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Pope Francis' New Cardinals Emphasize Care For The Poor

Francis' appointees include only two Europeans and no Americans. Instead, he chose many lesser-known bishops from poorer countries.
Posted at 7:56 PM, Jan 12, 2014

Pope Francis appointed 19 new cardinals Sunday, his first appointments since becoming pope 10 months ago. And analysts say his picks send a message about his goals for the Catholic Church under his leadership.

The 19 men include 16 who would be eligible to vote in a papal conclave if a new pope has to be chosen and three whose appointments are more honorary, as they're over the voting age limit of 80. (Via The Vatican)

Twelve countries around the world are represented in the new appointments, but those nationalities are what's getting analysts talking. For instance, no Americans and only two Europeans were appointed. (Via The Vatican)

​Instead, Francis' appointments come from poorer countries such as the Ivory Coast, Haiti and Burkina Faso, and he opted not to appoint traditional shoo-ins like the archbishops of Venice or Turin. (Via Rumeurs d'Abidjan, Le Nouvelliste, Burkina24)

A writer for Religion News Service says this shows "a greater focus on the poor, a bigger voice for the Global South and a reduced emphasis on the traditional hierarchical perks."

Analysts also say Francis is sending a message not just about which countries he wants represented, but also about what kind of church leadership styles he wants to honor.

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"The message Pope Francis is giving is he wants bishops with, as he calls it, the 'smell of sheep' on them, pastors with the smell of sheep, people who have experience of running diocese, of being among the people." (Via BBC)

Of course, these aren't drastic decisions from Francis. More than one church commentator notes that he could have gone further by, say, appointing even more cardinals, breaking the traditional 120 limit. (Via Whispers in the Loggia)

Instead, The Guardian calls Francis' move "a delicate balancing act between Vatican convention and Francis's spirit of innovation."

The new appointees are scheduled to get their red caps in a ceremony Feb. 22.