VATICAN CITY, Feb 22 (Reuters) Pope Benedict today named 15 new cardinals, the red-hatted prelates who are his closest advisers and help him run the Roman Catholic Church.
It was the first time Benedict had nominated cardinals since he became Pope last April, allowing him to start putting his stamp on the body of men that will one day elect his successor.
Benedict announced the nominations at his weekly general audience, saying the formal installation of the new princes of the Church would take place on March 24.
Among those set to become cardinals was Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland, and the long-serving secretary of Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul.
U S Archbishop William Levada, whom the Pope appointed to succeed him as head of the Vatican's powerful doctrinal department, will also become a cardinal, as will Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston, Archbishop Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul and Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong.
There are two types of cardinal, the elderly non-electors, who are all aged 80 and over, and the electors who enter a conclave to chose a new Pope after a papal death and must be aged under 80.
Church rules set a ceiling of 120 such electors. There are currently 110 electors but two men turn 80 before April.
To make sure that the Church has a full complement of cardinal electors, the Pope's list on Wednesday included 12 men aged under 80 and three over the age limit.
REUTERS SHR KN1808