Skip to main content

Pope Francis to name first cardinals in February

By Hada Messia and Susannah Cullinane, CNN
October 31, 2013 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pope Francis will create new cardinals of the Catholic Church on February 22
  • Cardinals are the highest-ranking clergy in the Catholic Church below the pope
  • The ceremony at which new cardinals are created is known as a consistory
  • There are currently 201 cardinals in the Catholic Church

Rome (CNN) -- Pope Francis will create new cardinals of the Catholic Church for his first time on February 22, the Vatican announced Thursday.

Cardinals are the highest-ranking clergy in the Catholic Church below the pope, and they're the ones who elect popes, so Francis will be appointing his first group of men who will ultimately help choose his successor.

There are now 201 cardinals. However, once a cardinal reaches 80 he is no longer permitted to participate in the election of a pope -- this falls to a group of 120 "cardinal electors."

In a statement announcing the news, Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said a meeting of all the existing cardinals would be held before the ceremony to elevate the new cardinals, known as a consistory.

Boy refuses to leave the Pope's side

"Pope Francis has decided to communicate his decision to convoke February's consistory in advance in order to facilitate the planning of other meetings involving the participation of cardinals from different parts of the world," Lombardi said.

Jack Valero of Catholic Voices said that by February, the number of cardinal electors was likely to have dropped. He said usually a pope would name as many cardinals as was needed to raise the number of cardinal electors back to 120 and as many cardinals aged over 80 as he wanted.

Next year's consistory would be significant because it would be the first since Francis was elected in March this year, Valero said.

"At the moment there is a sort of bias towards Europe and especially towards Italy. It will be interesting to see whether the new Pope will nominate cardinals from the rest of the world to restore the balance," he said.

"Forty percent of Roman Catholics are in South America, but they have a tiny number of cardinals."

The cardinals will also be the first to be chosen since Francis formed the Council of Cardinals, a group of eight cardinals from around the world tasked with looking into ways to reform the church.

Read more: Pope Francis tasks cardinals with studying reform

"In the past the Pope decided everything on his own. Now Francis has selected these eight cardinals to help him," Valero said. He said it was "quite possible" that Francis would ask the cardinals for advice.

"But we've not been in that situation before -- it's all completely new."

Valero said popes typically elevated bishops from large places to the position of cardinal but that Francis was "full of surprises -- so we don't know who he'll name."

Read more: Pope appoints 22 new cardinals

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT