Spain, Italy, France. Pamplona, Padua, Lourdes then Ajaccio. The life journey of François-Xavier Bustillo is rich in encounters. The one who was created cardinal this September 30, 2023 by Pope Francis is also a conventual Franciscan religious (one of the three branches of the Franciscan family) of whom he was, for a time, provincial superior. Barely two years ago, he was still only the head of the Franciscan convent of Lourdes (Hautes-Pyrénées) when he was called to the episcopate in May 2021, after being noticed by posing, in a book* a few months earlier, a lucid and vibrant look at a Church in crisis. He will receive the consecration in the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption cathedral in Ajaccio (Southern Corsica) on June 13 of the same year.
But it is through the prism of religious life that we must consider this man, he who wrote several works on community life and the vocation of the priest, calling for a “renewed religious life”. He makes similar wishes for the Church, of which he now becomes a cardinal at the age of 54 and therefore one of the electors of the future pope.
A lucid and energized look at a Church in crisis
The man is not the type to brood while looking around him. If secularization is massive in our Western societies, he prefers to remember that evangelization has always been a work to be taken up by each generation for centuries, bringing the essential to our contemporaries, hope. Because for him, “hope is the ability to believe that we have a potential, personally and as an institution, for the world to get better,” he explained in a recent interview with the newspaper La Croix. “We must bring a quality of being to Western man who has lost his inner GPS, whose deep being is without density and unhappy.”
* The vocation of the priest in the face of crises (Ed. Nouvelle Cité).
Two French people created cardinals
The consistory of September 30 in Rome will see, in all, the “creation” of 21 new cardinals. And François-Xavier Bustillo will not be the only Frenchman. At his side, Mgr Christophe Pierre. At 77 years old, the current apostolic nuncio to the United States has completed a series of diplomatic missions: New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Haiti… before landing in the country of the conservative revolt against Pope Francis.
Among the other cardinals, several come from places with hot news: Jerusalem, Hong Kong, Juba in South Sudan, etc.