Pope Francis announced that he will create 13 new cardinals over the next month, including an African American for the first time.
The Pope made the surprising announcement from his window in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, after the weekly Angelus. He specified that the cardinals would be appointed on November 28.
It will be an “unusual ceremony and perhaps even unseen, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic,” said Vatican expert Joshua McElwee, according to National Catholic Reporter.
Several coronavirus infections have already been identified in Vatican City, and such a ceremony could pose a risk to the oldest participants. Nine of the new cardinals are under the age of 80 and are thus allowed to participate in the conclave that elects a new leader for the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world.
Among the thirteen new cardinals is the forward-thinking Archbishop of Washington, Wilton Gregory, 72, who becomes the first African American cardinal. Antoine Kambanda, the Archbishop of Kigali, will also be appointed cardinal.