A post by Peter Jordens.
Pursuant upon our earlier post Rome names first ever West Indian Cardinal, it should be noted that Pope Francis has also named a Haitian Cardinal for the very first time: Msgr. Chibly Langlois, Bishop of the Diocese of Les Cayes.
The announcement has been received with much joy in Haiti, also because it came precisely on the 4th anniversary of the Port-au-Prince earthquake of January 12, 2010. See for example these news items in French: http://www.radiokiskeya.com/spip.php?article9958 (includes video) and http://lenouvelliste.com/lenouvelliste/article/126183/Mgr-Chibly-Langlois-premier-cardinal-haitien.html.
Msgr. Langlois said he was surprised by his appointment to the Cardinalate and that he sees it as a blessing for the country as a whole that “will draw attention to Haiti, especially our Church and its challenges, needs and realities.” Source: http://infocatolica.com/?t=noticia&cod=19683
Besides the fact that Msgr. Langlois is the first Haitian to be named Cardinal, it is also notable that he is not from an Archdiocese but from a Diocese in Haiti (in fact, Les Cayes is a relatively isolated seaport in southwestern Haiti) and that at age 55 he will be one of the youngest members of the Sacred College of Cardinals. Only Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal of India (54) is younger than Chibly Langlois on the College.
John L. Allen Jr of the National Catholic Reporter (USA) writes that the group of 19 new Cardinals announced on January 12 reflects Pope Francis’ option for “a church more focused on mercy than on judgment, a political stance closer to the center, and a pastoral emphasis on the peripheries and the poor.” There is “a clear option for the periphery among Francis’ picks. For instance, Bishop Chibly Langlois will become the first cardinal from Haiti, by most measures one of the poorest countries in the world. The appointment breaks an unwritten Vatican rule that if the Caribbean was to have a cardinal, the red hat should go to one of the region’s three Catholic powerhouses – Cuba, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. Moreover, Langlois’ diocese of Les Cayes is not one of the two archdioceses in Haiti, so Langlois represents an option for the periphery even within his own nation. In addition, one of the three ‘honorary’ cardinals named by Francis, meaning men already over 80, was another Caribbean bishop, retired Archbishop Kevin Edward Felix of Castries.” See http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/four-new-echoes-francis-revolution.
As Allen mentions, the Caribbean region has had Cardinals before, but always from the Spanish-speaking subregion. A quick search on Wikipedia indicates that there have been two Cardinals from Cuba, two from the Dominican Republic, and one from Puerto Rico. In chronological order of their elevation to the Cardinalate, they are:
1946: Manuel Arteaga y Betancourt (1879-1963), Archbishop of La Habana, Cuba
1973: Luis Aponte Martínez (1922-2012), Archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico
1976: Octavio Beras Rojas (1906-1990), Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
1991: Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez (1936), Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
1994: Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino (1936), Archbishop of San Cristóbal de la Habana, Cuba
The last two persons are still serving on the Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals and are now being joined by Kelvin E. Felix and Chibly Langlois, which expands the Caribbean contingent on the College from two to four Cardinals. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_of_Cardinals