History was created in the Caribbean as Pope Francis will elevate Monsignor Kelvin Edward Felix, archbishop emeritus of Castries, St. Lucia, to a cardinal.
He also named Chibly Langlois, Bishop of Les Cayes, Haiti as new cardinals recently.
They were among 19 men chosen from Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere, including the developing nations of Haiti and Burkina Faso, in line with his belief that the church must pay more attention to the poor.
Monsignor Chibly Langlois, 55, is the youngest new cardinal chosen. Francis made the announcement as he spoke from his studio window to a crowd in St Peter’s Square.
Sixteen of the appointees are younger than 80, meaning they are currently eligible to elect the next pope, which is a cardinal’s most important task. The ceremony to formally install them as cardinals will be held Feb. 22 at the Vatican.
Since his election in March as the first pontiff from Latin America, the Pope has broken tradition after tradition in terms of protocol and style at the Vatican. But recently Francis stuck to the church’s rule of having no more than 120 cardinals eligible to elect the next pontiff.
The College of Cardinals is currently 13 shy of that 120-mark among eligible-to-vote members. In addition, three cardinals will turn 80 by May. That means Francis chose the exact number of new cardinals needed to bring the voting ranks up to 120 during the next few months.
Some appointments were expected, including that of his new secretary of state, the Italian Archbishop Pietro Parolin, and the German head of the Vatican’s watchdog office for doctrinal orthodoxy, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller. Two others named recently also come from the curia, as the Holy See’s Rome-based bureaucracy is known.