By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A veteran Vatican watcher based in our area says people shouldn’t be surprised by the 20 men Pope Francis picked over the weekend to be elevated next month to the position of cardinal in the catholic church.

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Some were shocked that the church leaders in the United States were bypassed by the pope. But Philadelphia-based journalist Rocco Palmo, who covers the papacy and church affairs, says Pope Francis wants the College of Cardinals to look more like the universal church – a place where wealth or the size of a diocese is immaterial:

“Francis is using this list to basically to cement his legacy in choosing people who look at the church the way he does and who act the way he does, who will choose his successor and determine the long-term future of the church.”

As to why Philadelphia’s archbishop didn’t get the nod this time for a red hat…

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“By Rome standards, Philadelphia already still has a vote – at least for another couple of months in a hypothetical conclave – because Cardinal Rigali is still an active papal elector until he turns 80 this coming April,” Palmo says.

Palmo says Archbishop Charles Chaput is of the same mind as the pope on the subject:

“Chaput himself has been conspicuously on record saying the same thing as the pope that he does not believe in the practice of somebody becoming a cardinal just because they’re the bishop of someplace.”

Palmo says Francis appointed men from areas that never had a cardinal, including places in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

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