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He said that his selection reflects the Catholic Church’s universal nature

The members of the international Council of Cardinals began their February meeting expressing their ‘full support’ of the Pontiff

A ‘significant number’ of bishops’ conferences reportedly also expressed misgivings

Holy Father creates 17 new cardinals from 11 nations

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles was elected vice president

The full text of the four cardinals’ letter, preceded and followed by their explanatory notes, is below:

I understand the cardinals’ anxieties – but Rome needs an alternative to the overpriced cafés

The list of cardinals reads like a Prime Minister’s resignation honours list

A daily guide to what’s happening in the Catholic Church

Thirteen cardinals – including three Americans – are eligible to vote in a conclave