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Pope picks 15 new cardinals

The Pope has named 15 new cardinals, selecting them from 14 nations, including far-flung corners such as Tonga, New Zealand, Cape Verde and Burma, to reflect the diversity of the church and its growth in places like Asia and Africa.

Other cardinals hail from Ethiopia, Thailand and Vietnam, and another is from Sicily, where the Church in recent decades has been galvanising public rejection of the Mafia.

Referring to the Vatican, Francis told the faithful in St Peter's Square that the church leaders come "from every continent" and "show the indelible tie with the church of Rome to churches in the world".

As well as the 15 new cardinals who are under 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pope, Francis bestowed the honour on five churchmen older than that. He said they distinguished themselves for their work in the Vatican bureaucracy, in diplomatic service in giving witness to their love of Christ and God's people. Those included men from Peru and Mozambique.

Speaking from a Vatican window to a crowd in St Peter's Square, Francis made another surprise announcement. He said that on February 12-13, he will lead a meeting of all cardinals to "reflect on the orientations and proposals for the reform of the Roman Curia", the Vatican's administrative bureaucracy.

Francis is using his papacy, which began in March 2013, to root out corruption, inefficiency and other problems in the curia.

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