Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI named 22 new cardinals on Friday, including prelates in such key posts as New York and Hong Kong and a large group of Italians holding major Vatican positions.
Cardinals are the pope`s top advisers, the elite group of churchmen who will eventually elect Benedict`s successor. Of the 22, 18 are under the age of 80 — raising to 125 the number of cardinals eligible to vote in the next papal conclave. Cardinals over 80 are not allowed to vote on the next pope.
Other new cardinals come from Berlin, Prague, Toronto and Florence, Italy.
The Vatican officials include a Brazilian prelate who heads the office for Consecrated Life.
The pope announced the names "with great joy" following an Epiphany Mass that ended the Vatican`s main Christmas celebrations. He said they will be formally elevated at a Feb. 18 ceremony in Rome.
The list includes two Americans: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Edwin O`Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the former archbishop of Baltimore.
The pope named 16 Europeans as cardinals, including seven Italians. He also named Joao Braz de Aviz, a Brazilian who heads the Vatican office for religious life; John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong; and George Alencherry, archbishop of the Syro-Malabar church in India.