Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Stormont comes to Holyrood

Students of comparative law might wish to take cognisance of the following, and so might those of Irish Catholic antecedents, especially if they value them.

Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland), 1922 [12 & 13 Geo. 5. c. 5 (N.I.)]
An Act to empower certain authorities of the Government of Northern Ireland to take steps for preserving the peace and maintaining order in Northern Ireland, and for purposes connected therewith.
[7th April, 1922.]

(2) For the purposes of this Act the civil authority shall be the Minister of Home Affairs for Northern Ireland, but that Minister may delegate, either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as he thinks fit, all or any of his powers under this Act to any officer of police, and any such officer of police shall, to the extent of such delegation, be the civil authority as respects any part of Northern Ireland specified in such delegation

(1) A person alleged to be guilty of an offence against the regulations may be tried by a court of summary jurisdiction constituted in accordance with this section, and not otherwise.

(2) An offence against the regulations shall not be prosecuted except by such officer or person as may be authorised in that behalf by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, and in accordance with such directions as may be given by the said Attorney General.


(1) The civil authority may make orders prohibiting or restricting in any area
(a) The holding of or taking part in meetings, assemblies (in eluding fairs and markets), or processions in public places;
(b) The use or wearing or possession of uniforms or badges of a naval, military or police character, or of uniforms or badges indicating membership of any association or body specified in the order;

4. Where there appears to be reason to apprehend that the assembly of any persons for the purpose of the holding of any meeting will give rise to grave disorder, and will thereby cause undue demands to be made upon the police forces, or that the holding of any procession will conduce to a breach of the peace or will promote disaffection, it shall be lawful for the civil authority, or for any magistrate or chief officer of police who is duly authorised for the purpose by the civil. authority, or for two or more of such persons so authorised, to make an order prohibiting the holding of the meeting or procession, and if a meeting or procession is held or attempted to be held in contravention of any such prohibition, it shall be lawful to take such steps as may be necessary to disperse the meeting or procession or prevent the holding thereof ; and every person taking part in any such prohibited meeting or procession shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations.

(1) The Minister of Home Affairs may, by order, declare this regulation to be in force in any area, and in any such area no person other than a member of the police forces, shall, subject to any exceptions for which provision may be made in the order, practise, take part in, or he concerned in any exercise, movement, evolution, or drill of a military nature, or be concerned in, or assist the promotion or organisation of any such exercise, movement, evolution, or drill, by persons other than members of the police forces.

If any person attempts or does any act calculated or likely to cause mutiny, sedition, or disaffection in any police force or among the civilian population, or to impede delay or restrict any work necessary for the preservation of the peace or maintenance of order he shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations.

Where the civil authority, or any superior officer of police, is of opinion that a meeting or assembly is being or about to be held of such a character that an offence against these regulations may he committed thereat, he may authorise in writing a police constable or other person to attend the meeting or assembly, and any police constable or person so authorised may enter the place at which the meeting or assembly is held and remain there during its continuance.
In this regulation the expression "superior officer of police -, means an officer of police of a rank superior to that of constable.
The powers given by this regulation shall be in addition to and not in derogation of any powers of the civil authority, constables, or superior officers of police.

Any person authorised for the purpose by the civil authority, or any police constable, or member of any of His Majesty’s forces on duty when the occasion for the arrest arises, may arrest without warrant any person whose behaviour is of such a nature as to give reasonable grounds for suspecting that he has acted or is acting or is about to act in a manner prejudicial to the preservation of the peace or maintenance of order, or upon whom may be found any article, book, letter, or other document, the possession of which gives ground for such a suspicion, or who is suspected of having committed an offence against these regulations, or of being in possession of any article or document which is being used or intended to be used for any purpose or in any way prejudicial to the preservation of the peace or maintenance of order, and anything found on any person so arrested which there is reason to suspect is being so used or intended to be used may be seized, and the civil authority may order anything so seized to be destroyed or otherwise disposed of.

(1) Any person who does any act with a view to promoting or calculated to promote the objects of an unlawful association within the meaning of section 7 of the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act, 1887, shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations.

(2) If any person, without lawful authority or excuse, has in his possession any document relating or purporting to relate to the affairs of any such association, or emanating or purporting to emanate from an officer of any such association, or addressed to the person as an officer or member of any such association, or indicating that he is an officer or member of any such association, that person shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations unless he proves that he did not know or had no reason to suspect that the document was of any such character as aforesaid or that he is not an officer or member of the association.

