UK & World News

  • 22 February 2014, 23:36

Archbishop Of Westminster Appointed A Cardinal

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Vincent Nichols, has become one of 19 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis.

The 11th Archbishop of Westminster was awarded the Catholic clergy's second-highest rank at a grandiose ceremony at St Peter's Basilica.

He was among the first round of cardinals appointed by Pope Francis, since he took over from retiredPope Benedict XVI last year.

The "new princes of the Church" were presented with gold rings and scarlet birettas, symbolising their willingness to gives their lives for the church.

The cardinals will now be granted the right to attend the Vatican's secret conclave when the time comes to elect a new pope.

Pope Francis' first appointments reflect a desire to raise the prominence of the developing world, a characteristic which has defined his tenure so far.

Around half of the 19 cardinals are non-Europeans. Five cardinals are from South America, like the Pope himself, two are African and two Asian.

Dressed in a cream mantle embroidered with gold, the 77-year-old pontiff called on the new cardinals to be "peacemakers, building peace by our hopes and our prayers."

He urged them to show "compassion, especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world."

Aged 68, Cardinal Nichols is one of the youngest in the group to receive the honour.

Speaking last month he said he was "deeply moved" to have been named among the new appointments.

Cardinal Nichols has often been likened to the Pope himself for his commitment to defending the oppressed.

Earlier this month he waded into British politics by condemning continuing welfare cuts.

He said that people being forced to turn to food banks in an affluent country in the 21st century was a "disgrace," adding that the Government had destroyed even the most "basic safety net" for those on the breadline.

A Papal Mass with the new cardinals will take place on Sunday.

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