The announcement on Thursday, October 7, that Pope Benedict had accepted the resignation of His Eminence Cláudio Cardinal Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, came as a surprise and is taken as a sign that the Holy Father intends to hold a third consistory for the naming of new cardinals at an early date, probably Saturday, 27 November.
If this IS the case, then the list of new cardinals should be issued this coming Sunday, October 17.
A Franciscan, Cardinal Hummes was Archbishop of São Paolo, Brazil, before being called to Rome in 2006 as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. Although at 76 years of age already past the age limit, His Eminence is neither ill nor infirm and, indeed, still has a little over a year of his tenure to run.
It seems clear that the Pope must have had a good reason for acting now. And the best of reasons would be a desire to avoid having yet another head of a ranking dicastery, tribunal or other institute of the Holy See entitled by canon law, or by long custom and usage, to the cardinalatial dignity serving for some considerable time before being created cardinal.
This has already happened with Archbishops Raymond Leo Burke (American, 62) Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (June 27, 2008), Angelo Amato (Italian, 72) Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (July 9, 2008), Fortunato Baldelli (Italian, 75), Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary (June 2, 2009), and Francesco Monterisi (Italian, 76) Archpriest of St Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls (July 3, 2009).
These will all be on the list whenever it is released and it is confidently expected that Msgr Angelo Amato, who served under the Holy Father at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will have the position of honour, No 1 on the list. To him will go the signal honour of addressing the Pope on behalf of all the new cardinals at the public consistory on the Saturday morning.
The above named will be joined by the prelate chosen to succeed Cardinal Hummes as Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy. This is the man largely responsible for ensuring the success of the Year of Priests, Msgr Mauro Piacenza, titular Archbishop of Victoriana (Victorian England, apparently; and, no, I don’t have a clue either).
These five are guaranteed to be on the list since the Apostolic Constitution Sapienti consilio (Pope St Pius X, June 29, 1908) and relevant subsequent papal endorsements up to and including Pastor Bonus (John Paul II, June 28, 1988) stipulate that the Prefects of all nine Congregations of the Roman Curia must either be a cardinal upon appointment or be created a cardinal at the earliest opportunity thereafter. The same applies to the Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, and has until now applied to those appointed Archpriest of the three Major Basilicas which have always in modern times had such a prelate. It has only been since 2005 and the motu proprio “The Ancient and Venerable Basilica” (May 31) that St Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls has had an Archpriest nominated by the Supreme Pontiff but it can be assumed that that practice will also apply now in that case.
Other nominations from within the Roman Curia are also expected, Archbishops:
• Francesco Coccopalmerio (Italian, 72), Legislative Texts (February 15, 2007)
• Gianfranco Ravasi (Italian, 68 on Monday, October 18), Culture, who is also President of both the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and that for Sacred Archaeology (all as of September 3, 2007)
• Velasio de Paolis (Italian, 75), Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See (April 12, 2008)
• Antonio Maria Veglio (Italian, 71), Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (February 28, 2009)
• Paolo Sardi (Italian, 76), Vice-Camerlengo (or, Chamberlain), Pro-Patron of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta (June 7, 2009).
The first two will be honoured because of the historic importance of their positions, their intellectual brilliance, their priestly reputations, the esteem in which they are held by Pope Benedict and their value to this pontificate.
Msgr De Paolis would be made cardinal because of the singular importance of his office. The Prefecture was erected in 1967 and of Msgr De Paolis’s five predecessors, four were cardinals on appointment and the other, his immediate predecessor, was elevated at the second consistory after his appointment. However, Cardinal Sebastini was appointed on November 3, 1997, and the list of 22 new cardinals to be elevated at the consistory of February 21, 1978, was announced on January 18. It is likely that his appointment came just too late to accommodate him.
Msgr Veglio would be honoured not because of his current position but because of his long and devoted service to the Holy See, firstly, in its diplomatic service and then, secondly, in the Roman Curia where he served as Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Of course, if the list of new cardinals IS announced this Sunday while the Special Synod for the Middle East is in progress, Msgr Veglio’s elevation will be received with especial delight by the Synod Fathers.
