Pope Benedict XVI has inducted 24 new cardinals or "Princes of the Church" at a ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. They include clerics from Germany, the United States, Poland and Italy.
Like the pope, two of the new cardinals are German
Twenty-four clerics were elevated to the role of cardinal at a ceremony led by Pope Benedict XVI at St Peter's Basilica on Saturday.
As the pope read the name of each new cardinal in Latin, they were met with roaring applause from the pews of the congregation. Clad in their new scarlet cassocks - which signify their willingness to shed blood for the church - the cardinals processed through the basilica.
During the ceremony the new cardinals promise to obey the pope. Their main task is to offer him advice and eventually select his successor. The role of cardinal is the highest office in the Catholic Church, except for the pope himself.
Archbishop Reinhard Marx is one of the new cardinals
Twenty of the new cardinals are under 80 years old, and therefore they will be eligible to take part in the conclave that will elect the next pope.
They include clerics from Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Ecuador, the United States, Poland, Germany and Italy.
The new German cardinals are 57-year-old Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx and 81-year-old church historian Walter Brandmueller from Augsberg.
There are now 203 cardinals in the elite group, 121 of whom are under 80 and thus eligible to cast a vote in the conclave.
Author: Catherine Bolsover (AP, AFP, kna)
Editor: Martin Kuebler