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Pope elevates six cardinals

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Vatican: Six new cardinals, including an Indian, are joining the elite club of churchmen who will elect the next pope, bringing a more geographically diverse mix into the European-dominated College of Cardinals.

Pope Benedict XVI will formally elevate the six at a ceremony Saturday, bestowing red hats and gold rings on prelates from Colombia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Philippines and US.

In explaining his choices for this “little consistory,” Benedict said he was essentially completing his last cardinal-making ceremony held in February, when he elevated 22 cardinals, the vast majority of them European archbishops and Vatican bureaucrats.

The six new cardinals “show that the church is the church of all peoples and speaks in all languages,” Benedict said last month. “It’s not the church of one continent, but a universal church.”

That said, the College of Cardinals remains heavily European even with the new additions: Of the 120 cardinals under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope, more than half, 62, are European.

Critics have complained that the College of Cardinals no longer represents the church, since Catholicism is growing in Asia and Africa but is in crisis in much of Europe.

Among the six new cardinals is Archbishop James Harvey, the American prefect of the papal household. As prefect, Harvey was the direct superior of the pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, who is serving an 18 month prison sentence in a Vatican jail for stealing the pope’s private papers and leaking them to a reporter.

Aside from Harvey, the new cardinals are: Abuja, Nigeria Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan; Bogota, Colombia Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez; Manila, Philippines Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle; Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon, His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai; and the major Archbishop of the Trivandrum of the Siro-Malankaresi in India, His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal. (AP)

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