BANGUI OCTOBER 11, 2016 (CISA) – Pope Francis has announced 17 new cardinals, including Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of the Catholic Archdiocese of Bangui.
The announcement on Sunday October 9, at the end of the Pope’s angelus address means that countries like The Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Lesotho will have a cardinal for the first time.
Other new cardinals come from; Italy, Spain, the United States, Brazil, Albania, Venezuela, Belgium, Mauritius, and Mexico.
“Their coming from 11 nations expresses the universality of the church that proclaims and witnesses the good news of God’s mercy in every corner of the earth,” said Pope Francis.
Of the 17 new cardinals, 13 are below the 80-years-old threshold and are thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.
The four new cardinals who are over 80 years of age have been honored for their “clear Christian witness.”
The four includes Fr Ernest Simoni, 88, an Albanian priest who spent many years in jail and forced labour during the communist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha.
The consistory to elevate the prelates will take place on November 19, the eve of the closing of the Year of Mercy.
On November 20, they will join the Pope and other cardinals in celebrating the feast of Christ the King and closing the Year of Mercy.
Archbishop Nzapalainga along with a Protestant leader and a local Imam, have been working together to build peace since violence broke out in the country.
The Archbishop hosted Pope Francis during a visit to the country in November 2015. At 49 years, he will be the youngest member of the College of Cardinals.