Archive for the ‘Consistory November 2012’ Category

Cardinal Chaput, Gomez or Cupich?

16/12/2014

John Allen writes about the recently announced consistory that will take place in February.

He opens the piece “The Catholic Church’s most exclusive club will have new members come February, as the Vatican announced Thursday Pope Francis will hold a consistory to create new cardinals Feb. 14-15. Almost nothing a pope does is as critical to the direction of Catholicism, in part because cardinals are the most influential leaders in the Church after the pontiff himself. In part, too, a pope shapes the future by selecting cardinals, because they will eventually elect his successor. Although dates for the consistory have been announced, we don’t yet know the names”.

This echoes the trend that Francis began last year. At the same time the fact that the consistory takes place over two days suggests a reversal of the reforms introduced by Pope Benedict who shortened the ceremony to take place over one day.  The events of the 15th however could simply be a collective Mass with the new cardinals but it is obviously too soon to tell.

Allen says this consistory will be smaller than 2014. Francis should have 10 electoral slots to fill which would bring the College of Cardinals back to its 120 limit. However there is a strong possibility that Francis could go over this with only four other cardinals losing their voting rights next year. Thus Francis could easily have a consistory that would make the electors 124 and simply wait until Cardinal Naguib, Cardinal Rigali, Cardinal de Paolis and Cardinal Abril y Castello all age out by September. Of course Cardinal Lajolo will have already turned 80 in January by the time the consistory will take place.

Naturally Francis will have a small group of those over 80, so the class of new cardinals for 2015 could be 16 or 17 with 14 of these being electors.

Allen adds that “A pope isn’t obliged, however, to follow the rules. In 2001, John Paul II blew past the 120 limit by raising the total of voting-age cardinals to 135 in one of the largest consistories ever, with a total of 38 new under-80 cardinals, plus two more announced to the world who had previously been named in pectore, meaning secretly. Last February, the take-away from Francis’ first round of new cardinals is that it was the ‘Consistory of the Peripheries.’ The global south had nine cardinals out of the 16, while only three red hats went to members of the Roman Curia, meaning the Vatican’s administrative bureaucracy. The pope also made a point of giving cardinals to places that never had them before, such as Haiti, and even within countries he tended to select smaller and often overlooked dioceses, such as Cotabato in the Philippines and Perugia in Italy”.

By way of context Allen makes the point that Europe has 54 cardianls, Latin America has 16, North America has 15, Africa has 12, Asia has 11, Mid East with 2, Caribbean 1, and Oceania has 1.

Allen continues that “almost two-thirds of the voting cardinals (69) still come from the global north, while two-thirds of the world’s Catholic population today lives in the global south. Benedict XVI began to address this imbalance in his last consistory in November 2012, in which he named seven new cardinals without a single European. Francis continued to move towards realignment in his first consistory, and will presumably do so again next February. In terms of candidates from the United States, there are three prelates from archdioceses traditionally led by a cardinal who are currently in line. In order of how long they’ve been waiting, they are: Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who took over in March 2011; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who was appointed three months later in July 2011; and Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, tapped by Francis in September 2014 and installed in November”.

He mentions that “In Los Angeles, retired Cardinal Roger Mahony is 78; in Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali is 79; and in Chicago, Cardinal Francis George is 77. However, Francis has already demonstrated a willingness to break with protocol. So the question would still be asked of why he chose not to in this case. Moreover, Rigali turns 80 in February and George is in ill health, so there would be a clear logic for setting tradition aside in at least those two cases. No matter what Francis does, many Americans will be tempted to read it as a statement. If a red hat goes to Gomez, it will be seen as history’s first pope from Latin America creating the first Hispanic cardinal in the United States, thereby giving a shout-out to the country’s burgeoning Latino Catholic population. If it’s Chaput, it will be styled as a sign of confidence ahead of the pope’s trip to Philadelphia next September for a Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families”.

