The United States of America on Saturday became the biggest beneficiary with three Cardinals as Pope Francis named 17 new Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church.
The cardinals from the U.S. are Blase J Cupich, Kevin Joseph Farrell and Joseph William Tobin.
The selection made from five continents of the world saw Central African Republic, Mauritius and Lesotho taking Africa’s quota.
The appointment which also saw the Vatican’s envoy to Syria, Mario Zenari, selected as a cardinal, is seen by many as Pope’s preparation toward choosing his successor.
The new cardinals include Dieudonne Nzapalainga, from Central African Republic, Carlos Osoro Sierra of Spain, Sergio da Rocha from Brazil, Patrick D’Rozario from Bangladesh and Jozef De Kesel of Belgium.
Others are Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Venezuela, Maurice Piat from Mauritius, Carlos Aguiar Retes from Mexico, John Ribat from Papua New Guinea, Anthony Soter Fernandez of Malaysia and Sebastian Koto Khoarai who is from Lesotho.
Renato Corti of Italy and Ernest Simoni of Albania were among the selected cardinals.
According to BBC, Pope Francis has now chosen close to a third of the College of Cardinals who will ultimately pick who succeeds him.
Only cardinals under the age of 80 can vote on the next Pope. Thirteen of those named cardinals on Saturday are under 80, and are now eligible to succeed him.
It is the third time in three years that Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope, has named new cardinals. He has used each opportunity to promote members from outside the College’s traditional European base.
The new cardinals come from countries including the Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Mauritius, among others.
During the ceremony, Pope Francis decried what he said was a “growing animosity” between people, and raised concern over those who “raise walls, build barriers and label people”.