Previous thoughts that a consistory to create new cardinals would be called in June or December of this year by either Pope Benedict or Pope Francis will now not occur.
Rocco writes that “Lombardi detailed a full plate of events surrounding the first gathering of the Pope’s “Senate” since the Conclave. Bookended by the third meeting of Francis’ “Gang of Eight” and another summit of the (newly-)all-important Synod Council, Francis will maintain the tradition begun by his predecessor and hold a consultation day with the entire College on the eve of the Consistory, its focus reportedly centered on the reform of the Curia. Far from the usual means of announcement – a declaration by the Pope himself either at the Wednesday Audience or Sunday Angelus a month before the Consistory date – the date was given this far in advance to allow the nearly 200 red-hats to work the week into their schedules. Though the speculation of prior Consistory dates had largely panned out, far-flung cardinals have long complained that the lack of a formal confirmation until weeks before had the effect of holding their calendars hostage”.
Rocco notes that there will be 14 electoral slots available by February. However, he is right to point out that “the Pope is perfectly free to dispense from the limit”. Whether this is a hint that Pope Francis will exceed the limit of 14 to return the Electoral College to the limit imposed by Paul VI or not.
Interestingly, Rocco goes on to mention “As for the composition of the new intake, it’s fair to say that – with a “Pope of Surprises” who’s shown little reluctance about setting his own course – all bets are off. Still, it would be little shock if the first non-European Pope in a millennium started into an effort to significantly shift the geographic makeup of the College, which has habitually seen his home-continent (which contains half the world’s Catholics) and much of the global church’s emerging standard-bearers significantly underrepresented. For example, despite boasting the bulk of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, Latin Americans only comprised 12 percent of the electors at the March Conclave, its 15 voting cardinals just one more than the North American bloc from a church less than one fifth of its southern neighbour’s size”.
He goes on to add “several ops have indicated that one means Francis intends to use to achieve a geographic reboot is a significant curtailing of the red hats given to Vatican officials, along with a gradual drop of the “cardinalatial sees” in Europe. Taken together, the Curial and Continent blocs accounted for 67 of the 111 electors in March, or precisely three-fifths of the Conclave, just 11 shy of the requisite two-thirds margin needed to produce a Pope. Among the few bankable names on the coming biglietto – at least, at this point – are but three Curial officials: the new Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the CDF chief Gerhard Ludwig Müller, and Francis’ hand-picked head of the newly-amplified Synod, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri”.
What this means in pratice is obviously unclear. It would be safe to say that all Congregational prefects would get the red, but it is uncertain as to whether the presidents of the Pontifical Councils will get it in the future. As for the reduction of red in Europe it will be interesting, to say the least, how far this will extend to Italy which has the most electors of any country. This is both through curial heads and residential bishops. Currently, Palermo, Naples, Turin, Florence, Rome (as vicar general of Rome), Genoa, Milan and Venice all traditionally get cardinals. At the moment only Turin and Venice are without the red. Although Cardinal Romeo of Palermo is 75 and will need to be replaced it is uncertain as to whether his successor will get the red. There are naturally some questions as to what Francis will do to the rest of Europe. Germany, Spain, Poland and France also have a number of cardinal-archbishops.
There are a slew of candidates, as usual. These include Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P., archivist & librarian of the Holy Roman Church, but notably there are a number of candidates from Latin America, Sergio da Rocha of Brasília, Oscar Vian Morales SDB of Guatemala, Ricardo Ezzati Andrello SDB, of Santiago de Chile, Orani João Tempesta, O. Cist., of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro and Murilo Ramos Krieger, S.C.J, of São Salvador da Bahia.
Rocco goes on to note “On the residential front, meanwhile, Bergoglio’s successor as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, especially after his election dropped Argentina’s number of resident voters to zero. Yet even more notably, as part of an expected increase of the College’s Eastern presence, both protocol and personal ties would see a seat going to the head of the largest Oriental body in communion with Rome – the major-archbishop of the 6 million-member Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who at 43 would become the youngest cardinal elevated in the last century”.
He ends “for the sake of i Gammarelli and the arrangement of the pilgrimages – don’t be surprised one bit to see the designates’ names emerge well before January”.