Pope puts his stamp on Catholic Church future with new cardinals

November 20, 2010

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(Photo: Pope Benedict leads the consistory in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican November 20, 2010/Tony Gentile)

Pope Benedict installed 24 new Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world on Saturday in his latest batch of appointments that could include his successor as leader of the 1.2 billion member church.

Twenty of the new cardinals are under 80 and thus eligible under church rules to take part in the conclave that chooses a successor after the death or resignation of the current pope.

The new cardinals include Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C., who, as a senior figure in the American capital, will likely play a leading role in the U.S. church’s response to the sexual abuse scandal.

At a pre-consistory meeting on Friday, the Vatican told bishops they would have to take more responsibility to prevent sexual abuse of children by priests and said it was preparing new guidelines for bishops on how to deal with the sexual abuse, including cooperation with local authorities.

The German pope has now named 50 of the 121 electors who can pick his successor from among their own ranks, raising the possibility that the next pontiff will be a conservative in Benedict’s own image. Popes usually reign for life but Benedict, 83, has not ruled out the possibility of resigning for health reasons. The last time a pope resigned willingly was in the 13th century.

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(Photo: Pope Benedict XVI at the consistory in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican November 20, 2010./Tony Gentile)

The 24 new cardinals come from Italy, Guinea, Poland, Switzerland, Egypt, the United States, Spain, Germany, Zambia, Ecuador, Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil and Sri Lanka. Eleven of the new electors are European, eight of them Italian, giving Europeans a small majority of 62 if a conclave where held soon.

Benedict’s choice of the new cardinals is seen by some observers as “re-Italianisation” of the curia, the Roman Catholic Church’s central government, following a string of appointments of non-Italians by his predecessor John Paul. One such observer, Jean-Marie GuĂ©nois of the Paris daily Le Figaro, wrote in a FaithWorld Guestview article this week that Benedict has chosen a European strategy to bolster Catholicism in the countries where it is still a social force — Italy, Spain and Poland.

The latest batch of appointments takes the regional blocs in the electoral college to: Europe-62 cardinals; Latin America-21; North America-15; Africa-12; Asia-10; Pacific region-1. The largest national group is the Italians, with 25 cardinals eligible to elect a new pope, followed by the United States, with 13.

Read the full report here.

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(Photo: New cardinal Velasio De Paolis of Italy receives his red biretta from Pope Benedict XVI during the consistory in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican November 20, 2010/Tony Gentile)

Here is a list of the new cardinals. Note the predominance of Italians (marked in bold) and other Europeans (marked in italics):

Cardinal electors, under 80 years old:

1. Archbishop Angelo Amato (Italian), prefect of the congregation for the Causes of Saints.

2. His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, (Egyptian), Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt.

3. Archbishop Robert Sarah (Guinean), President of the Pontifical council Cor Unum, which oversees the Vatican’s charity activities.

4. Archbishop Francesco Monterisi(Italian) Archpriest at Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

5. Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli (Italian), Vatican official dealing with the sacrament of penance.

6. Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke (American), prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, a top Vatican tribunal.

7. Archbishop Kurt Koch (Swiss), president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

8. Archbishop Paolo Sardi (Italian), Vatican deputy chamberlain.

9. Archbishop Mauro Piacenza (Italian) prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

10. Archbishop Velasio De Paolis (Italian), president of prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

11. Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi (Italian) president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

12. Archbishop Medardo Joseph Mazombwe (Zambian) of Lusaka.

13. Archbishop Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga (Ecuadorean), of Quito.

14. Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (Democratic Republic of Congo) of Kinshasa.

15. Archbishop Paolo Romeo (Italian), of Palermo, Sicily.

16. Archbishop Donald William Wuerl (American), of Washington DC.

17. Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis (Brazilian) of Aparecida.

18. Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz (Polish), of Warsaw.

19. Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don (Sri Lankan) of Colombo.

20. Archbishop Reinhard Marx (German) of Munich and Freising.

Cardinals over 80 years old (cannot vote in next conclave):

1. Monsignor Jose Manuel Estepa Llaurens (Spanish)

2. Monsignor Elio Sgreccia (Italian)

3. Monsignor Walter Brandmuller (German)

4. Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci (Italian)

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