VATICAN CITY, May 20: Pope Francis announced on Sunday he has chosen 14 men to be the newest cardinals in the church, among them his chief aide for helping Rome’s homeless and poor, as well as prelates based in Iraq and Pakistan, where Christians are a vulnerable minority.
“I am happy to announce that on June 29, I will hold a consistory (ceremony) to make 14 new cardinals,” Francis said, in remarks to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square.
“The countries of provenance express the universality of the church, which continues to announce the merciful love of God to all men on Earth,” Francis added. Then he revealed his picks to be the latest “princes of the church,” including from Africa, elsewhere in Asia, and South America, as he continues to make the College of Cardinals less European than it had been in centuries past.
Among the new cardinals is Louis Raphael I Sako, the Baghdad-based patriarch of Babylonia of the Chaldeans. Also to be made cardinal is Joseph Coutts, archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan.
Francis has repeatedly highlighted the plight of Christians persecuted and even slain for their faith in areas where Islamic fundamentalists have targeted them.
Two top Vatican officials will also receive the honor of joining churchmen who vote for new popes in secret conclaves. They are Spanish Monsignor Luis Ladaria, who heads the Holy See’s powerful office in charge of ensuring doctrinal orthodoxy, and, like the pope, is a Jesuit; and Italian Monsignor Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the No. 2 in the influential secretariat of state office. Becciu is also special delegate to the recently troubled Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
Another Italian to be made cardinal is a Rome vicar general, Monsignor Angelo De Donatis. The pope, while leader of the entire Roman Catholic church, also serves as Rome’s top bishop. (AP)