At today's general audience, Pope Benedict XVI announced he will appoint six new cardinals, including an American, at a consistory that will be held Nov. 24.
“I invite everyone to pray for the newly elected, asking the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that they will always love with courage and dedication to Christ and his Church,” the Holy Father said in a St. Peter’s Square, which was teeming with pilgrims and visitors, many who came to Rome for Sunday’s canonization of seven new saints.
The cardinals-elect are: Archbishop James M. Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household; Bechara Boutros Raï, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch in Lebanon; Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal of India, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria; Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogotá, Colombia; and Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in the Philippines.
“The cardinals have the task of helping the Successor of Peter in carrying out his ministry of confirming the brethren in the faith, and that is the principle and foundation of unity and communion of the Church,” the Pope noted.
The lone American is Archbishop Harvey of the titular see of Memphis, who was named Prefect of the Papal Household by Blessed John Paul II in 1998. Pope Benedict XVI said he plans to appoint the Milwaukee native, 63, Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
In his role as head of the Pope’s household, he has what is considered one of the most important positions in the Vatican because he handles requests for meetings with the Pope and arranges his appearances.
This will be Pope Benedict’s fifth consistory. After Nov. 24 he will have created 90 cardinals during his pontificate. That will bring the College of Cardinals up to 211. The 120 who are under 80 years of age will be eligible to vote in a conclave.
In a geographical breakdown of current cardinal-electors, Europe has 62, North America 14, South America 21, Africa and Asia both 11, and Oceania 3.
Corrected at 12:58 a.m. CST. Due to a reporting error, Archbishop Harvey's age was originally listed as 49 and it was said that he will remain the head of the Papal Household.