(GIN)—In a further step away from old traditions at the Vatican, Pope Francis named his first batch of cardinals, choosing 19 men from Asia, Africa, the Philippines and Latin America including the developing nations of Haiti and Burkina Faso. The selection affirms his belief that the church must pay more attention to the poor.
His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had chosen cardinals mostly from Western countries.
Sixteen of the appointees are younger than 80, and are eligible to elect the next pope. They also serve as advisors to the pontiff as he re-shapes the institution.
With his selections, the pope rebalances the Euro-centered representation of countries by cardinals. The Philippines, for example, had just one cardinal representing about 75 million Catholics while the U.S., with roughly the same number of Catholics, had 11. Latin American, with 400 million Catholics and growing, had just 15 voting age cardinals, while Europe, where church attendance is falling sharply, had 57.
Among the newly appointed cardinals is Chibly Langlois, the Bishop of Les Cayes and the first Haitian Cardinal in history. Cardinal Langlois held several leadership positions in La Vallee, Jacmel, taught pastoral theology, and continues to serve the diocese of Fort Liberte.
Newly appointed Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa of the Ivory Coast was ordained in 1971 and appointed bishop of Gagnoa by John Paul II in 2001. He places great importance on ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Mgr. Kutwa is also a music composer.
Finally from Burkina Faso, the Archbishop of Ouagadougou Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo, was ordained in 1973 and appointed bishop in 1996 of Ouahigouya, a diocese with both a men’s and women’s contemplative monastery.
In 2010, Ouédraogo was called by Benedict XVI to lead the Archdiocese of Ouagadougou, where he stood out for the work he did in one of Africa’s poorest countries.