Pope's choice of new cardinals puts emphasis on poor

Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:30pm EST
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis put his first stamp on the group at the top of the Roman Catholic hierarchy on Sunday, naming 19 new cardinals from around the world and emphasizing his concern for poor countries.

Sixteen of them are "cardinal electors" under 80 and thus eligible to enter a conclave to elect a pope. They come from Italy, Germany, Britain, Nicaragua, Canada, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Chile, Burkina Faso, the Philippines and Haiti.

Half of them are non-Europeans, indicating the importance Francis attaches to the developing world. Francis is the first Latin American pope and the first non-European pontiff in some 1,300 years.

Cardinals are the pope's closest advisers in the Vatican and around the world. Apart from being church leaders in their home countries, those who are not based in the Vatican are members of key committees in Rome that decide policies that can affect the lives of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

The new cardinal electors are aged from 55 to 74. From Latin America are Archbishop Aurelio Poli, 66, Francis's successor in the Argentine capital, and the archbishops of Managua in Nicaragua, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Santiago in Chile.

Two are from Africa - the archbishops of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and Abidjan in Ivory Coast. From Asia are the archbishops of Seoul in South Korea and Cotabato in the Philippines.

Archbishop Chibly Langlois, 55, is the first cardinal from Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where according to the World Bank some 80 percent of the rural population lives in abject poverty.

The Philippines, Nicaragua, Ivory Coast and Brazil also have high rates of poverty.   Continued...

Pope Francis delivers a speech during the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic palace in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini