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Pope Appoints 31 New Cardinals


Pope John Paul II appointed 31 new cardinals during Mass at the Vatican Tuesday. The group of cardinals elects new popes. One new cardinal's name will remain secret.

It was the ninth consistory of Pope John Paul's papacy. The ceremony was held in Saint Peter's Square under cloudy skies.

The pope appeared very tired after a week of events to mark the 25th anniversary of his election to the papacy.

Friends and family members of the new cardinals as well as many pilgrims and tourists attended the two-hour service. During the mass, the 83-year-old pope managed to utter just a few words.

Pope John Paul did not himself read out the list of the names of the newly installed cardinals. And for the second time in just three days, he did not read the homily in a major celebration.

The Vatican's secretary of state, Angelo Sodano read out the pope's message. The scarlet of a cardinal's robes evokes the color of blood and recalls the heroism of the martyrs, he said. The pope also said the new cardinals, from 22 different countries, reflect the multiplicity of the races and the cultures that characterize Christian people.

The name of one of the 31 new cardinals was kept secret, an option normally used to protect a cardinal from possible hostile reaction in an anti-Vatican environment.

Under Pope John Paul, the College of Cardinals has become more international and less Italian. But Europe retains the biggest bloc, followed by Latin America.

The latest additions raised the number in the College of Cardinals to 194, but of these, only 135 are under 80 years of age and therefore eligible to vote for a successor to the pope.

Due to the pope's failing health, many observers feel this was the pope's last chance to ensure his conservative stamp remains imprinted on the church. All but five of the existing cardinals have been appointed by Pope John Paul, making it likely that any immediate successors to the papacy will have his same views.

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