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Pope appoints 18 new cardinals

11 from outside Europe, 16 cardinal electors

22 February, 16:36
Pope appoints 18 new cardinals (By Denis Greenan).

(ANSA) - Vatican City, February 22 - Pope Francis appointed 18 new cardinals at a ceremony in the Vatican Saturday, topping up the elite group that will be tasked with leading a Church he is trying to change and electing his successor as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

It was the first consistory of Francis's papacy, which began in March, a month after the shock resignation of Benedict XVI.

Handing them their red caps, signifying their willingness to die for the Catholic Church, Francis told the new cardinals "the Church needs your courage".

He urged the new 'princes of the Church' to "spread the Gospel on every occasion, opportune and not opportune".

The Church needs "your compassion especially in this moment of pain and suffering in so many countries in the world," Francis said, adding the new cardinals should be "artisans of peace".

"Never give up, God loves us despite our mistakes," the pontiff said.

Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, one of the new cardinals, said "being disciples of Jesus is embarking on an adventure without measure...that may demand the gift of one's life, as has happened for many Christians around the world". Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI joined Francis - the first time two popes have been present at a public ceremony in St Peter's.

Francis walked down the nave to embrace his predecessor, who last February became the first pope in 700 years to abdicate.

Francis was to have named 19 cardinals but one, 98-year-old Monsignor Loris Capovilla, former secretary to the late pope John XXIII, was absent because of age-related frailty.

The new cardinals - 11 of them from outside Europe - have been touted as boosting Francis' reform drive by sharing decision-making in the Church.

The pope is urging bishops and cardinals to help him shape new policies. The inclusion of clerics from poor countries like Haiti and Burkina Faso have been seen as reflecting the Argentine pope's concern for the most needy and those left behind by global capitalism.

Sixteen of the new 'princes of the Church' are under 80, making them cardinal electors eligible to enter a conclave to elect the pope's successor.

The consistory is partly seen as an attempt to reflect the Catholic Church's increasing international make-up at its highest echelons. The bulk of new priests and nuns are from South American, African and other Third World countries which are still under-represented at the top levels.

The cardinals come from 12 countries. In Europe, Spain, Italy, Germany and England are represented, including the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Five are from Latin America and the Caribbean. With Saturday's appointments the College of Cardinals now has 218 cardinals, of whom 122 are under age 80. The cardinals have been meeting in plenary session to discuss family issues for the past two days.

Rome's bespoke religious tailors have been working overtime since last month to kit out the cardinals in their red regalia.

Francis's first consistory was held on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a relic kept in St. Peter's Basilica and believed to have been the throne he used.

Here is a list of the 18 new cardinals: Cardinal Electors (under 80): Archbishop Pietro Parolin (Italy) Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri (Italy) Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller (Germany) Archbishop, Beniamino Stella (Italy) Archbishop Vincent Nichols (Britain) Archbishop Leopoldo Jose Brenes Solorzano (Nicaragua) Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix (Canada) Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa (Ivory Coast) Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta (Brazil) Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti (Italy) Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli (Argentina) Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo Jung (South Korea) Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello (Chile) Archbishop Philippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso) Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo (Philippines) Archbishop Chibly Langlois (Haiti) Cardinals Emeritus (over 80, with no voting rights): Archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar (Spain) Monsignor Kelvin Edward Felix (St Lucia) Monsignor Capovilla is expected to be elevated at a later date.