Pope appoints six cardinals who will elect his successor

Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:27am EST
 

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict made six non-European prelates Roman Catholic cardinals on Saturday, chipping away at the old continent's domination of the elite group that will one day elect his successor.

The new cardinals, ranging in age from 53 to 72, are from the United States, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Lebanon and Colombia, and the decision to choose no Italians or Europeans looked like an attempt to counter criticism that he has in the past neglected the needs of the developing world.

Elevating the new "princes" in a solemn ceremony known as a consistory in St Peter's Basilica, Benedict said his appointments reflected "that the Church is the Church of all peoples".

"She speaks in the various cultures of the different continents ... amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God," he said in his sermon.

The new cardinals are American Archbishop James Michael Harvey, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, a major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara rite in India, Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church in Lebanon, and Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja.

All six are "cardinal electors," those under 80 years old and therefore eligible to enter a conclave that will one day choose Benedict's successor.

Benedict gave the new cardinals their ring and traditional red "biretta," or hat. He reminded them that they wear red vestments because they must be ready to defend the faith "even to the shedding of your blood".

The pope is a conservative on matters of faith and sexual morals such as birth control, homosexuality and the ban on women priests. Each time he names cardinals he chooses men who share his views and can shape the Church's future.   Continued...

 
Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to attend a consistory mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican November 24, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile