Pope Francis added 13 new cardinals to the top of the Catholic hierarchy on Saturday, telling them they must show God's compassion to those who suffer to be faithful to their ministry, the AP reports. Francis presided over the ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica, elevating churchmen who share his pastoral concerns at a time when his pontificate is under fire from conservatives within the College of Cardinals itself. Among the 13 are 10 cardinals who are under age 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave, increasing the likelihood that a future pope might end up looking an awful lot like the current one. These are churchmen who care for migrants, promote dialogue with Muslims and minister to the faithful in poor, far-flung missionary dioceses.
With Saturday's consistory, Francis will have named 52% of the voting-age cardinals, many of whom hail from churches in the developing world that never have had a "prince" representing them; it takes two thirds of cardinals under 80 to choose his successor, per the New York Times. Francis was in many ways preaching to the choir when he urged the new cardinals to both feel and share God's compassion, saying it was an "essential" part of understanding God's love for the weakest and most marginal. "If I don't feel it, how can I share it, bear witness to it, bestow it on others?" he asked in his homily. The consistory comes at a fraught time in Francis' six-year papacy, when conservative Catholics are mounting more opposition to his priorities and style.
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