He ends the piece, “If it’s Cupich, the perception may be that Francis is moving quickly to ensure that his hand-picked allies occupy the Church’s most senior posts. Critics may resurrect charges familiar from the John Paul era, albeit in a different ideological direction, that the pope is ‘stacking the deck’ in the College of Cardinals. If the pope bypasses the United States, it may be seen as a snub ahead of his American trip, since this will almost certainly be the only consistory between now and then. On the other hand, it could also be spun as an education for Americans in the realities of living in a global Church”.

November 2012 Curial assignments

02/02/2013

Following the November 2012 consistory the new cardinals have received their dicastary assignments within the Roman Curia. This list does not include other appointments made before this date.

  • James Michael Cardinal Harvey:Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See
  • Béchara Boutros Cardinal Raï, O.M.M.: Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Apostolic Signatura, Pontifical Council for the Pastoral of Migrants and Itinerants and of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
  • Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal: Congregation for the Oriental Churches and of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue
  • John Olorunfemi Cardinal Onaiyekan: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for the Family
  • Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez: Pontifical Commission for Latin America and of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
  • Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle: Pontifical Council for the Family and of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral of Migrants and Itinerants

Current College of Cardinals

04/12/2012

After the consistory of November, the total number of members of the College of Cardinals is 211, of which 2 were created by Pope Paul VI; 125 by Pope John Paul II; and 84 by Pope Benedict XVI. The cardinal non-electors are 91, of which 2 were created by Pope Paul VI; 72 by Pope John Paul II; and 17 by Pope Benedict XVI. The cardinal electors are 120; 53 have been created by Pope John Paul II; and 67 by Pope Benedict XVI.

The new contenders?

27/11/2012

In an interesting piece on the recent consistory, John Allen mentions that “One bit of proof that this consistory belonged to the whole world, and not just the West, is that the Lebanese contingent celebrating Raï’s red hat included a delegation from Hezbollah, which is seen in the West as a terrorist group but which functions in Lebanon as a political party and mainstream social movement. Each consistory tends to have its rock star cardinal, the one guy who towers over the others in terms of media appeal, the size of the crowds he draws, and so on. This time the rock star was probably Tagle, mostly because he’s seen as ‘the great Asian hope,’ meaning the most credible contender from his part of the world to become pope someday”.

This is perhaps a tad optimistic as Cardinal Tagle’s age is discounts him, for now. Allen goes on to note “the reception was a celebration of the 68-year-old Onaiyekan’s career. Appointed to lead the church in Abuja, the national capital, in 1992, Onaiyekan has long been seen as among the best and brightest of the African bishops – not only a spiritual leader but a tribune of the African people, a de facto voice for civil society in African affairs”.

Meanwhile Rocco notes that the College of Cardinals is becoming ever more Benedictine. He mentions a piece he wrote in 2010 about the growing number of cardinals Pope Benedict is appointing, he writes, “This rapid turnover of the College presents the specter of a scenario that could end up being a rather pointed last word on John Paul’s legacy: the distinct — and, with time, ever-growing — possibility that one of Karol Wojtyla’s chosen cardinals will never don the papal white”.

This idea is however tempered by the fact that two of the leading candidates, Angelo Cardinal Scola and Marc Cardinal Ouellet are both cardinals appointed by John Paul II.

Rocco then brings it up to the present day “the master-count now stands at 53 electors chosen by John Paul, to 67 by Benedict.  On age-outs alone – read: barring deaths – fifteen more voting slots will open by the end of March 2014, giving Joseph Ratzinger the potential of filling at least 82 seats in a hypothetical Conclave by that point. (For the less numerical, that’s all of 15 months away.)
In an electoral college numbering the statutory maximum of 120, a supermajority of 80 – two-thirds, without the former plus-one – is required to elect a Pope. Should no new red hats be made by then and the dreaded, rightly fearful need arise, the requisite margin to pick Peter’s successor would be 70 or less”.

