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Catholics facing difficult political choices must study the issues, pray about the election and then vote according to their consciences, Pope Francis said. Flying back to Rome from Azerbaijan Oct. 2, the pope was asked by a reporter what U.S. Catholics should do in a presidential election where both candidates hold some positions contrary to church teaching. Although he was in a relaxed mood and welcomed reporters’ questions for almost an hour, Pope Francis said he would never comment on a specific electoral campaign. “The people are sovereign,” he said. “Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.” Pope Francis also was asked when he would name new members to the College of Cardinals and what criteria he would use to choose them. He said he still had not decided precisely when to announce the names or hold the consistory to create the new cardinals, but it would likely be at the end of this year or the beginning of 2017. As for the choices, Pope Francis said, the list of worthy candidates is long, “but there are only 13 places” to reach the limit of 120 cardinals under the age of 80. The selection process will aim for a geographic mix, he said. “I like it when one can see in the College of Cardinals the universality of the church, not just the European center, shall we say.”