VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI responded to criticism that the club of churchmen who will choose his successor is too Eurocentric, elevating six new cardinals from Colombia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Philippines and the United States during a formal ceremony Saturday.
Benedict welcomed the prelates, saying their presence was a sign of the "unique, universal and all-inclusive identity" of the Catholic Church.
The College of Cardinals remains heavily European: Of the 120 under age 80 and thus eligible to vote to elect a new pope, more than half — 62 — are European. Critics complain that the cardinals no longer represent the Catholic Church today, since Catholicism is growing in Asia and Africa but is in crisis in much of Europe.
Elevated to cardinal were Archbishop James Harvey, the American prefect of the papal household; Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines; Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria; Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia; the Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon, His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai; and the major Archbishop of the Trivandrum of the Siro-Malankaresi in India, His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal.