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The College of Cardinals new balance of power

2015-02-10

With the creation of 15 new cardinals, Pope Francis has tipped the balance of power in favor of countries far from Rome.

Of the 125 cardinals with voting power, 57 are from Europe, 18 from North America, six from Central America, 12 from South America, 15 from Africa, 14 from Asia,  and three come from Oceania.

This second batch of cardinals should strengthen the reforms Pope Francis began to enact last year.

The College of Cardinals has changed significantly since the Pope was elected.

Previously, Europe had more than half of the votes when deciding a new Pope, even though the majority of Catholics are from other continents. Italy had especially outsized influence, with 25 cardinals. They made up more than 23 percent of the vote.

In February 2014, Pope Francis named his first 16 cardinals. Europe lost some influence but kept its majority. North America also lost power to Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The latest consistory further consolidates the changes and seems irreversible. Although Italy is weaker than a year ago, it still has more sway than any other country with 26 voting cardinals.

But which Pope has made the biggest imprint on the College of Cardinals? Of 125 voting cardinals, 34 were created by John Paul II, 60 by Benedict XVI and just 31 by Pope Francis.


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