Tongan Bishop Elevated To Cardinal By Pope Francis

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Soane Patita Paini Mafi first Tongan Cardinal

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 6, 2015) – Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi (53) is the first Tongan to be made a Cardinal of the Catholic Church.

He was the youngest of the 20 cardinals that Pope Francis announced at St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on Sunday January 4.

Fifteen of the newly appointed cardinals are from the developing countries and three, including Bishop Mafi, held the title of bishop rather than archbishop. The cardinals will be officially installed to their posts on February 14. They will be able to vote for the Pope’s successor.

Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi was consecrated as Coadjutor Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tonga and Niue on 5 October 2007.

He became the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tonga and Niue in January 2014 suceeding the late Bishop Lilo Foliaki.

The fact that many of the new cardinals are from developing countries is in line with Pope Francis’ attempts to overhaul the church and his belief that it should do more to help the poor.

The Pope also announced a meeting with all the cardinals to be held on February 12-13 to discuss possible changes to the Roman Curia, the church’s main bureaucracy.

Holy See

Pope Francis is the first Latin American pope and he had never worked in the Italian-dominated Curia before he was elected as pope.

He has not shied from complaining about the gossiping, careerism and bureaucratic power intrigues that afflict the Holy See.

At Christmas he delivered his message to the Curia and highlighted the "15 Ailments of the Curia" that included "a desire for "power" and "hypocrisy".

In January last year he sacked four of five cardinals who sat on a panel that oversees the Vatican Bank. The Vatican Bank was caught in a money-laundering row in 2010 after Italian prosecutors uncovered allegedly suspicious financial activity within the organisation.

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