Pope Francis inducts new cardinals as predecessor Benedict looks on

Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:24am EST
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis urged 19 freshman cardinals to shun rivalries and factions at an induction ceremony on Saturday where his scandal-plagued predecessor, pope Benedict, made a surprise appearance.

It was the first time Benedict attended a papal rite since his resignation a year ago. His presence offered the remarkable scene of a former pope, a reigning pope and a potentially future pope in St. Peter's Basilica at the same time.

Rivalry between factions of the Curia, the Vatican's central administration, was blamed for the mishaps and scandals that dogged Benedict's eight-year papacy, capped by the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal in 2012 in which Benedict's butler stole personal documents and leaked them to the media.

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.

Sixteen of the new appointees are "cardinal electors" who will join 106 existing cardinals who are also under 80 and thus eligible to enter a conclave to elect a pope from among their own ranks.

They come from Italy, Germany, Britain, Nicaragua, Canada, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Chile, Burkina Faso, the Philippines and Haiti. The non-electors come from Italy, Spain and Saint Lucia.

Benedict, 86, who was using a cane, came in through a side entrance and sat quietly wearing a long white overcoat in the front row with cardinals. When he reached the front of the basilica to start the ceremony, Pope Francis greeted Benedict, who took off his white skull cap in a sign of respect and obedience.

Even though the crowd had been asked to refrain from applause during the ceremony, they clapped when Benedict walked in and again when his name was mentioned in an address by one of the new cardinals.   Continued...

Pope Francis embraces newly elected cardinal Philippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo of Burkina Faso during a consistory ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi