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Two popes on hand in historic 1st cardinal ceremony

VATICAN CITY (AP) - In an unprecedented blending of papacies past, present and future, retired Pope Benedict XVI joined Pope Francis at a ceremony Saturday to formally install new cardinals who will one day elect their successor.

It was the first time Benedict and Francis have appeared together at a public liturgical ceremony since Benedict retired a year ago, becoming the first pope to step down in more than 600 years. It may signal that after a year of staying "hidden from the world," Benedict may occasionally be reintegrated into the public life of the church.

Benedict entered St. Peter's Basilica discreetly from a side entrance surrounded by a small entourage and was greeted with applause and tears from the stunned people in the pews. He smiled, waved and seemed genuinely happy to be there, taking his seat in the front row, off to the side, alongside the red-draped cardinals.

"We are grateful for your presence here among us," newly minted Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, told Benedict in his introductory remarks.

Francis warmly greeted his predecessor at the start and end of the service, clasping him by his shoulders and embracing him. Benedict removed his white skullcap in a show of respect as Francis approached.

But in a sign that Benedict still commands the honor and respect owed a pope, each of the 19 new cardinals - after receiving his red hat from Francis at the altar - went directly to Benedict's seat to greet him before then exchanging a sign of peace with the other cardinals.

They had, however, already pledged their fidelity to Francis in an oath of obedience.

Saturday's surprise event was the latest in the evolving reality for the church of having two popes living side-by-side in the Vatican. Over the summer, Francis and Benedict appeared together in the Vatican gardens for a ceremony to unveil a statue. But Saturday's event was something else entirely, a liturgical service inside St. Peter's Basilica marking one of the most important things a pope can do: create new cardinals.

Benedict had no formal role whatsoever in the ceremony, but his presence could signal a new phase in his cloistered retirement that began with his Feb. 28, 2013, resignation. Chances are increasing that Benedict might also appear at the April 27 canonization of his predecessor, John Paul II, and Pope John XXIII.

The Rev. Robert Wister, a professor of church history at Seton Hall University, stressed that while it was a unique moment, Benedict was certainly present for the ceremony at Francis' invitation and that Francis was the only actual pope in the basilica elevating cardinals.

He said he didn't think Benedict would gradually return to any major ceremonial role in the church, both because his 86 years make it increasingly difficult for him to get through long services and because doing so would be "highly problematic, given that some cardinals and Curialists (Vatican bureaucrats) yearn for a return to the 'good old days.'"

Nevertheless, Wister said he thought it was likely Benedict would attend the April canonizations, when two living popes would be honoring two dead ones.

Benedict's decision to appear at the consistory could also be seen as a blessing of sorts for the 19 men Francis had chosen to join the College of Cardinals, the elite group of churchmen whose primary job is to elect a pope.

Francis' choices largely reflected his view that the church must minister to the peripheries and be a place of welcome and mercy, not a closed institution of rules. In addition to a few Vatican bureaucrats, he named like-minded cardinals from some of the poorest places on Earth, Haiti, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast among them.

In his remarks, Francis told the new cardinals that the church needs their courage, prayer and compassion "especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world."

"The church needs us also to be peacemakers, building peace by our works, our hopes and our prayers," he said.

Two of the new cardinals hail from Africa, two from Asia and six from Francis' native Latin America, which is home to nearly half the world's Catholics but is grossly underrepresented in the church's hierarchy.

There's Cardinal Chibly Langlois, who isn't even an archbishop but rather the 55-year-old bishop of Les Cayes and now Haiti's first-ever cardinal.

The archbishop of Managua, Nicaragua, Leopoldo Jose Brenes Solorzano, is an old friend who worked alongside the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in preparing the seminal document of the pope's vision of a missionary church - the so-called Aparecida Document produced by the 2007 summit of Latin American bishops.

Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, South Korea, has serious Catholic chops: His ancestors were among the lay people who brought Christianity to the Korean peninsula in the 19th century, and his great-great grandfather and his wife were executed as part of the Joseon Dynasty's persecution of Christians, the Asian Catholic news agency UCANews reported. Of the six children in his immediate family, three became priests.

