Pope John Paul II on Sunday announced that he would appoint 37 new cardinals at a consistory next month to replace those in the present panel who have died or have become too old to vote.
The pope said the consistory would be held on February 21.
The meeting will be the eighth such sitting called since John Paul II became the head of the Roman Catholic Church in 1978. During the previous seven meetings, the pontiff appointed a total of 157 cardinals.
Under Vatican rules, there must be at least 120 voters under the age of 80 in the so-called College of Cardinals -- which is to eventually elect John Paul's successor -- but over the years, the number of members of the college has fallen below its required number.
The present college is made up of some 141 members, but only 97 of them are under 80, qualifying them as electors in the event of a papal conclave, or the election of a new pope.
With the new appointments, the college will have 178 members, including 129 who are so far younger than 80.
Nominee Roberto Tucci, a Jesuit, will however, be 80 years old on April 21 and can then no longer be part of the next conclave, which will firmly bear the mark of the present pope.
Next month's consistory will see a record number of new cardinals, after a previous meeting held by Paul VI in 1969, when 33 were appointed.
John Paul II noted that the nominees were "from all parts of the world," and therefore reflected the Roman Catholic Church's claim to universality.
He will also appoint a number of cardinals whose names will be kept secret for political or other reasons. These could be church officials in China, or members of the Rome Curia considered too involved in their respective fields to openly become cardinals.
During the last consistory in 1998, the pope named two such cardinals.
Among those who will be appointed by the pope are Cormac Murphy-OConnor, archbishop of Westminster; Theodore Edgar McCarrick, archbishop of Washington; Desmond Connell, archbishop of Dublin; Edward Michael Egan, archbishop of New York; P. Avery Dulles, professor emeritus at New York's Fordham University; and Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay.
The other nominees are:
- Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Vatican congregation of bishops;
- Archbishop Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace;
- Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, president of the Vatican administration of the Holy See's patrimony;
- Archbishop Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Vatican prefecture for economic affairs;
- Archbishop Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education;
- Archbishop Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints;
- Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, secretary general of the committee which organized the Vatican's Jubilee 2000 celebrations;
- Jorge Maria Mejia, archbishop of Durres, Albania;
- Ignace Moussa i Daoud, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches;
- Archbishop Mario Francesco Pompedda;
- Walter Kasper, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity;
- Antonio Jose Gonzalez Zumarraga, archbishop of Quito, Ecuador;
- Geraldo Majella Agnello, archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil;
- Pedro Rubiano Saenz, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia;
- Audrys Juozas Backis, archbishop of Vilnius, Lithuania;
- Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago, Chile;
- Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras;
- Bernard Agre, archbishop of Abidjan, Ivory Coast;
- Louis-Marie Bille, archbishop of Lyon, France;
- Ignacio Antonio Velasco Garcia, archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela;
- Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, archbishop of Lima, Peru;
- Francisco Alvarez Martinez, archbishop of Toledo, Spain;
- Claudio Hummes, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil;
- Varkey Vithayathil, archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India;
- Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina;
- Jose da Cruz Policarpo, patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal;
- Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, Italy;
- Stephanos II Ghattas, Copt patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt;
- Jean Honore, former archbishop of Tours, France;
- Roberto Tucci, president of Radio Vatican's managing committee; and
- Leo Scheffczyk of the Munich and Freising archdiocese -- VATICAN (AFP)
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