Pope Francis Names Bishop Okpaleke, 20 Others As Cardinals

Pope Francis has named Nigeria’s Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke as a cardinal, along with 20 others drawn mostly outside of Europe.

Okpaleke, the fiercely rejected bishop of Ahiara in Imo, is at present bishop of Ekwulobia in Anambra state.

Cardinals have dominated Catholic hierarchy for most of the church’s history and they are the group of people who might someday elect the next pontiff.

Sixteen of those who will receive the prestigious red cardinal’s hat from Francis in a consistory ceremony at the Vatican on Aug. 27 are younger than 80.

Okpaleke was 59 on 1 March.

He and others would be eligible to vote for Pope Francis successor if a conclave — in which pontiffs are secretly elected — were to be held.

Francis read out the names of his choices after delivering traditional Sunday remarks from an open window of the Apostolic Palace to the public in St. Peter’s Square.

Among those tapped by the pontiff to receive the prestigious red hat will be two prelates from India and one each from Mongolia, Ghana, Nigeria, Singapore, East Timor, Paraguay, and Brazil, in keeping with Francis’ determination to have church leaders reflect the global face of the Catholic church.

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