Pope Francis named 17 new cardinals Sunday—13 of them under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect his successor. Three of the new cardinals are Americans, including leading US moderate Chicago Archbishop Blaise Cupich and Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin. As is Francis' tradition, the new cardinals hail from some of the most peripheral corners of the globe, with Africa, Asia, South America, and Oceania getting far more representation than Europe, which the AP reports has long dominated the College of Cardinals. New to the club of the "princes" of the church are bishops from Bangui, Central African Republic; Port Louis, Mauritius; and Tlalnepantla, Mexico. Only one Italian elector was named: Francis' ambassador to "the beloved and martyred Syria," Cardinal-elect Mario Zenari. Francis said the 17 would be elevated at a consistory on Nov. 19, on the eve of the close to his Holy Year of Mercy.
Of the new cardinals, Cupich is very much a pastor in Francis' likeness, emphasizing the merciful and welcoming side of the church—somewhat to the dismay of US conservative Catholics. His nomination as Chicago archbishop was Francis' first major US appointment and he was a papal appointee at the pope's big family synod last year. The nomination for Tobin could indicate Francis' appreciation of Tobin's support for American nuns. Tobin had been the No. 2 in the Vatican office for religious orders when in 2012, then-Pope Benedict XVI sent him back to the US to the Indianapolis archdiocese, which had fewer than 230,000 parishioners. The transfer was seen as being tied to Tobin's efforts to resolve tensions between the Vatican and US nuns who were subject of two Holy See investigations. After Francis was elected, both investigations were concluded with Vatican praise for the sisters. The third American, Kevin Farrell, is the outgoing bishop of Dallas. (Read more Pope Francis stories.)