POPE Benedict XVI has brought 22 new churchmen into the elite club of cardinals who will elect his successor.

Benedict, 84, yesterday presided over a ceremony in St Peter's in the Vatican to create the 22 cardinals, who include the archbishops of New York, Prague and Hong Kong as well as the heads of Vatican offices.

The ceremony was clouded by leaks of internal documents alleging financial mismanagement in Vatican affairs, and reports of political jockeying among church officials sensing an increasingly weak pontiff and preparing for a conclave.