Archbishop of Birmingham joins heavyweight team of prelates including Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Ouellet and Cardinal Levada

The new Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation has its first members, including Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham.

The council, formally established in October, is charged with renewing and strengthening the faith in traditionally Christian countries where religious belief and practice are threatened by secularism and indifference.

Pope Benedict XVI today named 19 cardinals and bishops to be members of the council.

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In addition to Archbishop Longley, the members included: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York; Cardinal George Pell of Sydney; Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; and US Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Pope also named Belgian Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Mechelen-Brussels to the new council. The archbishop created controversy in Belgium just before Christmas when he told a parliamentary commission that the Church should not automatically be expected to compensate victims of clerical sex abuse.

Italian Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Croatian Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, were also named. The Vatican announced in October that Pope Benedict had chosen new evangelisation as the theme for the next world Synod of Bishops, which is expected to meet in 2012.

The Vatican also released the names of new members and consultants for the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. The new members included Marylee Meehan, the US-based president of the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants. The new consultants included John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

The Vatican also announced that Pope Benedict had named Mgr Segundo Tejado Munoz, a priest of the Diocese of Rome, to be under-secretary of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and he chose Miguel Nicolelis, a professor of neurobiology, biomedical engineering and psychological and brain sciences at Duke University in North Carolina, to be a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The pope named Italian Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, an official in the Vatican Secretariat of State, to be the Vatican’s permanent observer at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Program, which have their headquarters in Rome.

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