VATICAN CITY, ROMA, ITALY - NOVEMBER, 20: New consistory in Vatican City.
Pope Benedict XVI formally created 24 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica, , including 10 Italians, as he moves to put his stamp on Vatican affairs.
The basilica was awash in red as some 150 cardinals from around the world came to Rome for the occasion of welcoming in their newest members.
The 24 new cardinals include heads of Vatican congregations, archbishops of major cities in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, and one of them is Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (DRC) who took an active part in the Congolese government, when Mobutu died.
The new intake includes clergy who hold key Church posts in Kinshasa, Quito, Lusaka, Munich and Warsaw.
Their numbers bring the College of Cardinals to 203, 121 of whom are under age 80, making them eligible to choose the next pontiff.
During the ceremony, the new cardinals each promised to obey the pope, reading an oath in Latin to maintain communion with the Holy See, keep secrets given to them and not divulge anything that might bring harm onto the church.
After pledging the oath, each new cardinal receives his red zucchetto, or skullcap, and biretta, a three-ridged hat worn over it.
The new cardinals bring to 25 the number of Italians eligible to select the next pontiff, leading some Vatican watchers to speculate that the next Pope will be Italian.
For four centuries, until the election of Polish Pope John Paul II in 1978, the papacy was dominated by Italians.
It is the third time Pope Benedict has chosen new cardinals since succeeding John Paul II in 2005 and with this addition, he will have hand-picked 40 percent of the college, infusing it with conservative, tradition-minded prelates like himself and almost ensuring that a future pope will carry on the path he has set out for the church.
Pope Benedict XVI.
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