He ends, fascinatingly , “That said, it bears recalling how, at February’s intake – clearly seeing the number of impending vacancies ahead – a Papa Ratzinger who had previously been a rigid follower of Paul VI’s 1975 Conclave-cap expanded the potential electorate to 125 cardinals, a full eleven of whose spots would come open before the most recent Consistory was held, before quickly being replenished in this go-round. In other words, as Popes get older, they tend to get bolder… and over the next 18 months, even more than usual, anything is possible”.

Harvey as pope?

25/11/2012

Some have naively speculated that Cardinal Harvey could be elected pope. There is however much against him.

Consistory November 2012:titles and deaconries

24/11/2012

The ordinary public consistory for the creation of new cardinals took place today. Unlike the previous consistories held by Pope Benedict there was no pre-consistory meeting. Pope Benedict’s homily is available here. Rocco notes that “despite the traditional enjoinders against piping up, today’s crowd was considerably more lively than its recent predecessors, which seemed to reflect the Pope’s repeatedly-stated aim this time of infusing a beleaguered Vatican with a shot of the ‘church of Pentecost'”.  Below are the titles and deaconries given to the new cardinals today which makes them historical successors to the clergy of Rome.

  • James Michael Cardinal Harvey: Cardinal-Deacon of San Pio V a Villa Carpegna
  • Béchara Boutros Cardinal Raï, O.M.M., Cardinal-Bishop [no suburbican see as not Latin rite cardinal]
  • Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal: Cardinal-Priest of San Gregorio VII
  • John Olorunfemi Cardinal Onaiyekan: Cardinal-Priest of San Saturnino
  • Jesus Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez: Cardinal-Priest of San Gerardo Maiella
  • Luis Antonio Gokim Cardinal Tagle: Cardinal-Priest of San Felice da Cantalice a Centocelle

Interestingly, this is the first consistory since 2006 where Pope Benedict has decided to assign no new titles or deaconaries. Secondly, in choosing to give the title of San Gregorio VII to Cardinal Thottunkal, he has ensured that the youngest cardinal in the College will hold it for decades. The first holder, Eugênio Cardinal de Araújo Sales who served as archbishop of Rio was a cardinal for 43 years having been assigned the new titular church by Pope Paul VI in 1969.

Rocco mentions “Snubbed in this Consistory list, CDF chief +Muller didn’t attend today’s rites for new cardinals, going instead to Malta”  to attend the ordination of Charles Scicluna. In a blog post Rocco notes that importance of the youngest cardinal in the entire College, Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. He writes “it bears noting that this morning brought the elevation of the youngest member of the Pope’s Senate in the figure of the 53 year-old head of India’s Syro-Malankara Catholics, now Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, shown above making the rounds following his induction”.

Rocco adds “Granted self-governing status only in early 2005 – and, thus, Catholicism’s youngest sui iuris Eastern church – the first-ever red hat for the 600,000-member community comes as a rather rapid triumph on several accounts. Over the last two decades, all of two clerics were younger still on entering the College: the Hungarian primate Peter Erdö (now head of the European bishops’ conference) at 51 in 2003 and Sarajevo’s Vinko Puljic, who John Paul II elevated at 49 in 1994 as the late pontiff’s sign of solidarity with the war-torn city, to which he was unable to travel amid the conflict over the breakup of Yugoslavia”. Rocco goes on to write ” Cleemis is a full two years’ junior to the next-youngest “prince” of the church, Manila’s Chito Tagle, who was likewise created today. As previously noted, the “50 barrier” last broken by Puljic is next expected to lift in the mid-term future with the all-but-certain elevation of the leader of the largest Eastern fold: the major-archbishop of the 6 million-member Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, 42 year-old Sviatoslav Shevchuk”. There are questions concerning when the UGCC head will become a cardinal. Some have said that his predecessor  Cardinal Husar will become 80 next year, thus they say, Shevchuk will become a cardinal at the consistory next year. However, 2014 is another possible date that should not be ruled out. Rocco closes the profile of Thottunkal by saying “In a 2003 speech to the church’s Synod – which elected Thottunkal as its de facto patriarch in February 2007 – John Paul II lauded it as Catholicism’s “fastest-growing” branch worldwide”. Others have commented “With today’s mini Consistory, Benedict XVI pointed towards an exit from the Vatileaks scandal, he “purified” the ecclesiastical hierarchies corrupted by scandal and outlined the characteristics of his successor: non-European and a pastor of persecuted communities”.

