Pope Benedict installed 24 new Roman Catholic Cardinals from around the world on Saturday. During the solemn ceremony at St. Peters Basilica, each of the 24 men swore their loyalty to him, to future popes and to the church, even if it meant giving their lives.
Twenty of the new cardinals are under 80 and thus eligible under church rules to take part in the conclave that chooses a successor after the death or resignation of the current pope. Popes usually reign for life but Benedict, 83, has not ruled out the possibility of resigning for health reasons. The last time a pope resigned willingly was in the 13th century.
The 24 new cardinals come from Italy, Guinea, Poland, Switzerland, Egypt, the United States, Spain, Germany, Zambia, Ecuador, Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil and Sri Lanka.
Joining the College of Cardinals from Latin America are the archbishop emeritus of Quito in Ecuador, Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, and the archbishop of Aparecida in Brazil, Raymundo Damasceno Assis.
The latest batch of appointments takes the regional blocs in the electoral college to: Europe-62 cardinals; Latin America-21; North America-15; Africa-12; Asia-10; Pacific region-1.