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Pope creates two dozen new cardinals

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The pope is putting his mark on the body that will choose his replacement
  • The group includes two Americans, plus men from Europe, Africa and Latin America
  • Benedict has now created 62 cardinals since 2005
  • A consistory will be held next month in Rome

Rome, Italy (CNN) -- Pope Benedict XVI announced Wednesday that he would create 24 new cardinals -- putting his stamp on the body that will select his replacement when he dies.

The 24 senior Catholic clergy who will be getting their red hats next month include two from the United States, plus men from Egypt, Brazil, Poland, Italy, Zambia, Ecuador, Sri Lanka and Germany, among others.

Many of the incoming cardinals are already based in the Vatican as senior officials of Roman Catholic Church bodies.

With the new influx, Benedict will have created 62 cardinals since becoming pope in 2005. It's the third time he has created new cardinals.

Known as "princes of the church," cardinals are the highest level of the hierarchy below the pope -- and when a pope dies, cardinals under the age of 80 vote on his replacement.

When the new cardinals are created in November, there will be 121 eligible to vote for the next pope, according to a CNN count. The number will then decline steadily through 2011 as cardinals turn 80.

Pope John Paul II created 142 of the cardinals in office as of February of this year, and Pope Paul VI created four, according to Vatican records.

The Americans are Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura -- the highest judicial authority in the church.

A consistory, a meeting of the Sacred College of Cardinals, will be held in Rome November 20-21. The pope made the announcement at the end of his weekly Wednesday audience.

CNN's Hada Messia and Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.

 
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