Francis announced that the simple, white-haired Roman Catholic priest, who had spent many years in jail during Albania’s communist dictatorship, was to become a cardinal.
It was the first that Simoni, or any of the other 16 new cardinals named by Francis at the same time, had heard of their elevation to the prestigious rank.
“I did not believe either my ears or eyes,” Simoni told Reuters in Albania. “The pope said it, but I could not believe it. ‘Can he be talking about another Ernest?’ I said to myself.”
But more significantly, the pope had also kept nearly the entire Vatican hierarchy in the dark about his decision, which he announced on Oct. 9 to thousands of pilgrims. [More]