Pope urges new cardinals to be peacemakers with compassion

(Photo: REUTERS / Max Rossi)Pope Francis embraces newly elected cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-Jung of South Korea during a consistory ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 22, 2014. Pope Francis will install 19 new Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world on Saturday.

Pope Francis created 19 hand-picked Catholic prelates as cardinals on Saturday urging them to be peacemakers with compassion who reject a worldly mentality.

The Pope had the day before held his first formal meeting of the church's cardinals, the Roman Catholic Church's highest tier of leadership.

The College of Cardinals now consists of 122 cardinal electors out of a total of 218. Only cardinals who are aged under-80 are eligible to elect a new pope, and the Argentine pontiff has shifted away from the predominance of European leadership.

And for the first time, representation is evenly balanced between 61 from Europe and 61 from the rest of the world.

Francis told the cardinals, "Jesus did not come to teach a philosophy, an ideology... but rather 'a way', a journey to be undertaken with him, and we learn the way as we go, by walking. Yes, dear brothers, this is our joy: to walk with Jesus.

"But this is not easy, or comfortable, because the way that Jesus chooses is the way of the Cross."

Two of the new cardinals are from Africa, two from Asia and six from Latin America, which is home to nearly half the world's Catholics and the Pope himself.

"The Church needs your compassion, especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world," said Francis.

"The Church needs us also to be peacemakers, building peace by our words, our hopes and our prayers: let us therefore invoke peace and reconciliation for those peoples presently experiencing violence and war."

At the start of Saturday's celebration in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis embraced his predecessor Benedict XVI, who was seated not far from the soon-to-be Cardinals.

Since he became Pope in March last year Francis has spoken up for the poor urging Christians to rethink their lifestyles whilst making gestures towards a more humble papacy.

He picked a man who was not an archbishop but a bishop from the one of the world's poorest nations, Haiti, the 55-year-old Chibly Langlois to be that country's first cardinal and chose another from the tiny Caribbean nation of St. Lucia (Kelvin Edward Felix).

Nicaragua (Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano), Burkina Faso (Philippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo) and Côte d'Ivoire (Jean-Pierre Kutwa) also get new cardinals, as does Canada (Gérald Cyprien Lacroix), but not the United States.

The Archbishop of Seoul Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, has ancestors who were among lay people who brought Christianity to the Korean peninsula in the 19th century.

UNANews reported that his great-great grandfather and his wife were executed as part of the Joseon Dynasty's persecution of Christians in 1850. Of the six children in his immediate family, three became priests.

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