Eighteen of the new cardinals are under the age of 80, meaning they are eligible to enter a secret conclave to elect the next pope.
Perhaps most notable amongst the appointments is that of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who some say is a strong future candidate for the first American pope, The Daily Telegraph in Britain reported.
Other new cardinals hail from Hong Kong, Italy, India, the Czech Republic and Malta, among others.
The announcement comes just two months before the pope's 85th birthday, and while the Vatican says he is in good health, signs of his age are apparent, such as his recent need to use a mobile platform to reach the altar at St. Peter's.
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