Pope Benedict names new cardinals who’ll choose successor, mostly Europeans

January 7, 2012

(A priest holds a tray of four-cornered cardinal's biretta hats during a ceremony installing new cardinals at the Vatican March 24, 2006. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

Pope Benedict, increasing the chances the next pontiff will be a conservative European, has named 22 new cardinals, the red-hatted “princes of the Church” who are his closest aides and will one day choose his successor. Eighteen of the new cardinals will be eligible to enter a secret conclave to elect the next pope from among their own ranks, and of those, 12 are Europeans, bringing the number of “cardinal electors” from the continent to 67 out of 125.

The pope is a conservative on matters of faith and sexual morals such as birth control, homosexuality and the ban on women priests. Each time he names cardinals he puts his stamp on Roman Catholicism’s future by choosing men who share his views.

Among the most prominent on the list of new cardinals published on Friday are archbishops in key spots such as Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, John Tong Hon, archbishop of Hong Kong, and Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Berlin in the pope’s native Germany. Others are from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, India, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Romania, Belgium, and Malta. They include the archbishops of Toronto, Prague, Utrecht, and Florence. The head of the Siro-Malabar Catholic rite in India will also become a cardinal.

With the new appointments, Benedict, who was elected in a secret conclave in 2005, has now named more than half the cardinal electors who will be able some day to choose a new leader of the world’s some 1.3 billion Roman Catholics. The other electors were all named by his predecessor John Paul.  Compared to 67 cardinal electors for Europe, Latin America now has 22, North America has 15, Africa has 11, Asia has 9 and Oceania has one.

.  See also List of new cardinals named by Pope Benedict? and New York archbishop “humbled” at being cardinal.

Among the vaticanisti writing for religious media, the tea-leaf reading agrees the Italians and the Roman Curia (the Vatican administration) have increased influence while the majority of Catholics worldwide, i.e. those in the Global South, still remain vastly underrepresented. There are also suggestions that Benedict’s number two man, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, also comes out strengthened because sesveral of the new appointees are linked to him. See:

Five observations on the new cardinals? — John Allen (National Catholic Reporter)

Thomas J. Reese, SJ on the New Cardinals — Thomas J. Reese, SJ (America)

Pope names 22 new cardinals, including three North Americans — Francis X. Rocca (Catholic News Service)

Concistoro, la carica degli italiani (bertoniani) — Andrea Tornielli (La Stampa)

Un cónclave curial, europeo y a la medida de Bertone — Jesús Bastante (El barón rampante)

Vatican Diary / The next cardinals, name by name — Sandro Magister (www.chiesa)

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This list does not do much for the universality of the church.No Africans and only one from Latin America

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John Paul called you to Christ by force of his personality. Benedict calls you to Christ by force of his intellect. Two complementary styles guided by the Holy Spirit in righteous pursuit of eternal salvation for all people willing to accept God’s love and mercy. We are blessed to have Benedict as the Vicar of Christ. Let his words penetrate your heart and mind. They will bring you an understanding of God’s love heretofore rarely made with such clarity. Benedict’s Christmas Vigil homily conveyed the astral sublimity of God’s love for mankind and was a gift of hope and peace to all.

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