By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
Pope Francis has put his stamp firmly on the Roman Catholic Church by naming 20 new cardinals from countries as diverse as Ethiopia, Vietnam and Panama.
The Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the choices signalled that the Pope does not feel “chained to tradition” as he shifts the balance of power in the Church towards the developing world.
The clerics from 14 different countries include the first men from Tonga, Burma and Cape Verde to become so-called “princes of the Church”.
The list also includes five retired bishops and archbishops too old to take part in the conclave to choose the next Pope but who, he said, were “distinguished for their pastoral charity”.
Pope Francis, who declared within days of his election in 2013 that he wanted a “poor church for the poor”, has now appointed 39 cardinals.
That includes 31 cardinal electors, those under the age of 80 who would be eligible to elect his successor in the next conclave – a quarter of the total.
Significantly there was no one from the United States on the list – the second time since Francis become Pope that a new batch of Cardinals had been announced without any names from the Church’s biggest source of income.
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