Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hierarchy update: Consistory called for November

After almost a year of speculation, the Holy Father made the official announcement today at his Wednesday audience that he will hold a consistory on 20 November 2010. At this consistory Pope Benedict will create 24 new cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. I weighed in with some speculation last November in a post The Sacred College of Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church.

Of note and special concern to me is that one Eastern Rite patriarch, Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts in Egypt, will be created a cardinal. Unlike the Maronite and Chaldean patriarchs, who, while members of the Sacred College, are superannuated, that is, they are over 80 and, hence, unable to participate in any conclave to select the next pope, Patriarch Antonios, at 75, is eligible to participate in a conclave should one occur in the next four years or so. It is interesting to note that one of the items being discussed at the Synod of Bishops on the Middle East currently being held in Rome is allowing the patriarchs of Eastern Churches, who do not resign at age 75, but, like the pope, can serve until death, to participate in conclaves regardless of age and without having to be members of the College of Cardinals. When one is created a cardinal he becomes a member of the clergy of Rome. Needless to say, creating an Eastern patriarch a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church is ecclesiologically complicated and not always well-received in Eastern Catholic circles, not to mention puzzling to our Orthodox friends.

Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, being created a cardinal November 2007

Two prelates from the U.S. are among those who will don red in November: Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, which is something akin to the canonical supreme court and Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington. D.C. Neither Archbishop Dolan of New York nor Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles were on the list this time around. In the case of Dolan, his predecessor, Cardinal Egan, has not yet reached 80 and Gomez remains coadjutor to Cardinal Mahoney in Los Angeles, who will not turn 80 for more than 5 years.

Also on the list is Archbishop Reinhard Marx, who, as archbishop of München und Freising, leads the church formerly led by the Holy Father himself, prior to his being summoned to Rome in 1981 by Pope John Paul II. I am still waiting for an English translation of the 2008 book written by Marx, who is a sociologist, Das Kapital:A Plea for Man.

Barring any untimely deaths, the creation of 20 new cardinals on 20 November 2010 will raise the number of electors for a potential conclave to 121 until 26 January 2011, when Cardinal Panafieu of Marseille, France turns 80, at which time the number of electors will be 120, the number specified in the Apostolic Constitution, promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1996, Universi Dominici Gregis. A number Pope Benedict, unlike his predecessor, has been keen not to exceed.

As has become customary, the Holy Father has named four men cardinals as something of an honorarium, all of them entering the Sacred College already having turned 80. Staying with the precedent established when the great Dominican theologian Yves Congar was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II, the two of these men who are not already bishops will not be ordained to the episcopacy.

Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam


  1. This will never happen in our lifetime, but perhaps it is time to re-think the whole college of cardinals thing. As far as I know, it is a second millenium practice, and seems rather unjust to have a Pope which claims a universal jurisdiction, and yet have the Eastern Chruches with little to no say on the matter.

    Perhaps a return to the Holy Roman Emporer having influence in the decision ;-)

    Or, we could go to a model in which the other patriarchates excercise a greater influence as they have a greater degree of jurisdiction.

  2. Dan:

    The funny thing is that nobody really disputes, at least not seriously, the ecclesiological issues that you raise. However, it would be a bold reform, indeed, to include Eastern patriarchs in conclave on the basis of them being, well, patriarchs, especially the patriarchs of those churches for which there is no Orthodox equivalent (i.e., Maronite, Chaldean, Coptic, Armenian- the Copts and the Armenians, while legitimate churches are not Orthodox, or, strictly speaking, orthodox) as well as western patriarchs (i.e., Lisbon, Venice, the East Indies, but probably excluding the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem), in addition to Cardinals.

    I favor dramatically reducing the number of curial cardinals and doing away with naming those prelates cardinals who head up the Orders of Malta and Holy Sepulchre. At least to my mind, both the curia and Sacred College could still do with being more internationalized, as it were. Latin America and Africa are grossly under-represented in both, while the gasping churches of Europe remain over-represented.


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