Pope Francis has appointed Catholic leaders from some the world’s smallest and poorest nations to the College of Cardinals. Former Pope Benedict XVI also joined the ceremony in a rare public outing.
Nineteen cardinals were appointed by Pope Francis in a ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday.
The "princes of the Church" who are joining the College of Cardinals hail from some of the smallest, most remote and poverty-stricken nations in the world.
Two are from Africa, two from Asia and six from Francis' native Latin America, which is home to nearly half the world's Catholics. However, Latin American leadership is grossly underrepresented in the church's hierarchy.
German Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller is also among those appointed.
Surprising the congregation, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who retired last year, made a rare public appearance at the ceremony. He was greeted by Francis with an embrace and by the people in the pews with applause and tears. It is the first time Benedict and Francis have appeared together at a liturgical ceremony since Benedict stepped down last March, the first pope to do so in 600 years.
Two weeks later, Francis was elected the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.
hc/tj (Reuters, AFP)