Pope Benedict XVI named 22 new cardinals on Friday, including prelates in such key posts as New York and Hong Kong and a large group of Italians holding major Vatican positions.
Cardinals are the pope’s top advisers, the elite group of churchmen who will eventually elect Benedict’s successor. Of the 22, 18 are under the age of 80 raising to 125 the number of cardinals eligible to vote in the next papal conclave. Cardinals over 80 are not allowed to vote on the next pope.
Other new cardinals come from Berlin, Prague, Toronto and Florence, Italy.
The Vatican officials include a Brazilian prelate who heads the office for Consecrated Life.
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.
The list includes two Americans- Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the former archbishop of Baltimore.
The 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 18 new cardinals under 80 are:
Fernando Filoni, (Italian), Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
Manuel Monteiro de Castro, (Portuguese), Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
Santos Abril y Castello, (Spanish), Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
Antonio Maria Veglio, (Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Refugees
Giuseppe Bertello, (Italian), President of the Government of the Vatican City State
Francesco Coccopalmerio, (Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
Joŗo Braz de Aviz, (Brazil), Prefect of the Congregation for Religious
Edwin O’Brien, (United States), Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
Domenico Calcagno, (Italian), President of the Apostolic Patrimony of the Holy See
Giuseppe Versaldi, (Italian), President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
George Alencherry, (Indian), Major Archbishop of the Syro—Malabar Church in India
Thomas Collins, (Canadian), Archbishop of Toronto
Dominik Duka, (Czech), Archbishop of Prague
Wim Eijk, (Dutch), Archbishop of Utrecht
Giuseppe Bettori, (Italian), Archbishop of Florence
Timothy Dolan, (United States) Archbishop of New York
Thomas Woelki, (German), Archbishop of Berlin
John Tong Hon, (Chinese), Bishop of Hong Kong