Pope names 19 new cardinals, six from Latin America

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Stressing that their role would be one of service rather than honor, Pope Francis named 19 new cardinals, including six men from his home region of Latin America.
    The pope announced the nominations Jan. 12 after praying the Angelus and said he would formally induct the men into the College of Cardinals Feb. 22.
    Although cardinals are traditionally known as “princes of the church,” Pope Francis, who has pointedly refused many of the trappings of his office, characteristically dismissed any element of pomp in the distinction he had decided to bestow.
     In a letter to the new cardinals, released by the Vatican Jan. 13, the pope wrote that a red hat “does not signify a promotion, an honor or a decoration; it is simply a form of service that requires expanding your vision and enlarging your heart.”
Service, not pomp
    Pope Francis instructed the cardinals-designate to “receive this new designation with a simple and humble heart. And while you should do so with joy and happiness, do it in a way that this feeling may be far from any expression of worldliness, or any form of celebration alien to the evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.”
    The consistory will bring the total number of cardinals to 218 and the number of cardinals under age 80 to 122. Until they reach their 80th birthdays, cardinals are eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.
    Two current cardinal electors will turn 80 in March, bringing the number of electors back to the limit of 120 set by Pope Paul VI. (Other popes have occasionally exceeded that limit for short periods of time.)
    Some observers had predicted that Pope Francis, the first pope from Latin America, would use his first selections to make major changes in the composition of the cardinal electors, perhaps by boosting the presence of residential bishops from the global South and reducing that of Vatican officials or prelates from rich Western countries.
    Half of the new cardinal electors hail from statistically underrepresented regions in the southern hemisphere, including three of the world’s poorest countries: Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Haiti. Yet Pope Francis did not substantially reduce the representation of groups with a traditionally strong presence.
    Five of the new electors are from Latin America, an increase by one-third of the current number from the region. Latin America, home to about 40 percent of the world’s Catholics, will account for about 16 percent of the group eligible to choose the next pope.
    The archbishops of Westminster and Quebec are also on the list of those to receive red hats; the latter is only cardinal-designate from North America.
    Four of the new cardinal electors are from Italy, leaving that nation’s share practically unchanged at nearly a quarter. However, the pope passed over the archbishop of Venice and the archbishop of Turin, both dioceses that traditionally come with a red hat.
    Four new cardinal electors are Vatican officials, three of them in offices that traditionally entail membership in the college. Such officials will continue to make up slightly more than a third of the cardinal electors.

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