U.S. Cardinal-designate James Harvey, prefect of the papal household, left, talks with Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the pope's personal secretary, moments after the pope named the U.S. prelate among six new cardinals Oct. 24 during the general audience in St. P eter's Square at the Vatican. The pope surprised pilgrims at the audience by announcing he would create the new cardinals at a Nov. 24 consistory. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope names six new cardinals 

By  Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
  • October 24, 2012

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI surprised pilgrims in St. Peter's Square Oct. 24 by announcing he would create six new cardinals in late November.

The Pope said the consistory to create the new cardinals, who come from six countries, would take place Nov. 24, the feast of Christ the King.

It will be the smallest group of cardinals created since the 1977 consistory when Pope Benedict, the then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, received his red hat from Pope Paul VI along with three other churchmen.

The new cardinals will include: 63-year-old U.S. Archbishop James Harvey, prefect of the papal household; Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, 72; Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, 68; Colombian Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, 70; and Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manila, 55.

Pope Benedict made the announcement at the end of his weekly general audience, which was attended by about 20,000 pilgrims. As is usual, Cardinal-designate Harvey was seated next to the Pope during the audience. While he did not visibly react when his name was announced, the new cardinal-designate smiled and had a brief moment with the Pope before returning to his normal duties of helping lead important guests up to the Pope.

Telling the crowd that he had the "great joy" of announcing new cardinals, Pope Benedict said cardinals have "the task of helping the successor of Peter in his ministry" of strengthening people's faith and promoting the unity of the Church.

The Pope asked Catholics to pray that the new cardinals would "always love Christ and His Church with courage and dedication."

Of the six soon-to-be cardinals, only Cardinal-designates Harvey and Salazar were not members of the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, which was meeting at the Vatican when the Pope made his announcement.

The late-November consistory will bring the total number of cardinals to 211 and the number of cardinals under age 80 to 120. Until they reach their 80th birthdays, cardinals are eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.

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