Pope Francis appointed 14 new cardinals on Thursday, a diverse selection from all over the world including Iraq, Pakistan, Madagascar and Japan whom he warned to avoid the kind of “palace intrigues” which have plagued the Vatican over the years.
The appointments come as the Argentine pontiff gradually shapes a less European college of cardinals.
Before the ceremony marking their appointment, Francis warned the new batch of cardinals that they must not get involved in “palace intrigues” within the Vatican but focus on “those who are hungry, the forgotten, the prisoner, the sick, the addict, the abandoned person”.
Among the new “princes” of the church is Iraq's Louis Raphael Sako who has often met Pope Francis to discuss the situation in the war-torn country and the plight of the dwindling Christian community.
From Pakistan comes Joseph Coutts of Karachi who promotes dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
Coutts fights the abusive use of the crime of blasphemy in a country where churches are under police protection due to threats from extremist groups.
Desire Tsarahazana from Toamasina in Madagascar is the only African among the new cardinals. “The people are suffering and need support,” he said of his appointment.