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Dominican Archbishop Kelvin Felix moves up

Monday, January 13 2014

ARCHBISHOP Joseph Harris yesterday welcomed the announcement by the Vatican of the imminent appointment of the first-ever Cardinal from the English-speaking Caribbean, Archbishop Kelvin Edward Felix.

“It is a great honour for the Caribbean,” Archbishop Harris said in an interview with Newsday.

“It is the first time that an Archbishop from the English-speaking Caribbean has been made a Cardinal.”

Felix, 81, Archbishop Emeritus of Castries, St Lucia, is a Dominican and will be made Cardinal at a public Papal consistory on February 22nd at the St. Peter Basilica in Rome. The date marks the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. The following day, Pope Francis will preside at a solemn concelebration with several new Cardinals. A private consistory with all the Cardinals will be held prior, on February 20 and 21.

After the Angelus yesterday, Pope Francis said, “I will have the joy of holding a consistory, during which I will name 16 new Cardinals, who, coming from 12 countries from every part of the world, represent the deep ecclesial relationship between the Church of Rome and the other Churches throughout the world.” Harris said it was notable that Felix was from Dominica.

“What is interesting is that Archibishop Felix is not St Lucian, he is from Dominica and is retired,” the Archbishop said. “He is the retired Archbishop of Castries but lives in Dominica at the moment and Dominica became a Diocese in 1850, the same year Trinidad and Tobago became an Archdiocese. But Dominica has the distinction of giving the first Caribbean Archbishop of the Church: Bishop Joseph Bowers, Bishop of Accra in Ghana. And now, they have the distinction of giving the first Cardinal from the English speaking Region of the Church. It is a great honour for Dominica and all the Caribbean.”

Harris noted that a Cardinal is effectively an advisor to the Pope. He suggested this poses an opportunity for advancement of interests of the Region.

“We hope that in the days to come, Archbishop Felix will be able to let the Pope know a little more about the Caribbean than he knows already,” Harris said. “We would expect that with a Cardinal who would be in Rome for various issues that the Vatican would learn a little bit more about the Caribbean and the issues which we face here.”

Archbishiop Nuncio to the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) Nicola Girasoli yesterday also welcomed the news, expressing “profound gratitude”.

“We express our profound gratitude to Pope Francis for having considered, for first time in the history of the AEC, to appoint as Cardinal a member of the Episcopate of this Region,” he said in a press release.

“This appointment is also a great sign of appreciation for the tireless and dedicated pastoral ministry of all our Bishops and for the Church of this beloved Region. For the first time one member of the Episcopate the Region of AEC will be elevated to the dignity of Cardinal. We all rejoice and congratulate Archbishop Felix for this appointment which, as Pope Francis mentioned today, is an acknowledgment for his long and dedicated service to the Holy See and to the Church.” Girasoli added, “we pray for the new Cardinal, and for the pastoral ministry of all our Bishops in the Region.”

In April 2006, Felix miraculously escaped death on a Wednesday night when a 26-year-old man, armed with a knife, attempted to slash his throat outside the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Castries, St Lucia.

Felix was attacked as he was preparing to enter his car. His Roman Collar was cut off his neck. According to the St Lucia Police, the Roman Collar saved the Archbishop’s life.

While he will be the first Cardinal from the English-speaking Caribbean, Felix will not be the first Cardinal from the Region as a whole. Another Cardinal, Cuba’s Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, was made Cardinal in 1994.

See Page 29A

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