Francis diversifies cardinals, choosing prelates from Asia, island nations

National Catholic Reporter

Joshua J. McElwee | Jan. 4, 2015

Continuing to diversify global representation in the most select body of Catholic prelates, Pope Francis announced Sunday that he will be creating 20 new cardinals from 18 different countries — with several from places never before included in the elite group.

Among those Francis has chosen for the role: Bishops from the island nations of Cabo Verde and Tonga; archbishops from the Asian cities of Bangkok, Yangon, and Hà Nôi; and the leader of an Italian community dealing heavily with refugees and migrants from Africa.

Francis made the announcement of the new cardinals, long expected in recent weeks, during his weekly Sunday address following the noon-time Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square.

Cardinals, sometimes known as the “princes of the church” and for their wearing of red vestments, are usually senior Catholic prelates who serve either as archbishops in the world’s largest dioceses’ or in the Vatican’s central bureaucracy. Their principal role is to gather in secret conclave following the death or resignation of a pope to elect his successor.

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