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Pope Francis announces first cardinal appointments

Pope Francis has announced his first appointees as cardinals since taking office last year. Most of the new cardinals will be eligible to elect his successor.

Pope Francis

made the announcement as he addressed a crowd of Roman Catholic worshippers gathered at St. Peter's Square on Sunday.

Sixteen of the 19 appointees announced on Sunday are under the age of 80, meaning that they are to become "cardinal electors," who would currently be eligible to enter a conclave to choose his successor should he pass away or choose to

resign, as his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI,

did.

Among these is German-born Gerhard Ludwig Müller, archbishop-bishop emeritus of Regensburg, who currently serves as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office Benedict, his fellow countryman, held prior to becoming pope in 2005.

The other three, who are over 80, who will be among the present pope's circle of advisors but not eligible for a conclave, will receive the designation “cardinal emeritus.”

Many of the others named by Francis on Sunday come from third-world countries, something which appeared to be in keeping with the

pope's focus on helping the poor.

The ceremony to elevate the new cardinals, known as a consistory, is to be held on February 22.

pfd/tj (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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