Ferrao is the first-ever Archbishop of Goa to be elevated to the cardinalate, and only the sixth person of Goan origin to attain that rank. Archbishop Anthony is the first Telugu priest in the history of the Catholic Church to be made a cardinal. “It’s the will and grace of God that I have been named Cardinal. I am not great. It was Pope Francis who took the decision,” Anthony told TOI. “I will reach out to the periphery in society and work for the uplift of the poor and downtrodden, as the Pope suggests. I will be involved in development activity not only in the Telugu states, but also other regions. ”
In keeping with recent trends, several of the new cardinals come from dioceses where Catholics are a distinct minority. The other prelates on the Pope’s new list are from France, Brazil, the Philippines, Mongolia, Paraguay, Nigeria, Timor Oriental and Italy, upholding his tradition of focusing on the peripheries when looking for additions to the college of cardinals. The “red hats”, as they are often called due to the colour of their zucchetto (skullcap), also serve as key papal advisers, with those under 80 being appointed as members of the Vatican offices and councils. The current strength of the college of cardinals is 208, of whom 117 are electors. After the number increases to 229 cardinals, there will be 131 electors.
At present, the Catholic Church has four serving cardinals in India — Cleemis Catholicos (Trivandrum), Telesphore Toppo (Ranchi), Oswald Gracias (Mumbai) and George Alencherry (Ernakulam). “It is with great pride and joy that we would like to inform that Archbishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao di Rosario Ferrao — Archbishop of Goa and Daman — has been chosen by Pope Francis to be made a cardinal,” said Fr Barry Cardozo, director of the diocesan centre for social communications and media in Goa. Given Ferrao’s age — he is 69 — he will be able to participate in the conclave that will eventually find Pope Francis a successor. Ditto fellow cardinal-designate Anthony, who is 60. Anthony is a native of Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district and was anointed Archbishop of Hyderabad in January last year. The first Indian cardinal, Valerian Gracias, was of Goan origin, with roots in Dramapur, Navelim.