Pope Francis is to elevate five Roman Catholic prelates from outside Italy and the Vatican to the rank of cardinal, the elite group of churchmen who are his closest advisers and can enter a conclave to choose his successor.
The pope, making the surprise announcement during his weekly Sunday address (May 21), said the men came from Mali, Spain, Sweden, Laos and El Salvador. The ceremony to elevate them, known as a consistory, would take place on June 28.
The fact that none of the five are Italian and none hold Vatican positions underscores Francis’ conviction that the Church is a global institution that should become increasingly less Italian-centric.
Naming new cardinals is one of the most significant powers of the papacy, allowing a pontiff to put his stamp on the future of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church.
The new cardinals were named as Archbishop Jean Zerbo, 73, of Bamako, Mali, Archbishop Juan José Omella, 71, of Barcelona, Spain, Bishop Anders Arborelius, 67, of Stockholm, Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, 73, of Pakse, Laos, and Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chávez, 74, of San Salvador.
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