The next questions that are to be answered are, what assignments that new cardinals receive, and secondly,  when will the next consistory take place. The College of Cardinals is now at its canonical limit of 120 but it will drop to 119 on 8 December when Eusébio Oscar Cardinal Scheid turns 80. Next year an additional 10 cardinals will turn 80.

New archpriest

23/11/2012

Francesco Cardinal Monterisi was been formally retired from his post as archpriest  of the Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura and Archbishop James Michael Harvey appointed to replace him in time for the consistory tomorrow. No replacement at the Pontifical Household was named.

The tech savvy prince

23/11/2012

With the second consistory of the year to take place tomorrow, Rocco has noted that one of the new cardinals, Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manila is particularly tech savvy.

He writes “as the Latin church’s youngest red-hat, B16’s adding a thumb-up in scarlet to the prelate’s who’s already become global Catholicism’s most “Liked” major figure in social media. As of this writing, the boyish theologian’s Facebook page has racked up over 100,000 fans; by contrast, the Stateside church’s twin titans on the über-network – respectively, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. – both remain to break 20,000″. Rocco goes on to add “For purposes of context, even Brazil’s wildly-popular Father Marcelo Rossi – the onetime gymnast who recently dedicated a new sanctuary that can fit 80,000 for his nationally-televised liturgies – is followed by some 130,000 of the 900 million profiles on the platform”.

He then writes that this is in stark contrast to nearly all of the European prelates, none of which are to be elevated tomorrow. Of course, Pope Benedict has explained the calling of this consistory, the smallest since 1977, so that it will redress the heavy numbers of Europeans created February.

In a separate  but related post, Rocco writes “As of this writing – in a first for B16’s five gatherings of the College – no announcement has been made on what had been the customary day of prayer and consultation with all the cardinals on Consistory Eve. Then again, the confluence of the abbreviated 30-day timetable from the announcement and the smallest group to be elevated since 1977 could just see a lower turnout of the more far-flung members”. He concludes, “with Cardinal-designate James Harvey’s impending, already-announced move to the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls and Archbishop Joseph Tobin’s recent transfer to Indianapolis, it bears noting that the Holy See’s “chief justice,” Cardinal Raymond Burke, stands as the lone American prelate in a major Vatican post…. So they say, however, that might not remain the case for long”.

However it is not immediatly clear what he means by this as all major curial positions are filled since the appointment of Msgr Angelo Zani as secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education . The other of course, is the job currently held by Fr Lombardi, but another Burke could be taking his place.

Ratzinger rescues Tagle

07/11/2012

Tagle recalled that at one time, he made a faux pas during one of the ITC’s formal meetings and it was Ratzinger who rescued him. “At one time, we were all quiet because there was one theologian giving a lecture. I was listening and was taking notes when the lecturer said something that surprised me,” Tagle said. “I blurted out, ‘Huh?’ forgetting that the microphone in front of me was turned on and so my reaction was heard in the entire hall. I felt ashamed and just bowed my head,” he added. Tagle said he wondered what Ratzinger, who as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) presided over the ITC, would think of what he did. “So I slowly turned my head and looked at where he was sitting. It turned out he was also looking at me. When our eyes met, he winked at me. He was probably saying, ‘It’s okay.’ So, he also has that sense of humor,” he added“.

Storm in a teacup

07/11/2012

The consistory to be held this month was such a shock that previously organised meetings have had to be postponed for the attendees to visit Rome.

An article notes that “The unexpected announcement of a consistory by Pope Benedict XVI to appoint six new cardinals has led to the hurried rescheduling of a long-planned assembly of Asian bishops in Vietnam”.

