Pope Benedict appointed six new cardinals from non-European countries on Saturday, paving the way for a more global Church leadership to ultimately elect his successor.
The new cardinals were elevated to the Catholic Church's College of Cardinals in a ceremony at the Vatican's St Peter's Basilica, and hail from the Philippines, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Colombia, and the United States.
Established in 1150, the College's main responsibility is to advise the pope and nominate the next leader of the Catholic Church, CNN reported.
"I want to highlight in particular the fact that the church is the church of all peoples, so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents," the pope said during the hour-long service, the Catholic News Service reported. "Amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God."
More from GlobalPost: Pope names 6 new cardinals
The Pope's decision not to elect any Italians or Europeans is unusual, analysts said, and seems to be part of an effort to counter criticism that he has neglected the developing world's needs in recent years, Reuters reported.
During the last cardinal appointment, in February 2012, 16 of the 22 new cardinals were from Europe, Agence France Presse reported. The new appointments come after several cardinals died in recent months.
All six new cardinals range in age from 53 to 72, which means they are all eligible to become "cardinal electors": cardinals under 80 years old who are eligible to enter the conclave that chooses the next Pope.
Here, the full list of those presented at the consistory, or cardinal-appointing ceremony, from BBC News:
- US Archbishop James Harvey, 63, prefect of the papal household
- Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, 72
- Indian Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
- Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, 68
- Colombian Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, 70
- Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manila, 55