Msgr Sardi, was and remains a very senior curialist and his appointment to succeed the late Pio Cardinal Laghi emphasises this. That style – “Pro-Patron” – means that for the time being the Holy Father has reserved the patronage to himself. A similar thing happened before the last consistory. Cardinal Foley was appointed Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on June 27, 2007 and was raised to the cardinalatial dignity five months later.
(The Vice-Chamberlain of the Apostolic Camera was until 1870 Governor of the City of Rome. He is the prelate whose authority during a sede vacante is next only to that of the Camerlengo and the Dean of the Sacred College. To him is entrusted responsibility for the security of the conclave, to which no one can be admitted without his permission.)
While this might seem to be rather more than enough cardinals in curia, since the Holy Father chose to officially launch the new dicastery, the Pontifical Council for promoting the New Evangelization on Tuesday, October 12, ahead of the expected announcement of the list of new cardinals on October 17, this may indicate that he intends to create cardinal its founding President, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella. (In this regard it should be noted that the constitution of the new dicastery includes “Art. 4. Paragraph 1. The Council is headed by an Archbishop President…” but this is in conformity with the constitutions of the other dicasteries which have at their head Archbishops President who are also cardinals.)
That all comes to ten or eleven new cardinals; but, how many will there, or can there, be?
The Sacred College of Cardinals currently numbers 179 in all but only 103 are presently under 80 years of age and hence eligible to take part in a conclave as cardinal electors. If the consistory IS scheduled for Saturday, November 27, then a further two cardinals will have reached the electoral age limit: Cardinals Tumi, Cameroon, and Pujats, Latvia. This will allow for 19 nominations to the roll of cardinal electors. (In the unlikely event that the Pope should decide to leave summoning the cardinals to a consistory until the end of April, then another six places would be available, allowing for 25 nominations.)
The non-curial cardinals to be created will be chosen from the ranks of the Metropolitan Archbishops from throughout the Universal Church. In Rome, the three regarded as the most important outside of Italy are Munich, New York and London, that is Westminster.
In the week following the last consistory, on November 30, 2007, it was announced that Msgr Reinhard Marx had been nominated Archbishop of Munich in succession to Friedrich Cardinal Wetter. Unquestionably, the choice of Msgr Marx was known in advance of the consistory. So why was the announcement delayed until after it?
There are two possibilities. Firstly, the Archbishop of Munich is always created cardinal at the earliest opportunity after appointment. It may well have been that Msgr Marx had emerged as the preferred candidate just too late to be included in the consistory and so the announcement had to be delayed in order that the impression was not given that Munich had been snubbed. Or, secondly, at the time of the consistory Cardinal Wetter was still a cardinal elector and would remain so until February 20 in the following year, 2008. What did that matter?
Msgr Marx will definitely be on the list of new cardinals and so, too, will Msgr Paolo Romeo (Italian, 72) Archbishop of Palermo (December 19, 2006). Prior to his nomination to Palermo, Msgr Romeo was Apostolic Nuncio to Italy. In modern times those prelates who have risen to the summit of the diplomatic service of the Holy See with appointment as Nuncio to either Italy or France have at the end of their tenure then retired from the diplomatic service and have been given a red hat (see Pope John XXIII).
The problem for Msgr Romeo was that the man he was replacing, His Eminence Salvatore Cardinal de Giorgi, was only 76 years old and hence still a cardinal elector. Moreover, at the time of the last consistory, in November 2007, he was still only 77. This is a problem that has only really surfaced in relatively recent times: cardinal metropolitan archbishops retiring while they are still cardinal electors.
There is no law which says that their successors cannot be created cardinal until either they have turned their toes up or celebrated their 80th birthdays. But clearly Pope Benedict has decided that it is in general a bad idea, risking an undue bias, or weighting, should a conclave become necessary. It would be like a Tesco sale: two votes for the price of one!
This begs the question: Will the recently appointed Metropolitan Archbishops of New York, Westminster, and, and just as importantly, Rio de Janeiro be honoured at the forthcoming consistory?
Rio is in fact the greater problem for the Holy Father to decide on. The Cistercian Archbishop Orani João Tempesta (60, appointed February 27, 2009) has in his See not one but two Cardinal Archbishops Emeritus: Cardinals de Araújo Sales, who will be 90 in November, and; Cardinal Scheid, who will be 78 in December and who is, therefore, still a cardinal elector.
