VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI named 22 new cardinals Friday, including prelates in such key posts as New York and Hong Kong and a large number of Italians holding major Vatican positions.
Cardinals are the pope's top advisers, the elite group of churchmen who will eventually elect Benedict's successor. Of the 22, 18 are under the age of 80 — raising to 125 the number of cardinals eligible to vote in the next papal conclave. Cardinals aged 80 and over are not allowed to vote on the next pope.
The list includes two Americans: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the former archbishop of Baltimore.
Other new cardinals come from Berlin, Prague, Toronto and Florence, Italy.
The 84-year-old pope named 16 Europeans as cardinals, including seven Italians. He also named Joao Braz de Aviz, a Brazilian who heads the Vatican office for religious life; John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong; and George Alencherry, archbishop of the Syro-Malabar church in India.
The pope announced the names "with great joy" following an Epiphany Mass that ended the Vatican's main Christmas celebrations. He said they will be formally elevated at a Feb. 18 ceremony in Rome.
During the Mass, Benedict also ordained two new Vatican diplomats with the rank of archbishop, including an American, Monsignor Charles Brown, who is being sent to Ireland to heal the damnage caused by the clerical sex abuse scandal.
However, Benedict once again passed over for cardinal Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, a major voice in the church demanding greater accountability from bishops to clean up the scandal.
The Vatican never explains the pope's choices for cardinal.
The 18 new cardinals under 80 are:
Santos Abril y Castello, (Spanish), Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
George Alencherry, (Indian), Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church in India
Giuseppe Bertello, (Italian), President of the Government of the Vatican City State
Giuseppe Bettori, (Italian), Archbishop of Florence
João Braz de Aviz, (Brazil), Prefect of the Congregation for Religious
Domenico Calcagno, (Italian), President of the Apostolic Patrimony of the Holy See
Francesco Coccopalmerio, (Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
Thomas Collins, (Canadian), Archbishop of Toronto
Timothy Dolan, (United States) Archbishop of New York
Dominik Duka, (Czech), Archbishop of Prague
Wim Eijk, (Dutch), Archbishop of Utrecht
Fernando Filoni, (Italian), Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
Antonio Maria Veglio, (Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Refugees
Manuel Monteiro de Castro, (Portuguese), Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
Edwin O'Brien, (United States), Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
John Tong Hon, (Chinese), Bishop of Hong Kong
Giuseppe Versaldi, (Italian), President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
Thomas Woelki, (German), Archbishop of Berlin
The four new cardinals over 80 are:
Karl Becker (German), a priest and professor
Prosper Grech, (Maltese), a priest and professor
Lucian Muresan (Romania), an archbishop
Julien Ries, (Belgian), a monsignor and professor
AP reporter Daniela Petroff contributed from Vatican City