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Pope Francis Names 19 New Cardinals, None From The U.S.

Pope Francis continues to shake up the Vatican establishment. Today, speaking from his studio window to followers in St. Peter's square, he announced 19 new cardinals from some surprising places, the AP reports.

Francis did not name any cardinals from the United States and chose instead to represent poorer nations.

Sixteen of the Cardinals are younger than 80 and will likely be eligible to vote for the next pope. Among them are archbishops from the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, Chile and Haiti.

Candida Moss, who's a professor of theology at Notre Dame, says in the past, this group would have provoked "amazement and speculation."

But with Francis, bold moves have become business as usual.

"The fact that he's picking cardinals that represent poorer nations is in keeping with the message of ministering to the poor that we've heard from him before," Moss said. "So that's not surprising."

Moss said it's also not surprising that Francis would skip naming new cardinals from the United States.

The Cardinals from Los Angeles and Philadelphia are younger than 80, which means Francis did not have to replace them in the College of Cardinals, which elects a new pope and limits voting to those under 80 years of age.

Plus, Moss said, the U.S. already has 11 cardinals, while Brazil, the country with the largest Catholic population in the world, only has five.

Moss said that the picks Francis made in the developed world also send a message.

"When it's come to wealthier nations, he's selected cardinals that tend to favor dialogue and discussion, over stark but effective proclamation," Moss said. "So, he's gone with cardinals that seem to gel with his own vision of where the church is going."

The church's new princes, as they are known, will receive their red hat during a ceremony in February.

The AP has a list of all the new cardinals.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.