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.
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.