Pope names 22 new cardinals, including 2 Americans

Associated Press
Newly elected US bishop Charles John Brown, left, and newly elected bishop Marek Solczynski from Poland lay during their ordaining ceremony led by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter' s Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Jan.  6, 2012. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI clearly put his stamp on the group that will eventually elect his successor with his naming of 22 new cardinals Friday, including prelates in such key posts as New York and Hong Kong.

The group is heavy on Europeans, particularly Italians holding important Vatican posts, and includes only three prelates from outside the West: a Brazilian, an Indian and a Chinese.

The German pope, who long served at the Vatican himself before his election to the papacy in 2005, has now named half of the prelates eligible to vote in the next papal conclave.

Cardinals are the pope's top advisers, the elite group of churchmen who will eventually elect Benedict's successor. Of the 22 named Friday, 18 are under the age of 80, raising to 125 the number of cardinals eligible to vote in the next papal conclave. Cardinals aged 80 and over are not allowed to cast such votes.

The list includes two Americans: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the former archbishop of Baltimore. The nominations give the United States 12 so-called cardinal-electors, second only to Italy's 30.

Other new cardinals come from Berlin, Prague, Toronto and Florence, Italy.

The 84-year-old pope named 16 Europeans as cardinals, including seven Italians. He also named Joao Braz de Aviz, a Brazilian who heads the Vatican office for religious life; John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong; and George Alencherry, archbishop of the Syro-Malabar church in India.

The Hong Kong position is a delicate one because of continued tensions between China's mainland authorities and the Vatican over religious freedom. The retired Hong Kong bishop, Cardinal Joseph Zen, has remained a sharp critic of China's government.

The pope announced the names "with great joy" following an Epiphany Mass that ended the Vatican's main Christmas celebrations. He said they will be formally elevated at a Feb. 18 ceremony in Rome.

During the Mass, Benedict also ordained two new Vatican diplomats with the rank of archbishop, including an American, Monsignor Charles Brown, who is being sent to Ireland to heal the damage caused by the clerical sex abuse scandal. In July, the Vatican recalled its previous nuncio after Irish government officials criticized the Vatican's handling of the scandal.

However, Benedict once again passed over for cardinal Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, a major voice in the church demanding greater accountability from bishops to clean up the scandal.

The Vatican never explains the pope's choices for cardinal.

The 18 new cardinals under 80 are:

Santos Abril y Castello, (Spanish), Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major

George Alencherry, (Indian), Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church in India

Giuseppe Bertello, (Italian), President of the Government of the Vatican City State

Giuseppe Bettori, (Italian), Archbishop of Florence

Joao Braz de Aviz, (Brazil), Prefect of the Congregation for Religious

Domenico Calcagno, (Italian), President of the Apostolic Patrimony of the Holy See

Francesco Coccopalmerio, (Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts

Thomas Collins, (Canadian), Archbishop of Toronto

Timothy Dolan, (United States) Archbishop of New York

Dominik Duka, (Czech), Archbishop of Prague

Wim Eijk, (Dutch), Archbishop of Utrecht

Fernando Filoni, (Italian), Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

Antonio Maria Veglio, (Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Refugees

Manuel Monteiro de Castro, (Portuguese), Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary

Edwin O'Brien, (United States), Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre

John Tong Hon, (Chinese), Bishop of Hong Kong

Giuseppe Versaldi, (Italian), President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See

Rainer Maria Woelki, (German), Archbishop of Berlin

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The four new cardinals over 80 are:

Karl Becker (German), a priest and professor

Prosper Grech, (Maltese), a priest and professor

Lucian Muresan (Romania), an archbishop

Julien Ries, (Belgian), a monsignor and professor

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AP reporter Daniela Petroff contributed from Vatican City.

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