Where a person is charged with having in his possession any such document, and the document was found on premises in his occupation, or under his control, or in which he has resided, the document shall be presumed to have been in his possession unless the contrary is proved.

No person shall by word of mouth or in writing, or in any newspaper, periodical, book, circular, or other printed publication —

(a) spread false reports or make false statements; or

(b) spread reports or make statements intended or likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty, or to interfere with the success of any police or other force acting for the preservation of the peace or maintenance of order in Northern Ireland;

The powers conferred by these regulations are in addition to and not in derogation of any powers exerciseable by the civil authority and other persons to take such steps as may be necessary for securing the preservation of the peace or maintenance of order, and save as otherwise expressly provided by these regulations nothing in these regulations shall affect the liability of any person to trial and punishment for any offence or crime otherwise than in accordance with these regulations. Provided that no person shall be liable to be punished twice for the same offence or crime.

Flags and Emblems (Display) Act (Northern Ireland), 1954 [1954 c. 10 (N.I.).]

An Act to make provision with respect to the display of certain flags and emblems.
[6th April, 1954.]

1. Any person who prevents or threatens to interfere by force with the display of a Union flag (usually known as the Union Jack) by another person on or in any lands or premises lawfully occupied by that other person shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

(l) Where any police officer, having regard to the time or place at which and the circumstances in which any emblem is being displayed, apprehends that the display of such emblem may occasion a breach of the peace, he may require the person displaying or responsible for the display of such emblem to discontinue such display or cause it to be discontinued; and any person who refuses or fails to comply with such a requirement shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

(2) Where:
(a) a requirement under the preceding subsection is not complied with; or
(b) the person responsible for such display is not readily available; or
(c) no person, or no person responsible for such display and capable of complying with such a requirement, is present on or in any lands or premises whereon or wherein such an emblem is being displayed;
a police officer may without warrant enter any such lands or premises, using such force as may be necessary, and may remove and seize and detain such emblem.

(4) In this section the expression “emblem” includes a flag of any kind other than the Union flag, and the expression “police officer” means an officer, head-constable or sergeant of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The Special Powers Act was repealed under "Direct Rule" by the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973.

The Flags and Emblems Act was repealed under "Direct Rule" by the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987.

To the shame of Scotland, they were both resuscitated under devolved rule by the SNP administration at Holyrood in the guise of The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 which was passed on 14th December 2011 and will come into effect on 1st March 2012.

Ian Paisley should live at this hour!
The Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and the Roman Curia

The Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy (usually referred to in Rome simply as the “academia”) is housed in the Palazzo Severoli located on the Piazza della Minerva, just behind the Pantheon. Founded in April 1701 by Abbot Pietro Garagni during the reign of Pope Clement XI, the academia is dedicated to training priests selected from all over the Catholic world — nowadays, but originally from the ranks of the “nobles” within the Papal states and soon its closest allies — to serve in the diplomatic corps and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See.

Archbishop Celestinio Migliore, currently Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, was Undersecretary for Relations with States December 16, 1995 – October 30, 2002. On that latter date he was appointed Permanent Observer at the UN, New York (where he was assisted for a couple of years by Msgr Leo Cushley, Scottish, a priest of the Diocese of Motherwell). As Under-Secretary, His Excellency served ex-officio as Professor of Ecclesiastical Diplomacy at the Pontifical Lateran University and had responsibility for delivering the course on papal diplomacy for the students of the academia.

He has described the curriculum thus: “The academic curriculum consists of two years of specialized studies: ecclesiastical diplomacy, international law, monographs on international organizations and on techniques of negotiations; the history of ecclesiastical diplomacy, diplomatic styles, courses on great modern cultural and theological strains; and economic and social questions.

“At the same time, students take courses in information technology and languages. Each student, at the end of the curriculum, has to possess a working knowledge of at least two languages in addition to his mother tongue. The major languages studied are: English, French, Spanish, and German, and, increasingly, Arabic and the languages of Eastern Europe and Asia.” (‘Foreign’ students must already be totally fluent in Italian before selection.)

Each year roughly between eight and twelve diocesan priests from around the world are recruited to the academia; sometimes fewer and sometimes more, but never by much. Ten years ago, the Class of 2002 had 14 students. The Class of 1986, which included our very own Msgr Peter Magee PhB STL JCD (a priest of the Diocese of Galloway and now President of the National Tribunal) had 5. Ultimately, the hope would be that the brightest and the best, and NOT the most ambitious, alumni of the academia will in time be appointed as Apostolic Nuncios with the ecclesiastical rank of an archbishop. But obviously not all will, or, indeed, could be.

