VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday named 15 new cardinals from 14 nations, including far-flung corners of the world such as Tonga, New Zealand, Cape Verde and Myanmar. The selections reflect the diversity of the church and its growth in places such Asia and Africa.

Other cardinals hail from Ethiopia, Thailand and Vietnam. None came from more affluent regions such as the United States, and only three European nations received new cardinals: Portugal and Spain in addition to Italy. Cape Verde, Tonga and Myanmar gained cardinals for the first time.

Francis told faithful in St. Peter’s Square that the new batch of cardinals “shows the inseparable tie with the church of Rome to churches in the world.”

Five new cardinals come from Europe, three from Asia, three from Latin America, including Mexico, and two each come from Africa and Oceania.

With his picks, the Argentine-born Francis, the first pontiff from Latin America, made ever clearer that he is laying out a new vision of the church’s identity, including of its hierarchy. He looked beyond traditional metropolitan areas for the “princes of the church” who will help advise him as he goes forward with church reforms. Cardinals also elect his successor.

Francis has said repeatedly that the church must reach out to those on the margins.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the selections “confirm that the pope doesn’t feel tied to the traditional ‘cardinal sees,’ which reflected historic reasons in various countries.”

Francis said he will “have the joy” on Feb. 14 of presiding over the ceremony in which the new churchmen will receive their red hats.


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