Though he hails from Burkina Faso, Cardinal Philippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo sounded an awful lot like the Argentine Francis in his 2013 Christmas homily. He denounced the "inequality, injustice, poverty and misery" of today's society where employers exploit their workers and the powerful few have most of the money while the poor masses suffer.

One cardinal sat out the ceremony even as he made history by living to see it: Cardinal Loris Francesco Capovilla, aged 98, became the oldest member of the College of Cardinals, but due to his age couldn't make the trip from northern Italy. His was a sentimental choice for Francis: For over a decade, Capovilla was the private secretary to Pope John XXIII, whom Francis will make a saint alongside Pope John Paul II in a sign of his admiration for the pope who convened the Second Vatican Council.

Capovilla, and the emeritus archbishops of Pamplona, Spain and Castries, St. Lucia are all over age 80 and thus ineligible to vote in a conclave to elect Francis' successor.

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valdemarjr February 23 2014 at 11:45 AM

this is SO wrong on SO many levels - it ISN'T even funny. When he first stepped down, I put a post up that said "POPE = QUITTER" - and I still feel that way today. He said he was "stepping down" to take to time "read and fish" - so he should just GO DO THAT. All he is doing is creating confusion within the church and the young people that they are trying to keep following them. He should go to his chateau and just STAY THERE. He accepted a position of POPE.... which is to be held for LIFE - and he QUIT. Showing up at Sunday mass with the rest of the catholics is one thing, BUT For him to now start appearing at church functions - let alone the ceremony for the appointment of cardinals is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

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samtronixi February 23 2014 at 11:39 AM

I salute Pope francis for making changes

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gigi1105 February 23 2014 at 11:35 AM

i am so thrilled that pope john paul 2nd will be canonized!!!! i loved him and he was such a wonderful representative of our church!!!! i think francis will prove to be a great pope, also...

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Pete February 23 2014 at 11:26 AM

why do cardinals wear red and the yamica or the red hat?
do people know the vatican is its own city?
do people know they enforce the law of the water MAL
do people know our cardinals and bishops nothing more than politicians
do people know the feds enforce law for the vatican city
the vatican in the 1500's had the largest naval base since they only risen in power where is thier navy now?
i can go on and on but most important is they gave us the 10 commandments which good people like us dont do cause will interfere with thier corporate business

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maria717 February 23 2014 at 10:48 AM

Nice the most Holy were together, Pope Francis was sent to us from God we must honor him too
He is making lots of changes!

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1 reply to maria717's comment
emmamndz February 23 2014 at 12:07 PM

God bless both Popes who are the light of the world. I love them and pray for my adored Catholic Chuch. What would be the world withouth the Catholic Church. The beautiful ceremonies, the Eucarist and the veneration of our Blessed Mother Virgin May - the mother of all of us.

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ghelm92160 February 23 2014 at 10:24 AM

I once drove a fishing boat named "TWO FOOLS"!

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2 replies to ghelm92160's comment
jgesselberty February 23 2014 at 10:34 AM

If you were one of the ones in the boat, your comment makes perfect sense.

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gigi1105 February 23 2014 at 11:36 AM

you poor, ignorant pig

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lyleva February 23 2014 at 10:19 AM

Good article. Good to see Francis making changes.

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rtgarton February 23 2014 at 9:47 AM

Oh please. Organized religion at its finest. Break open the Vatican vaults and put the money where it belongs and that's with the people.

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runswthscisors40 February 23 2014 at 9:38 AM

Afterwards, they relaxed and had a frozen treat, made with cherry juice, then frozen with a stick in it......the Popesickle..................

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donnovak February 23 2014 at 9:16 AM

A majority of the comments were about Age,Money and race. You forget this Pope started out as\\JESUIT. The jesuits happen to be educators. Most of tjhe responses sounded foolish and stupid.. Learn what he did for the poor in his country. I would like to see these "educated smart people do the same...

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