Pope Francis on Saturday created 20 cardinals from various continents, choosing men who mostly agree with his vision of a more progressive and inclusive Church and who will influence the choice of his eventual successor.
Francis, 85, presided over a ceremony known as a public consistory, calling on the new cardinals to show concern for ordinary people despite their high rank, which will bring them into contact with the powerful on earth.
It is the eighth time that Francis has put his stamp on the future of the Church with a new creation of cardinals, who will serve as his top advisers and administrators at the Vatican and around the world.
Those under 80 – 16 among the 20 newcomers – can enter a conclave to elect a new pope from among their number, after Francis dies or resigns.
The new cardinals come from Great Britain, South Korea, Spain, France, Nigeria, Brazil, India, the United States, East Timor, Italy, Ghana, Singapore, Paraguay and Colombia.
“A cardinal loves the Church, always with that same spiritual fire, whether dealing with the big questions or handling everyday problems, with the powerful of this world or with those ordinary people who are great in the eyes of God,” Francis said. .
Sitting before the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis asked them to remember “poor families, migrants and the homeless.”
He read his homily in a loud voice, often going off script, even to joke about a priest in Rome who was so close to his parishioners that he not only knew all their names, but also those of their dogs.
Francis, elected as pope in 2013, has already elected 83 of the 132 cardinal electors, that is, about 63%.
With each consistory, Francis has continued what one diplomat has called an “Asian tilt,” raising the likelihood that the next pope could be from the region that is a growing economic and political power.