Moreover, even if an alumnus reaches the giddy heights of an Apostolic Nunciature that is not necessarily as far as he will go in service of the Holy See.

Academia alumni serving in the dicasteries of the Roman Curia


Cardinal Angelo Sodano (Class of: 1959/enrolment number: 1325); Secretary of State Emeritus and Dean of the Sacred College.

First Section
Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu (1980/1533) Substitute for General Affairs (sostituto), (date of appointment IF still serving: May 10, 2011)

Msgr Peter Brian Wells (1996/1688; American, only given if non-Italian); Assessor for General Affairs (assessore) (July 16, 2009);
Archbishop Luciano Suriani (1986/1594) Delegate for Pontifical Representations (Sep 24, 2009) [Mgr Suriani was an academia classmate of Mgr Peter Magee, priest of the Diocese of Galloway and President of the Scottish National Tribunal.]

Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu (1992/1646; Nigerian); Head of Protocol (Sep 4, 2007)

Second Section
Archbishop Dominique François Joseph Mamberti (1982/1652, French, Moroccan born); Secretary for the Relations with States (Sep 15, 2006)

Msgr. Ettore Balestrero (1996/162); Undersecretary for the Relations with States (Aug 17, 2009) [Mgr Balestrero was an academia classmate of Mgr Leo Cushley, priest of the Diocese of Motherwell and Head of the English Language Section of the Secretariat of State, and hence the Pope's English Language Interpreter.]

Note: If any prelate listed here below has previously served in the Secretariat of State, a note to that effect will be given as such service is a good indicator of promotion to the very highest levels (for example, two former sostituti were elected Pope in the 20th century, Benedict XV and Paul VI).


Congregation for the Oriental Churches
Leonardo Cardinal Sandri (1971/1446)(Nov 18, 1943, Argentinean, ethnic Italian); Prefect (Jun 9, 2007); former sostituto (Sep 16, 2000-Jun 9, 2007)

Achille Cardinal Silvestrini (1952/1270); Prefect Emeritus; former Secretary for the relations with States (May 4, 1979-Mar 1, 1986) [Cardinal Silvestrini’s successor as Secretary for the Relations with States was Cardinal Sodano]

Congregation for Bishops
Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri (1971/1437)(Sep29, 1940); Secretary (Jan 11, 2012)

Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Fernando Filoni (1979/1528) (Apr 15, 1946); Prefect (May 10, 2011); former sostituto (Jun 9, 2007-May 10, 2011)

Ivan Cardinal Dias (1962/1346) (April 14, 1936); Prefect Emeritus


Apostolic Penitentiary
Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Manuel Monteiro de Castro (1965/1377, Portuguese)(Mar 29, 1938); Major Penitentiary (Jan 5, 2012)

Fortunato Cardinal Baldelli (1964/1360)(Aug 6, 1935); Major Penitentiary Emeritus
Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura


Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy (1953/1280); President Emeritus

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
Renato Cardinal Raffaele Martino (1960/ 1334) (Nov 23, 1932); President Emeritus

Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Antonio Mari Vegliὸ (1966/1988) (Feb 3, 1938); President (Feb 28, 2009)

Cardinal Giovanni Cheli (1950/1257); President Emeritus

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto (1964/1370); Secretary Emeritus

Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue
Jean-Louis Pierre Cardinal Tauran (1973/1472)(Apr 5, 1943); President (Jun 25, 2007); former Secretary for the Relations with the States (Decemebr 1, 1990-October 6, 2003). Curiously, Cardinal Tauran did not serve as an Apostolic Nuncio before his appointment as head of the Second Section of the Secretariat of State.

Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata (1965/1375); Secretary (Nov 14, 2002) [Mgr Celata was an academia classmate of Mgr Basil Loftus, retired priest of the Diocese of Leeds now serving in the Highlands of Scotland and contributing a weekly column to the Scottish Catholic Observer, to which I also contribute.]

