VATICAN (Realist English). Pope Francis elevated 20 more churchmen to the rank of cardinal on Saturday, formally expanding those now eligible to vote for his successor in case the current leader of the Holy See dies or resigns — the latter a step he has said he’d consider if the need arises. This is reported by the France 24 TV channel.
Of the churchmen being named new cardinals in the consistory ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica, 16 are younger than 80.
The 85-year-old Francis has now named 83 of the 132 cardinals currently young enough to join a conclave. The others were appointed by the previous two popes, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose unexpected retirement in 2013 paved the way for Francis to be elected.
Among the new cardinals is Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad, India. The prelate, 60, is the first member of the Dalit community, considered the lowest rung of India’s caste system, to become a cardinal.
The Bishop of San Diego, Robert Walter McElroy, who became a cardinal, bypassing the more prestigious dioceses in the United States, also attracts attention. McElroy condemns the harassment of young people who adhere to non-traditional sexual orientation, and also opposes the campaign to deny communion to Catholic politicians who support the right to abortion.
Among the newest cardinals is Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr from Wa, Ghana, who has spoken out against LGBTQ rights.
Archbishop Ulrich Steiner of Manaus, Brazil, became the first cardinal from the Amazon, the vast, environmentally-vulnerable region in South America on the Argentine-born pontiff’s home continent. By his appointment, the Pope draws attention to the problems of economic exploitation and barbaric deforestation.
At 48, the youngest member among the cardinals’ ranks is an Italian missionary in Mongolia, where Catholics number some 1,300.