Pope creates 22 new cardinals amid Vatican tensions

Pope creates 22 new cardinals amid Vatican tensions

Pope Benedict XVI today put his stamp of authority on the body that will elect his successor as he appointed 22 new cardinals, including one from India, at a time of roiling tensions in the Vatican administration.

The 84-year-old pontiff presented the new "princes of the Church" with scarlet-red birettas and gold rings while urging them to "renounce the worldly style of power and glory" in a solemn ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica.

The new members of the College of Cardinals "are asked to serve the Church with love and vigour, with the clarity and wisdom of teachers, with the energy and moral force of pastors (and) with the faith and courage of martyrs," the pope said.
The German pope did not refer directly to recent days of high-profile leaks and corruption allegations that have raised fears of a power struggle at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has denied the rumours, saying that the leaks were intended to "sow confusion" and cast the Church "in a bad light."
Among the key appointments were those of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, as well as the bishop of Hong Kong, John Tong Hon, and Archbishop George Alencherry from India.

Critics say the appointments show a strong bias towards Europe, as out of the 125 cardinals under age 80 -- "elector cardinals" eligible to elect the pope in a secret conclave -- 67 are from Europe.

Just 22 are from South America, 15 from North America, 11 from Africa and 10 from Asia and the Pacific.

Moreover, the induction of seven Italians in Benedict's fourth consistory brings to 30 the number of Italian elector cardinals -- almost a quarter of the total, far outweighing any other country.

The new cardinals include nine other Europeans as well as two Americans, one Canadian, a Brazilian, an Indian and a Hong Kong Chinese.