It then goes on to say that this has had “mixed reactions within the Asian Church”. It adds that the “plenary of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences was due to take place at the Xuan Loc diocese pastoral center, near Ho Chi Minh City, on November 19-25” and this meeting would have been the 40th anniversary of the gathering. However with the inclusion of Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila and Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church means that the meeting dates have been altered.

Such was the shock at the move to hold a consistory that the article notes that a “Vatican official cited a notification on October 13, regarding the appointment of Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, former Archbishop of Manila, as a papal envoy. This also quoted the November dates for the FABC meeting; another indication of the unexpected suddenness of the Pope’s announcement”.

Yet the report goes on to mention the “discontent at the FABC over the change. One unnamed source described as ‘close to the FABC’ had gone so far as to call the decision ‘a blatant example of the carelessness of Vatican officials toward Asian religious leaders.'” However, it seems odd for an entire continent to be getting angry over the absence of two prelates. Even if the dates were not changed, they could have attended the vast majority of the conference and flown to Rome on the 22nd or 23rd for the consistory.

Perhaps a deeper significance is the power of the papacy which critics are really attacking, however Pope Benedict, or any pope cannot take into account every meeting and summit in order to run the global Church. However it must be said, none of this would have occurred had there simply been a consistory held next year instead rather than two this year.

The butler goes to jail, for now

05/11/2012

“Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s former butler who was found guilty of aggravated theft, was to be transferred from house arrest to a Vatican prison cell to begin his 18-month sentence. Because the Vatican’s prosecutor decided not to file an appeal, Gabriele would immediately begin serving his prison sentence by order of a Vatican court, said Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman”. It will however only be a matter of time before Pope Benedict pardons him. Indeed, those who are thought to be responsible will soon be moved on while talk of a replacement continues.

A reward for Pozzo

05/11/2012

As expected Pope Benedict XVI has named a new official to the Pontifical Household.

He has retired Archbishop Félix del Blanco Prieto as almoner of His Holiness and appointed in his place Msgr Guido Pozzo who had been serving as secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei since 2009. The role of almoner, has been described “The Pope’s almoner is an archbishop who is a member of the papal family’s ecclesiastical staff and is always present in ceremonies and audiences, alongside the Prefect of the Papal Household. The role dates back to the early centuries of the Church, when deacons first and then one or more of the members of the Pope’s family had the task of handing out the alms. In a papal bull issued by Innocence III (1198-1216), the almoner is referred to a san already existing figure, while the role of the Office of Papal Charities was established by Gregory X in the eighth century.  The papal almoner has the dignity of archbishop and since the era of Leo XIII (1878-1903) this figure has also been responsible for handing out apostolic blessings on parchment paper, authenticating them with his signature. All revenues from the issue of blessing “certificates” go to the Pope’s charity”.

It has been noted that “Pozzo has been involved in the tough task of keeping dialogue between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X” Now that the talks have effectively collapsed between the Church and the SSPX, Benedict obviously thought it was time to reward Pozzo for his efforts while allowing the new Vice-President, Archbishop DiNoia and President, Archbishop Muller to focus on other issues. Also of note is the fact that no successor for Pozzo was appointed adding traction to the view that a major piece of Pope Benedict’s pontificate has failed.

Other appointments to be expected are a new secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and according to some, a new director of the Vatican Press Office. Fr Lombardi, SJ has been in office since September 2006 and it is thought that Greg Burke, who advises Cardinal Bertone, would take the role.

Either Lombardi will stay in his job or, Burke’s appointment will be announced later on, or perhaps in the new year. If these moves are still to go ahead, Lombardi should have been given the almoner’s job allowing him an easy retirement, and Pozzo given a diocese in Italy, any number of which are vacant or have bishops past the retirement age. These include but are not limited to the archdioceses of  Ferrara–Comacchio, Monreale, or the diocese of Ventimiglia-San Remo as well as a host of others.

Alternatively, Lombardi could fill the currently vacant role at Catholic Education which would allow Burke to take up his job.

