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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September, 2003, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Pope appoints 31 new cardinals
Pope John Paul II
The Pope has reigned for 25 years
Pope John Paul has appointed 31 new cardinals, stamping his authority on the group that will elect his successor when he dies.

The name of one of the cardinals is being kept secret, a formula used when an announcement could endanger him - for example in a country where the church faces oppression.

All but a handful of the new cardinals are under 80, so would be eligible to vote on the pontiff's successor.

The pontiff has come under increasing pressure to get the papal electoral college in order following the death and ageing of some of its members, says BBC correspondent in Rome David Willey.

Boston excluded

The appointments were announced by the Pope to pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square.

Correspondents say that with many coming from the developing world, the announcement will add to speculation that the next Pope could come from there.

The list did not include Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley, recently called to head the Boston archdiocese in the wake of a child sex scandal.

WHERE ARE THE NEW CARDINALS FROM?
Europe 18
Americas 5
Africa 3
Asia-Pacific 3
South Asia 1
One unnamed

He had been widely expected to be made a cardinal.

The cardinals will get their red hats at a special service, known as a consistory, to be held on 21 October, at the end of ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the pontiff's election.

The new cardinals include top Vatican officials - such as the Vatican's foreign minister - as well as prelates from Italy, Nigeria, France, Spain, Brazil, Ghana, India, Croatia, Guatemala, Hungary, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, the Czech Republic and the pontiff's native Poland.

It is the ninth time the frail 83-year-old Pope has named new cardinals and is perhaps his last chance to influence the group of men that will choose the next leader of the world's one billion Catholics.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Willey
"Among the new cardinals could be the next Pope"



SEE ALSO:
Pope appoints Scottish cardinal
28 Sep 03  |  Scotland
Profile: Pope John Paul II
22 Apr 02  |  Europe
Ailing Pope ends Slovak visit
14 Sep 03  |  Europe
The globe-trotter Pope
13 Sep 03  |  From Our Own Correspondent
In pictures: Pope's 83rd birthday
18 May 03  |  Photo Gallery
Pope's litany of health problems
16 May 02  |  Europe
The Pope's new cardinals
28 Sep 03  |  Europe


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