delegate for Youth Ministry, Director of the School of Ourense, a member of the Provincial Council and the Provincial Vicar, and from 2000-2006 he was the Provincial Superior.
After being part of the Preparatory committee which prepared the 26th General Chapter in 2009, he was appointed the Provincial Superior of South Argentina, based in Buenos Aires. In this capacity he also got to know and work personally with the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, today Pope Francis.
On 23 December 2013, he was appointed Superior of the new Province of Mediterranean Spain, dedicated to “Mary Help of Christians.” But before he could take on this new role, on 25 March 2014 he was elected by General Chapter 27 as the new Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation and the 10th Successor of Don Bosco.