The other soon to be vacant job that needs to be filled is that of the prefect of the Pontifical Household, Archbishop James Harvey who will become a cardinal at the consistory at the end of this month. Among the names for his successor are Georg Gänswein, Benedict’s private secretary. Other names mentioned are that of Croatian nuncio Petar Rajic, who spent “years in the communications Office of the Secretariat of State, Rajic became Prelate of the Antechamber and so had worked alongside Harvey, making himself known to the members of the Pope’s closest entourage. Another name going round is that of 56 year old Frenchman, Nicolas Henry Thevenin, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s personal secretary and current Prelate of the Antechamber. Yet another name is that of the newly nominated Regent of the Papal Household, the Rogationist, Fr. Leonardo Sapienza”. Also still vacant is the diocese of Regensburg since the appointment of Archbishop Muller to the CDF. Word still exists of Ganswein leaving Rome and taking the job.

The new prefect “is not expected to be made before November’s Consistory and some are anticipating a surprise move from the Pope, a reshuffle in light of the Vatileaks scandal”. Who Benedict chooses will reveal much.

“Transfer jurisdiction”

28/10/2012

In a speech at the end of the Synod on the New Evangelisation, Pope Benedict gave reasons for holding the small consistory next month, but he also, in the same speech, stated, ” I would like to make an announcement. In the context of the reflections of the Synod of Bishops, ‘The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith,’ and at the end of a process of reflection on the themes of seminaries and Catechesis, I am pleased to announce that I have decided, after further reflection and prayer to transfer jurisdiction over Seminaries from the Congregation for Catholic Education, to the Congregation for the Clergy and competence of Catechesis from the Congregation for the Clergy, to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation. The relative documents will be forthcoming in the form of an Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio”.

As ever Rocco has the context. He writes “In impromptu remarks to the gathering, B16 announced a small, but significant shift of functions within the Roman Curia, transferring the Vatican’s oversight of seminaries – held until now by the Congregation for Catholic Education – to the auspices of the Congregation for the Clergy, while the latter’s longtime authority over catechetical programs and materials will be given to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation”.

He goes on to mention that the moving of authority is important because “it defies the traditional understanding of the hierarchy of the Roman dicasteries, where – as a general rule – executive authority over matters of the church’s internal life is held” by the oldest offices of the Curia, the congregations, he adds “hile the newer pontifical councils (the so-called ‘new Curia’ established following Vatican II, now numbering 12 offices) do not exercise governance, but instead promote initiatives and conduct dialogue with constituencies that fall outside the Holy See’s realm of direct control”. Rocco goes on to write that ” the desk-shuffling is likely to fuel a long-standing criticism voiced by some top prelates: namely, that official efforts toward a fresh evangelization push end up placing their emphasis on a re-proposal of church teaching at the expense of a primary focus on the “living encounter with Christ.”

Rocco then mentions the remarks of Pope Benedict explaining the November consistory adding later on in the article that “While the fifth consistory of this pontificate – the smallest since 1977 – is indeed heavily weighted toward the East with the elevation of two heads of self-governing Oriental churches, it bears noting that another of the group who’s been a lead voice at this Synod was conspicuously left off the list: the de facto patriarch of the largest Eastern fold, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev, head of the world’s 6 million Ukrainian Greek-Catholics”.

Yet just a few lines after his paragraph he answers his own question noting that Cardinal Husar MSU who led the UGCC until his retirement in 2011 will turn 80 and lose voting rights next year. Therefore it would not be hard to foresee Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk becoming a cardinal in 2013 or 2014.

Consistory explained

28/10/2012

With this little Consistory I wanted to complete the Consistory of February, in the context of the new evangelisation, with a gesture of the universality of the Church, showing that the Church is the Church of all peoples, she speaks in all languages, she is always a Church of Pentecost; not the Church of one continent, but a universal Church. This was precisely my intention, to express this in this context, this universality of the Church, which is also the beautiful expression of this Synod“.

