Pope Francis has again taken a step completely out of line with Vatican tradition with his new batch of cardinal appointments.

The Pope’s choices of clergymen whom he has elevated to the rank of cardinal are surprising, not just to the Vatican, but to the newly appointed cardinals as well.

When the new list was announced, some of the newly appointed cardinals were not even aware what role they had been chosen for. While some watched the news, shocked at their name being called out, others were simply unaware until they received congratulatory messages and calls. Many of these cardinals come from dioceses that have been of less significance and were traditionally never considered as a diocese to choose a cardinal from.

One of the main reasons these nominations have shocked the Vatican is that most of the elected clergymen are not European. The Pope now has the Church moving to a more globalized structure, rather than sticking to a leadership that has its power concentrated in Europe, especially Italy. Things started changing when the first Polish Pope, St. John Paul II, sat on the papal seat, followed by the fifth German Pope, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Pope Francis, who took over after the resignation of Pope Benedict, (which in is itself a rare occurrence) is the first non-European pope in a very long time.

Pope Francis has now taken the ultimate step in globalizing the power in the Vatican by appointing cardinals from countries such as Syria, Bangladesh, Mauritius, and Papua New Guinea. One of the 13 newly appointed cardinals is an American Bishop, Joseph Tobin, who was exiled to Indianapolis from a senior position in the Vatican by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI over some disagreements.

The College of Cardinals is an influential body in the Vatican which votes for the next pope from one among them after the ruling pope passes away. Of the thirteen new Cardinals, three each have been chosen from Europe, North America and Latin-Caribbean America. Two each have been chosen from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific. One of them is the Vatican Nuncio to Syria, the first time that a papal ambassador has been elevated to this position.

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