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Pope Francis to formally induct 20 new cardinals

2015-02-13

Pope Francis is continuing to shape the direction of the Catholic Church in major ways. His latest move: further internationalizing the College of Cardinals.

The new cardinals come from 14 countries spread over six continents. Of the 20 cardinals, 15 of them are under-80 years old and eligible to vote in future conclaves.

Pope Francis has made a bold statement with his decision, choosing cardinals from some of the furthest peripheries of the Universal Church.

Three voting-age cardinals come from Asia, three from Latin America, two from Africa, and two from Oceania. Just five are European.

Cape Verde, Myanmar, and Tonga will have their first ever cardinals.

The youngest in the group is 53-year-old Soane Patita Paini Mafi, who was the Bishop of Tonga. The small nation has just 15,000 Catholics and is 11,000 miles from Rome. 

The other new cardinals come from France, Portugal, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Italy, Vietnam, Mexico, Thailand, Uruguay, Spain, Panama, Colombia, Germany, Argentina, and Mozambique.

The appointments represent a major shift in the Church. Europeans no longer have a majority in the College of Cardinals.

Less than two years into his papcy, about 25 percent of the voting-age cardinals have been chosen by Pope Francis.


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