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Pope set to elevate 30 cardinals

Pope John Paul II will formally elevate 30 new cardinals, including Catholic Archbishop of Sydney George Pell, at a consistory of the so-called "princes of the Church" at the Vatican tonight Australian time.

Archbishop Pell has arrived in Rome after leaving Australia on Saturday.

Today's will be Pope John Paul II's ninth consistory, but the fact that it coincided with his 25th anniversary celebrations has given it a "pre-conclave" atmosphere, particularly as some Vatican watchers believe it may well be his last.

The 30 clerics will kneel before the Pope in St Peter's Square and receive the square red hat which denotes their high office in the Roman Catholic Church.

Twenty-six of them will join the elite group of cardinal-electors who will meet in conclave to elect the next Pope after the death of John Paul II.

The consistory will bring the number electors to 135, though it will have dropped to 131 by the end of the year, four more cardinals including Sydney's Cardinal Edward Clancy reaching the age of 80, precluding them from further involvement with electing a Pope.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Medina speculated on Thursday that the Pope would consider stepping down - something he has repeatedly said he would never do - if his speech difficulty worsened to the point where he was unable to celebrate mass.

But Italian Cardinal Mario Francesco Pompedda, who as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature is the Vatican's highest legal authority, said what counted was the Pope's ability to express his thoughts, not necessarily by speaking.

John Paul II though appearing increasingly stricken by Parkinson's disease, has highlighted his grim determination to continue his mission.

"Continue to pray for me, so that I can faithfully fulfill my service to the Church for as long as the Lord wishes," he asked the congregation at his 25th anniversary mass on Thursday.


Pope prepares to install new cardinals (Associated Press)
Cardinals Suit Up in Red for Big Day (AP)
Cardinal Elect Denies Calling for Church Debate (Scotsman)
New cardinal will be fresh voice in the church world (Daily Record)
Pope to elevate 30 cardinals (AAP/Courier-Mail)
New Cardinals Impact Next Pope Decision (Associated Press)
Scots Catholics head for Rome (BBC)
New cardinal will be fresh voice in the church world (Daily Record)
Pilgrims Head for Rome to Witness Archbishop's Elevation (The Scotsman)
Painting the Vatican red (
Foley taking part in ceremony for new cardinals (
John Paul II Implores Cardinals to Give Their Lives to Gospel (Zenit)
Voting Cardinals (

21 Oct 2003