In New York, Cardinal Ed Egan is 78 and will be 79 next April 2. In London, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is 78 and will be 79 next August 24. It may well be, then, that, along with Archbishop Tempesta, one or other or both of their successors ― Archbishops Tim Dolan (60; appointed February 23, 2009) and Vincent Nichols (65 on November 8; April 3, 2009) ― may well be disappointed this time round.
But then again maybe not.
Rio is a huge diocese and Latin America is statistically under-represented in the Sacred College; New York’s Catholics and their generosity are essential to the Church’s finances, and; England (and NOT Westminster) is the Mother of Parliaments and the Anglophone Catholic Churches throughout the developing world do look to her (and to Ireland and to Scotland) for direction and leadership.
So it would be no great surprise if all three were included in the list.
And it should also be remembered that even for Pope Benedict it is not written in stone that a new Archbishop cannot be made a cardinal while his predecessor remains a cardinal elector.
Giacomo Cardinal Biffi, then aged 75½, retired as Archbishop of Bologna on December 16, 2003, and on that same day Msgr Carlo Caffarra was named as his successor. On March 24, 2006, at the first Benedictine consistory Archbishop Caffarra was created cardinal DESPITE the fact that Cardinal Biffi was, aged 78 years, still a cardinal elector. And still very much on the go.
The Archbishops of Italy’s major Sees have always been rewarded with the Sacred Roman Purple at the next consistory after their appointment. These are the Archbishops of Venice (Patriarch), Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo and Turin, and the Pope’s Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome. One only has to call to mind the furore caused when Pope Pius XII named Msgr Battista Montini Archbishop of Milan but failed to give him a cardinal’s hat. (That he never held a subsequent third consistory to fill a number of vacancies in the Sacred College is irrelevant. On July 15, 1929, Pius XI held a consistory at which only ONE cardinal was created: Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster OSB, Archbishop of Milan!)
It might well be highly significant that Msgr Cesare Nosiglia (66) was appointed Archbishop of Turin this very week, on Monday, October 11. As with Archbishop Tempesta in Rio de Janeiro, Msgr Nosiglia has two Cardinal Archbishops Emeritus to cope with and, as in Rio, one of them is still a cardinal elector, His Eminence Severino Cardinal Poletto, aged 77.
It might well be that the timing of the announcement of Msgr Nosiglia has a significance similar to that of Archbishop Piacenza’s. Perhaps it has been announced now precisely so that he CAN be created cardinal at this consistory. This would then act as a justification for the inclusion in the list of new cardinals of Archbishops Dolan, Nichols and Tempesta. After all, would it not be highly unfair to include an Italian whose predecessor remains a cardinal elector while excluding on that ground an American, a European and a Latin American?
Another Italian Metropolitan Archbishop, Msgr Giuseppe Betori (63), will also be named cardinal. He was appointed Archbishop of Florence (September 8, 2008) in succession to Ennio Cardinal Antonelli when the latter was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. (When Cardinal Antonelli was created cardinal in 2003 he received as his titular church San Andrea della Fratte, which had been Cardinal Winning’s church in Rome.)
In the same way that Msgr Betori was appointed because his predecessor had been tapped for service in the Roman Curia, Msgr Braulio Rodriguez Plaza was translated to Toledo when Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. And so Msgr Rodriguez Plaza will be now be named cardinal.
Poland will likely see two of her prelates honoured: Msgri Józef Kowalczyk, Gniezno, the Primate, and Kazimierz Nycz (60), Warsaw.
Four years after his nomination as Archbishop of Washington DC, Msgr Donald William Wuerl, who will be 70 on November 12, will now receive his red hat, Cardinal McCarrick having turned 80 in July.
Out of Africa, it is expected that Msgr Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (71), Archbishop of Kinshasa (formerly Leopoldville) Democratic Republic of the Congo, will be elevated. From 1964 to 1970, Monsengwo Pasinya was a student at Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute from which he graduated with a doctorate in Biblical Sciences, the first black African ever to do so. He is reputed to be fluent in 14 languages. An indication of his stature within the Church in Africa is the fact that in August of 2008, following the death of the Holy Father’s friend, Bishop Wilhelm Egger of Belzano-Bressanone, Msgr Monsengwo Pasinya was selected to replace him as special secretary to the Synod for Africa held in October of that year.