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Pope appoints new cardinals

The Pope has selected half a dozen new non-European cardinals of diverse origins. The leader of the Catholic Church has faced criticism in the past for paying insufficient attention to the needs of the developing world.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday appointed six new cardinals, all non-Europeans - a move that further diversifies the elite group that will one day decide his successor.

"I want to highlight in particular the fact that the church is the church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents... amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God," Benedict said in a sermon during a "consistory" ceremony at St Peter's Basilica to initiate the appointees.

The Pope's new cardinals range between 53 and 72-years-old and are from Nigeria, India, the Philippines, Colombia, Lebanon and the United States. None of those appointed were European.

Criticisms about diversity

Benedict has in the past been criticized for allegedly neglecting the developing world: His decision to choose seven Italians for 22 appointments in February attracted scrutiny .

The new cardinals' names are Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria; Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, an archbishop of the Syro-Malankara rite, India; Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez from Bogota, Colombia; Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle from Manila, Philippines; Archbishop James Michael Harvey of the United States, and Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, Lebanon.

The appointments increase the number of elite members of the Church who can vote for a new pope to 120, of which 62 are European.

Sex abuse case scandal

The Pope also on Saturday announced the appointment of a new bishop in the Irish diocese of Cloyne, to replace the prelate, John Magee. Magee stepped down over two years ago amid allegations that he had mishandled sex abuse cases.

The new bishop was named as Father William Crean, who is 60-years-old and works in Caversiveen. Since 2009, an Irish bishop has overseen the Cloyne diocese as a Vatican special administrator .

sej/rc (Reuters, dpa)