16 cardinals under the age of 80 become cardinal electors
Pope Francis will create 19 new cardinals at the Vatican on 22 February, the Feast of the Chair of Peter, following a two-day consistory reflecting on the theme of the family.
The ceremony for the creation of the new cardinals will be held in St Peter's Basilica at 11.00 on 22 February. The new cardinals will concelebrate with the pontiff at a papal Mass the following morning at 10.00, also in the Vatican basilica.
The 16 cardinals under the age of 80 will become “cardinal electors”, meaning they are eligible to enter a conclave to elect a new pope. The other three are over 80 and will have no say in electing a future pontiff.
The 19 new cardinals, the first to be created by Pope Francis, come from 12 countries including the pope's native Buenos Aires in Argentina, out of a total of six from Latin America. Some of the poorest nations in the world are included on the list, such as the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Haiti, reflecting the humble style of Francis's papacy.
The most recognisable name on the list is the Vatican's secretary of state Pietro Parolin while the cardinals from English-speaking countries are Britain's Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and Canada's Archbishop of Québec, Gérald Cyprien Lacroix. There are no new cardinals from the US.
Underlining his penchant for simplicity, Pope Francis wrote to the cardinals-elect in January, saying that a red hat "does not signify a promotion, an honour or a decoration; it is simply a form of service that requires expanding your vision and enlarging your heart."
Following the consistory the total number of cardinals will rise to 218, with 122 of them under the age of 80. However – as the Catholic News Service points out – two current cardinal electors will reach 80 in March, bringing the number of electors back to the limit of 120 set by Pope Paul VI.