November 2012 consistory

24/10/2012

In a move that has shocked even the most expierenced Vatican watchers Pope Benedict XVI has called a consistory to create new cardinals to be held in exactly one month’s time, Feast of Christ the King, 24 November. This gathering will be the second consistory to be held under the new rules for the creation of cardinals that was first used in February. This is the second consistory of the year. Those to be elevated in order are:

  • James Michael Harvey, prefect of the Pontifical Household
  • Bechara  Boutros Rai, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronite Catholic Church
  • Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankar Catholic Church
  • John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja
  • Jesús Rubén Salazar Gómez, archbishop of Bogotá
  • Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila

The last time that two consistories were held in a  year was 1929 when there was a one in July and a second in December. There was only one cardinal created in July 1929 and six in December. There are no Italians on the list which though understandable given that the consistory of Feburary contained so many but what cannot be explained is that there was no real curial presence in those to be created with the new CDF prefect, as well as a host of others all absent.

The only curialist is Archbishop James Michael Harvey, prefect of the Papal Household. Even more unusual is that Archbishop Harvey was not appointed as archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls. The announcement merely stating “whom the Pope plans to appoint as” the new archpriest. This gives the impression that the decision to hold the consistory is rushed. In the February consistory that was announced on 6 January, Benedict had appointed Archbishop Manuel Montiero de Castro as the major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary the previous day in preparation for the announcement. The fact that Harvey was not even appointed as archpriest lends an air of disorganisation to the event. Not only that, but the inclusion of Harvey also speaks volumes with regard to his role in the Vatican leaks scandal. Harvey’s time as archpriest will easily be 15 years, in a job that is meant as a reward for ex-nuncio’s and senior curialists. Instead Archbishop Harvey’s new assignment will only stoke the talk that he is the leaker attempting to oust Cardinal Bertone from his post of secretary of State to His Holiness. The appointment allows Pope Benedict, or perhaps more accurately, Bertone to name someone more in line with his agenda, or at least less opposed to it.

Benedict has moved the composition of the College of Cardinals away from the Italian dominated consistory in February by including the archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria as well as Archbishop Tagle of Manila. He has also included Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal the major archbishop of the Syro-Malankar Catholic Church to be elevated to the cardinalate is not only the first to recieve the red hat but at 53 is set to become the youngest cardinal in the entire College overtaking the archbishop of Berlin, Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki, who was elevated in February.

Although there will have been two consistories this year, there will be 11 electors aging out between the 8 December 2012 (Eusébio Cardinal Scheid) and the 25 December 2013 (Joachim Cardinal Meisner). So a much reduced in size consistory in 2013 is still more than likely to happen which will include Archbishop Muller of the CDF as well as others such as Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, SDB, Jose Gomez, Vincent Nichols, Jose Palma and Francesco Moraglia to name but a few.

Rocco, as surprised as everyone else, notes that this consistory “is the smallest to be called since Paul VI’s final intake of four cardinals in June 1977, at which Papa Montini elevated the freshly-ordained 50 year-old archbishop of Munich and Freising, Joseph Ratzinger.  That gathering was known as the ‘Benelli consistory’ for its linchpin figure – the longtime Curial power Giovanni Benelli, who had been dispatched to Florence earlier that month amid heavy speculation that the move reflected his status as Paul’s intended successor.  In other words, the small intake was seen as the frail pontiff’s taking care of his ‘unfinished business.’ Whether that’s the case again, of course, time will tell”. He also mentions that in “a break from usual practice, all of the diocesan cardinals-designate but one (Salazar) are in Rome for the Synod of Bishops for the New Evangelization, and so are unable to mark today’s announcement with their communities at home. Reflecting the degree to which the move was unforeseen, statements on the elevations have yet to emerge from the dioceses of the far-flung designates”.

Others have  noted that “This is the first consistory since the one celebrated by Pope Pius XI on December 19, 1927 (X) in which no Italian prelate was promoted to the cardinalate; and the first one in which no Europeans were elevated to that dignity since the consistory of March 24, 1924 (IV) by the same pope”.