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Pope Francis names new cardinals as predecessor makes rare appearance

Published on Feb 22, 2014 9:33 PM

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis appointed his first batch of cardinals on Saturday, as his predecessor Benedict made a surprise rare appearance at the ceremony naming the new "princes of the Church".

The new cardinals were 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.

Nine of the 19 cardinals appointed on Saturday came from South America, Africa and Asia.

Former pope Benedict XVI, who last year became the first pontiff to retire since the Middle Ages, joined the cardinals in the front row of the basilica.

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