VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis created 13 new cardinals on Saturday — including the first African-American — putting his personal stamp on the body that will one day choose his successor.

Under the soaring dome of St Peter’s Basilica, the new “princes of the Church” knelt one by one at the feet of the 83-year-old pontiff, who placed the quadrangular scarlet cap, or biretta, on their heads.

The diverse group — whose members hail from Italy, Malta, the Philippines, Chile, Brunei, Mexico and the United States — reflect not only the changing face of the church of 1.3 billion faithful, but also the Jesuit pope’s belief in priests focused on the world’s poor.

The 72-year-old Archbishop of Washington, Wilton Gregory, said he was a “symbolic individual” for being made the first African-American cardinal.

Since Pope Francis’ election in 2013, the Argentine pope — the first from the Americas — has created 95 new cardinals in ceremonies known as consistories.

Those named by Pope Francis now make up the majority of those cardinals under the age of 80 who will elect his successor.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2020

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