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Pope to create 19 new cardinals, many from outside Europe

Published on Feb 22, 2014 11:04 AM

DE LA VAISSIERE VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis will create his first batch of cardinals on Saturday, with nine of the 19 coming from South America, Africa and Asia.

The new "princes of the Church" will be presented with scarlet-red birettas and gold rings at a grandiose ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica that Vatican observers say should help correct a perceived bias towards European cardinals.

Sixteen of the 19 cardinals are under the age of 80 and can therefore take part in the secretive conclave that elects new popes from among their ranks.

In an indication of the importance of the developing world for the Argentine pope - a fierce critic of economic inequality - half are non-Europeans, including five cardinals from South America, two Africans and two Asians.

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