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Pope appoints 21 new cardinals to fill highest ranks of Church

The group of 21 new cardinals includes diplomats, advisors and administrators
— Vatican City (AFP)

Pope Francis on Saturday elevated 21 clergymen from the four corners of the world to the rank of cardinal, saying diversity was indispensable to the future of the Catholic Church.

Under sunny skies and with a crowd that filled half of Vatican City's grandiose, colonnaded St Peter's Square, the 86-year-old pope welcomed the new, so-called "Princes of the Church".

"The College of Cardinals is called to resemble a symphony orchestra, representing the harmony... of the Church," said Francis, seated under a canopy before the gathered cardinals on the steps of St Peter's Basilica.

"Diversity is necessary; it is indispensable. However, each sound must contribute to the common design," said the Argentine Jesuit.

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