[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 14:28 GMT
Pope nominates 15 new cardinals
Pope Benedict XVI announces his nominations for new cardinals
The nominations are seen as a clue to the pope's priorities
Pope Benedict XVI has named 15 new cardinals, his first nominations since taking over the papacy last year.

The men will be appointed during a ceremony at the Vatican on 24 March.

Among those nominated are Hong Kong's archbishop, an outspoken campaigner for religious freedom in China, and several from the developing world.

Correspondents say the nominations have been keenly awaited in Rome because they are seen as a leading indicator of the Pope's intentions.

One prominent appointee is Krakow Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the long-time private secretary of Pope Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II.

Another is the archbishop of Boston, Sean O'Malley, brought in by the Vatican to clean up the US archdiocese following a child sex abuse scandal.

Close secret

The nominees come from 11 countries, with the archbishops of Caracas in Venezuela, Manila in the Philippines, Seoul in South Korea and Toledo in Spain among them.

Speaking at his weekly audience, Pope Benedict said the new cardinals would "reflect the universality of the Church".

Hong Kong Archbishop Joseph Zen
Joseph Zen has campaigned for greater religious freedom in China

"In fact, they come from various parts of the world and carry out different tasks in the service of the people of God," he said.

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Rome says the nominations - kept a close secret until announced - are the Vatican's equivalent of a cabinet reshuffle.

The appointment of Hong Kong Archbishop Joseph Zen signals that religious freedom is very important to Pope Benedict, he says.

Other nominations are more personal, such as that of the US Archbishop William Levada, who took over the current Pope's former job of Vatican doctrinal enforcer.

The appointments in the developing world indicate the Pope's desire to build on the Church's involvement there, our correspondent adds.

Twelve of the 15 nominated are currently aged under 80, making them potentially eligible to vote in a conclave to elect Pope Benedict's successor.

After the Consistory, the Vatican ceremony at which they are appointed, there will be 193 cardinals in total, of whom 73 will be aged over 80.

The total number permitted to vote in a conclave to elect a new pontiff is 120, a limit established by Pope Paul VI in 1973.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific