An article has noted that talk of a consistory to take place at the end of this year has faded. It does however mention an interesting problem.
The article notes that next year’s consistory will take place in “February or June”, though a date at the start of December is not to be ruled out either. It notes that of the 24 cardinals who have lost voting rights since the last consistory only two have been Italians, Sergio Cardinal Sebastiani and Renato Raffaele Cardinal Martino. If Benedict were to include all of those in the Roman Curia who are expected to eventually be created cardinals there are eight, plus one diocesan bishop (Florence). This of course excludes the vacant patriarchate of Venice that is expected to be filled in the next few months.
Thus, the total number of Italians waiting to be elevated to the College of Cardinals is up to nine. The fact is that not all of these will be chosen at once but it is still a signifcant number of a class that is expected to be 24 electors. The article mentions how “The last consistory rigidly and categorically applied the rule of not including on the list residing archbishops whose predecessor emeritus is under eighty” but continues “even if this cardinal had been recalled to the Roman Curia”. It notes that “If the rule were to be re-applied, it would exclude Florence and Turin again, as well as Toledo”. The archbishop of Turin should not be expected to be included in the next consistory but Benedict may elevate him anyway as Cardinal Poletto turns 80 in 2013.
It adds that “Among the paradoxes of such a strict application of the rule, is the case of Toledo: the current archbishop, Braulio Rodríguez Plaza, at 67 ½ is older than his predecessor, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera”. There should not however be too much read into this. Benedict will almost certainly elevate both Toledo and Florence, next year.
By December 2012, Italy will have 22 electors out of a possible total electorate of 120 in a conclave. The list of Italians waiting for the call to the College includes, Bertello, Versaldi, Filoni, as well as a number of others. The number of Italian electors is obviously the direct result of the re-Italianisation of the Curia which is a result of Cardinal Bertone picking mainly Italians for most of the top jobs.
Of those who are in the 12 jobs that eventually lead the holders to becoming cardinals, such as the secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, the secretray of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the nuncio to the United States, seven are held by Italians.
If the Church wants fewer Italians in the next conclave, and there is no real evidence they don’t, they had better take a longer view and appoint more than the usual cursory Africans and Latin Americans. Otherwise people should not be so surprised at the number of Italian cardinals.