Pope Benedict XVI announces 24 new cardinals

Pope Benedict XVI announces 24 new cardinals Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI said on Wednesday that he will create 24 new cardinals next month in a key announcement for the Catholic Church as 20 of them will have the power to elect his eventual successor.

Benedict told some 22,000 faithful assembled for his general audience in St Peter's Square that the list "reflects the universality of the church."

The list is dominated by European clergy but there will also be cardinals from Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt and Zambia.

The new cardinals will be formally appointed at a conference of cardinals known as a consistory to be held in Vatican City on November 20-21.

Four of the new cardinals are currently more than 80 years old and therefore do not have the power to elect a new pope at the next conclave.

Following the death of a pope, cardinals are called upon to find a successor. The candidate chosen is usually one of the cardinals.

Under a tradition instituted by Pope Paul VI (1963-1978), the number of "elector cardinals" is set at a minimum of 120.

The number of "elector cardinals" after the consistory will be 121.

Some of the more powerful cardinals in the church can also help determine whether the church will develop in a conservative or reformist direction.

Benedict has already held two consistories since the start of his pontificate in 2005 during which 38 new cardinals were created.