Pope favors developing world in naming new cardinals

Sun Jan 4, 2015 9:58am EST
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday named new cardinals to the group that will choose his successor, with appointments that strengthened the Catholic Church in Asia, Africa and Latin America and further shifted its power center away from the developed world.

It was the second time the 78-year-old Francis has used the appointment of cardinals to put his stamp on the 1.2 billion-member church. The two sets of appointments increase the chances that the next pontiff will, like Francis, be a non-European.

Only one of the new electors is from the Curia, the Vatican's central administration, which Francis has pledged to overhaul. Last month, the pope said the Curia was infected with careerism, scheming, greed and "spiritual Alzheimer's".

Francis' nominees now make up a quarter of the 125 "cardinal electors" under 80 years old -- easily enough to sway the election of a new pope when Francis dies or resigns.

Francis read out the names of the 20 new cardinals, 15 of them electors, to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square for his Sunday address.

The new electors come from Italy, France, Portugal, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Mexico, Myanmar, Thailand, Uruguay, Spain, Panama, Cape Verde and Tonga. Nine of them come from the developing world. It was the first time cardinals from Myanmar, Tonga and Cape Verde had been appointed, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

Francis "does not feel chained to the tradition" that some major cities in Italy, elsewhere in Europe or in the United States, should automatically have cardinals to lead them, Lombardi said.

No new cardinals from North America were chosen because their number "is already sizeable", Lombardi said. There are 15 cardinal electors in the United States and Canada.   Continued...

Pope Francis leaves after he celebrates the New Year mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican January 1, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi