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In naming cardinals, pope looks to developing world

Pope Francis released the names of new cardinals on January 12, making some surprising choices that largely confirmed the characteristics he wants in the Catholic Church: a greater focus on the poor, a bigger voice for the Global South and a reduced emphasis on hierarchy and its benefits.

The archbishops of Philadelphia and Los Angeles were not elevated to red-hat status—perhaps because both cities currently have cardinals under age 80, who are eligible to vote in the College of Cardinals. However, the United States, with 11 voting cardinals already, compared to merely five for Brazil, is hardly being slighted in electoral clout.

In Rome on February 22, Francis will distribute 19 red hats, with 16 going to bishops under the age of 80. The number includes bishops in Haiti and Burkina Faso, among the world’s poorest nations, South Korea and the Philippines (a second cardinal for that island nation).

Five of the new cardinals are from Latin America, including Francis’s own successor in Buenos Aires, Archbishop Mario Poli, boosting representation in the College of Cardinals from the pope’s home continent by a third.

Four of the new cardinals will be from the Roman Curia, the papal bureaucracy that has been dogged by scandal and dysfunction in recent years, and three of them are Italian. But those three are also his handpicked aides. Francis shocked traditional sensibilities by declining to give red hats to the traditional “cardinalatial” sees of Venice and Turin. —RNS

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