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Brazilian cardinal slams Euro-centric Catholic Church

19 February 2012, 00:03 CET
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(VATICAN CITY) - Joao Braz de Aviz, the sole Latin American among 22 newly created Catholic cardinals, on Saturday criticised the Church for being too Euro-centric.

"Europe should go back to showing a more fraternal attitude towards other continents and stop looking down on the others," Braz de Aviz said in an interview with the Vatican-watching news agency I.Media.

"How much longer are we going to be led by Europe and the United States?" demanded Braz de Aviz, elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in a solemn ceremony at Saint Peter's Basilica on Saturday.

"You can no longer think that Latin America, Asia and Africa haven't changed, that they are still colonies or the Third World," he said.

The more universal the College of Cardinals, "the better it will represent the Church. We've already done a lot in this direction, but we must continue," added Braz de Aviz, 64.

The Latin American region has the world's largest concentration of Catholics.

Some critics point to the preponderance of Europeans, especially Italians, in the Church hierarchy, notably the College of Cardinals, as evidence of the pope's Western bias.

Critics say the appointments show a strong bias towards Europe, as out of the 125 cardinals under age 80 -- "elector cardinals" eligible to elect the pope in a secret conclave -- 67 are from Europe.

A mere 22 are from South America, 15 from North America, 11 from Africa and 10 from Asia and the Pacific.

Moreover, the induction of seven Italians in Benedict's fourth consistory brings to 30 the number of Italian elector cardinals -- almost a quarter of the total, far outweighing any other country.

The new cardinals include nine other Europeans as well as two Americans, one Canadian, a Brazilian, an Indian and a Hong Kong Chinese.

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