This photo taken and handout by The Vatican Media on March 12, 2020 shows Pope Francis celebrating all alone a morning mass at the Santa Marta chapel in the Vatican, as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19. (Photo by Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP) /

Two out of the 13 new cardinals set to be appointed by Pope Francis on Saturday will miss the ceremony due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Vatican said Monday.

The Apostolic Vicar of Brunei, Cornelius Sim, and the Archbishop of Capiz in the Philippines, Jose Fuerte Advincula, will not be present “due to the current health situation,” a statement said.

The Asians will still be appointed along with the other 11 nominees, but they will be given their cardinal’s red hat and ring at a later stage by a papal representative.

Francis was scheduled to lead the ceremony to create new cardinals called a consistory in St Paul’s Basilica on Nov. 28, in front of a reduced audience.

Existing cardinals and around 100 guests are invited.

The Vatican said cardinals unable to attend would be able to follow proceedings via videolink.

One of the most notable new cardinals is Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory, set to become the first black US prelate to be admitted into the ranks of the so-called Princes of the Church.

The main role cardinals have in the church is to elect popes in a conclave, a closed-door summit.

Only those aged under 80 can take part, and nine of the new appointees meet this requirement.

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