VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI responded to criticism that the club of churchmen who will choose his successor is too Eurocentric, elevating six new cardinals from Colombia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Philippines and the U.S. during a formal ceremony Saturday.
Benedict welcomed the prelates into the College of Cardinals during a short, hourlong ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica, telling them that their presence among the other red-robed prelates was a sign of the “unique, universal and all-inclusive identity” of the Catholic Church.
“In this consistory, I want to highlight in particular the fact that the church is the church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents,” he told the crowd.
Benedict has said that with this “little consistory,” 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.
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 in the greatest Vatican security breach in modern times.
The Vatican spokesman has denied Harvey, 63, from Milwaukee, is leaving because of the scandal. But on the day the pope announced Harvey would be made cardinal, he also said he would leave the Vatican to take up duties as the archpriest of one of the Vatican’s four Roman basilicas. Such a face-saving promotion-removal is not an uncommon Vatican personnel move.
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.
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