Pope Francis continues to put stamp on Church
Pontiff chooses new cardinals from beyond Europe13 January, 16:35
Drawing from clerics in Asia, Africa and Latin America, Francis - who is himself from Argentina - seems to be taking another step away from the traditional Church hierarchy, consistent with the emphasis and tone of his public remarks.
Since his election in March 2013, the first pontiff from Latin America has emphasized the importance of social justice, assisting the poor and those who are struggling, living more simply, and demonstrating greater respect, tolerance and care for others.
In remarks during an audience with the diplomatic corps on Monday, the pope continued that theme by denouncing human trafficking and the use of child soldiers as "crimes against humanity" while he also urged kinder treatment and more support for the elderly and for youth in society.
He has buttressed his public stance by living a simple lifestyle that includes shunning the papal apartments and posh limousines for communal life in St. Martha's guesthouse in the Vatican and travel in a Ford Fiat. On Sunday, Francis further showed his willingness to be unconventional and break tradition by throwing open the Catholic Church and baptized 32 babies in the Sistine Chapel.
There, Francis told the mothers to have no qualms about breast-feeding during the service.
He also christened a baby whose parents had not been married in Church, but instead at a civil ceremony.
Equally consistent were the appointments on Sunday of new cardinals from relatively small countries with high levels of poverty including Haiti, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Nicaragua.
He also named a second cardinal for the very Catholic Philippines, which was rocked in November by Typhoon Haiyan that affected millions as one of the most intense tropical storms to ever make landfall anywhere in the world. Of the 19 named on Sunday, 16 are "cardinal electors" who are under 80 and therefore eligible to enter a conclave to elect a new pope.
This allows Francis to shape the Catholic Church in the future, with the appointment of cardinals who will help to choose future popes who presumably will share some of his philosophy. Francis elevated Mario Aurelio Poli, his successor as archbishop in Buenos Aires; Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Orani João Tempesta; the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; and Chibly Langlois, Bishop of Les Cayes in Haiti.
Other new cardinals will be Andrew Yeom Soo jung, archbishop of Seoul, South Korea; Jean-Pierre Kutwa, archbishop of Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.
At the same time, the pope is also making a concerted effort to reshape the Church in the present, with such measures as an extraordinary meeting on the family called by Francis for October 2014. The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization is the official title selected for the extraordinary general assembly of the synod of bishops to be held in the Vatican - only the third time such an assembly has been called since the synod's creation in 1965.
In preparation, the Vatican has been surveying its priests around the world for input on controversial issues ranging from same-sex marriage to surrogate motherhood to polygamy.