Pope Francis has named 15 new "cardinal electors" from 14 nations in a move that further shifts the Catholic power center away from the developed world. Only three come from European nations. None come from the US.
Deutsche Welle, 4 Jan 2015
Pope Francis on Sunday named archbishops from countries as diverse as Myanmar, Uruguay and Tonga to be inducted as cardinals at a Vatican ceremony on February 14, St. Valentine's Day.
Francis told church members gathered in St. Peter's Square the new appointees came "from every continent" and "show the indelible tie with the church of Rome to churches in the world."
The 15 new "cardinal electors" who are aged under 80 and therefore would be eligible to vote for the next pope in the event of Pope Francis' resignation or death, come from Italy, France, Portugal, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Mexico, Thailand, Uruguay, Spain, Panama, Tonga and Cape Verde.
It's the first time churchmen from Myanmar, Tonga and Cape Verdi have been appointed to the College of Cardinals, according to Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's spokesman.
Lombardi said the pope "does not feel chained to the tradition, that the world's major cities should automatically have a cardinal to head them."
Signs of change
In another sign that Pope Francis is looking towards change in the Catholic church which counts 1.2 billion people among its members, only one of the new cardinals is from the Curia.
The Roman Curia is the central administrative bureaucracy of the Vatican and has come under strong criticism from the pontiff himself.
Pope Francis told the gathered crowd in St. Peter's Square on Sunday that on February 12-13 he would lead a meeting of all cardinals, with the intention to "reflect on the orientations and proposals for the reform of the Roman Curia."
In addition, Pope Francis named five other churchmen to become cardinals – however they are older than 80 and would not be eligible to vote in the next pope. Coming from Colombia, Italy, Mozambique, Argentina and Germany, they were given the title to recognize their long service to the church.
se/ipj (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)