The following comes from a November 18 New York Times article by Laurie Goldstein, Adam Pearce and Sergio Pecanha:

Francis is trying to build a Roman Catholic Church that emphasizes inclusion and mercy, and focuses on serving poor and marginalized people. Can the 79-year-old pontiff appoint enough like-minded cardinals to ensure that his vision of the church will endure after he dies?

The College of Cardinals is responsible for electing a new pope. Pope Francis’ third set of cardinals will receive their “red hats” at a ceremony on Saturday.

With the new additions, 44 of the 121 cardinals eligible to vote will have been named by Francis. But nearly two-thirds of the current cardinals were appointed by Francis’ predecessors, Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II, who were more theologically conservative and whose priorities were different from Francis’. The cardinals, however, do not all share the views of the pope who appointed them.

Of the 121 cardinals eligible to vote, 32 will turn 80 in the next five years, including 25 who were appointed by Benedict XVI and John Paul II. This gives Francis or his successor the opportunity to make new appointments.

Pope Francis, the first pope from Latin America, has expanded the effort of recent popes to diversify the College of Cardinals to reflect the church’s global reach. Francis has added cardinals from Asia, Africa and Latin America – some from countries that had not previously had a cardinal: Bangladesh, the Central African Republic, Lesotho, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.

The church nearly doubled the number of voting cardinals in the last century. But until recently, the College of Cardinals was dominated by Europeans, especially Italians, even as growth in the church shifted to the Southern Hemisphere.

In the early 1900s, about two-thirds of all Roman Catholics were in Europe. Now, more than half are in Latin America and Africa. But even with the new appointments, less than one third of the voting cardinals are from these two regions.