Pope creates 24 new cardinals, including D.C.’s Wuerl

Newly appointed U.S. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, left, is congratulated by other cardinals after being elevated by Pope Benedict XVI during a consistory inside St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010. Benedict XVI formally created 24 new cardinals on Saturday amid cheers in St. Peter's Basilica, bringing a mostly Italian group into the elite club that will eventually elect his successor. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)Newly appointed U.S. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, left, is congratulated by other cardinals after being elevated by Pope Benedict XVI during a consistory inside St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010. Benedict XVI formally created 24 new cardinals on Saturday amid cheers in St. Peter’s Basilica, bringing a mostly Italian group into the elite club that will eventually elect his successor. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

A choir sang and a brass ensemble played as the men then greeted each of the other cardinals in the college, exchanging a few words of welcome.

There was Cardinal Kurt Koch of Switzerland, the new head of the Vatican office for relations with other Christians, greeting his predecessor, retired Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany.

There was the new Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Italian head of the Vatican’s culture office, greeting the retired Vatican No. 2 Cardinal Angelo Sodano. And so on.

One of the loudest rounds of applause was for Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., who was joined in Rome by a delegation of some 400 well-wishers from the United States.

The cardinal’s main task is to offer the pontiff advice and eventually elect his successor.

This is the third time Benedict has held a consistory to create new cardinals. With Saturday’s additions, he will have hand-picked 40 percent of the college, infusing it with conservative, tradition-minded prelates like himself and almost ensuring that a future pope will carry on the path he has set out for the church.

During a day of reflection on Friday, cardinals new and old discussed some of the most pressing issues of concern to the church, including the sex abuse scandal.

Cardinal William Levada, who heads the Vatican office responsible for dealing with abuse cases, told the cardinals his office was planning to issue a set of guidelines to bishops around the world on responding to priests who rape and molest children.

The Vatican said Levada spoke of the need for prevention programs, better screening of priests and the need to obey civil reporting requirements.

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