24 Nov 2012

New cardinals to reflect a 'Church of all peoples'

8:45 pm on 24 November 2012

Pope Benedict XVI will install six new cardinals at a ceremony in the Vatican on Saturday, including three from countries with large Muslim populations.

The cardinals - the closest aides of the pontiff - come from the Philippines, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Colombia and the United States, the BBC reports.

The Pope has said the second consistory he has called this year aims to show that "the Church is a Church of all peoples (and) speaks in all languages".

The cardinal-designates are younger than 80 and likely to be eligible to vote for a new pontiff when Pope Benedict dies.

The new cardinals to be presented are: US Archbishop James Harvey, 63, Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, 72, Indian Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, 68, Colombian Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, 70, and Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle, 55.

The Pope has been criticised for appointing mainly Europeans as cardinals in the past. In February this year, he created 22 new cardinals including 16 Europeans, seven of whom are Italian.

By adding six non-Europeans to the number of 114 cardinal electors, the Pope has slightly shifted the geographical demographic of cardinal-electors. Europeans still make up the majority, but down from 55% to 51%.

The Church estimates that less than a quarter of the world's Catholics live in Europe.