In a statement from the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI gave the names of 22 bishops who will serve as Cardinals of the Catholic Church. According to the January 6 statement, the pontiff declared "It is with great joy that I announce my intention to hold a concistory on 18 February, in which I will appoint twenty-two new members of the College of Cardinals". Speaking to thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square at Rome to pray the Angelus, Benedict XVI announced the fourth consistory of his pontificate will be held this year.
Cardinals are the electors of popes, and therefore will hold an election of the next leader of the worldwide church when the current pope dies. "As is well known", the Pope explained, "cardinals have the task of helping Peter's Successor carry out his mission to confirm people in the faith and to be the source and foundation of the Church's unity and communion". The new cardinals "come from various parts of the world and perform various ministries in the service of the Holy See, in direct contact with the faithful as fathers and pastors of particular Churches".
The only two named by the Pope from North America are Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins of Toronto, Canada, and Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York City, USA.Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of New York, U.S.A. Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of New York, U.S.A. Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of New York, U.S.A.
These two join sixteen others who, being under the age of eighty, will be electors. They include:
- Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
- Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, penitentiary major.
- Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Mary Major.
- Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.
- Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.
- Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
- Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
- Archbishop Edwin Frederick O'Brien, pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
- Archbishop Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.
- Archbishop Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
- Major Archbishop George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, India.
- Archbishop Dominik Jaroslav Duka, O.P. of Prague, Czech Republic.
- Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht, Holland.
- Archbishop Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Italy.
- Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin, Germany.
- Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong, China.
Pope Benedict also announced the names of four new cardinals who, being over the age of eighty, are ineligible to vote in a future conclave - the election of a pope. "I have", the Pope said, "decided to elevate to the dignity of cardinal a venerable prelate who serves as pastor and father of a Church, and three worthy priests who have distinguished themselves for their dedication and service". They are:
- Major Archbishop Lucian Muresan of Fagaras and Alba Julia of the Romanians, Romania.
- Fr. Julien Ries, priest of the diocese of Namur and professor emeritus of religious history at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
- Fr. Prosper Grech, O.S.A., professor emeritus of several Roman universities and consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
- Fr. Karl Josef Becker, S.J., professor emeritus of the Pontifical Gregorian University and for many years consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In closing the Pope invited the faithful to pray for the new cardinals, "asking the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to intercede that they may always bear courageous and dedicated witness of their love for Christ and His Church".