Pontifical Council for Social Communications
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli (1966/1383); President (Jun 27, 2007); former Undersecretary for the Relations with States (1990-Dec 16, 1995)


Apostolic Chamber
Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo (1954/1287); Chamberlain (Camerlengo) Emeritus

Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
Cardinal Sergio Sebastiano (1958/1318); Prefect Emeritus

Prefecture of the Papal Household
Archbishop James Michael Harvey (1976/1500); Prefect (Feb 7, 1998)

Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See
Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti (1949/not available); President Emeritus

Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan (1957/1311); President Emeritus

Synod of Bishops
Archbishop Nikola Eterović (1977/1507); Secretary General (Feb 11, 2004)

Governatorate of Vatican City State
Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Giuseppe Bertello (1967/1390)(Oct 1, 1942); President (Oct 1, 2011; appointed on his 69th birthday)

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo (1968/1403) (Jan 3, 1935); President Emeritus; former Secretary for the Relations with States (Oct 7, 2003-Sep 15, 2006)

Major Basilicas
Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Santos Abril y Castelló (1963/1537)(Sep 21, 1935); Archpriest of the Basilica of St Mary Major (Nov 21, 2011)

Scottish Notes

(1) The Prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Michael Harvey, gained his doctorate in canon law under the supervision of Fr Clarence Gallagher SJ, Rector Emeritus of the Pontical Oriental Institute. Fr Clarence is a native of Mossend, Bellshil and was educated at the Holy Family Primary School and Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell (my own alma mater).

(2) Archbishop Luciano Suriani (Secretariat of State) was an academia classmate (Class of 1986) of Msgr Peter Magee, President of the Scottish National Tribunal and my hope as next Archbishop of Glasgow.

(3) Cardinal-elect Manuel Monteiro de Castro (Major Penitentiary) and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata (Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue) were academia classmates (Class of 1965) of Msgr Basil Loftus, retired priest of the Diocese of Leeds, now a contributor to the Scottish Catholic Observer (as opposed to Observant).

General Notes

(1) HE Paolo Cardinal Sardi, Vice-Chamberlain Emeritus of the Apostolic Chamber, was appointed an official of the Secretariat of State on December 10, 1996, at the same time being accorded the archiepiscopal dignity. However, I can find no listing for him as an alumnus of the academia. Salvador Miranda notes of his education: “he entered the Major Seminary in Torino; from October 1954, he studied theology and philosophy at the Pontificial Gregorian University in Rome and obtained a licentiate in theology in 1958; later, he studied canon law at the same university and obtained a doctorate in this discipline in 1963; then, he studied jurisprudence at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.”

No mention of the academia. He then describes his priesthood thus: “Ordained, June 29, 1958. From 1963 he taught moral theology at the Theological Faculty of the diocese of Acqui; and later he taught the same discipline at the Theological Faculty in Turin until 1976, when he was called to the Vatican to work in the Secretariat of State. On July 30, 1978, he was named chaplain of His Holiness. On December 24, 1987, he was named prelate of honour of His Holiness. In 1992, he was appointed vice assessor of the Secretariat of State; and in 1997, he was appointed assessor.”

No mention of a diplomatic career until 1976 and his call to the Vatican.

(2) The papal almoner, Archbishop Félix del Blanco Prieto, is a former diplomat. On May 31, 1991 he was nominated Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to São Tomé and Príncipe and Apostolic Delegate to Angola and was ordained Bishop on July 6 following, being provided to the titular archdiocese of Vannida; in May 1996 he was transferred as Nuncio to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea was added at the end of the following month; in June 2003 he was transferred to Malta and Libya. On July 28, 2007 he was recalled to Rome and given his present assignment. However, he is not listed as an alumnus of the academia.

In 2006, 30 Days (no. 6/7) observed that all the nuncios at that time (there were 102, some covering more than one country) were drawn from the secular clergy except three: the Scalabrinian Silvano Tomasi (UN Geneva), the American Verbite Michael A. Blume (Benin) and the English White Father Michael L. Fitzgerald (Egypt). 30 Days then went on to say that apart from these 3 religious, another 7 nuncios were “also exceptional”. And numbered among them was “the Spaniard Felix del Blanco Prieto (Malta)”. I presume that this means he was not prepared for a diplomatic career at the academia.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Reply to comment

I know I should be able to add a reply to a comment other than by putting it in as a new post, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. So Apologies to Frederick Oakley
"(S)o far from the truth"?

As Rabbie Burns so sagely observed in "A Dream"(1786):

"But facts are chiels that winna ding,
An downa be disputed"

His Eminence José Cardinal Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints celebrated his 80th birthday on the day of the announcement of February's consistory. Therefore, on that day, technically there were 12 vacancies in the College of Cardinal Electors. However, another cardinal, His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, S.D.B., Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, was due to celebrate his 80th birthday before the consistory, on January 13 and so the Holy Father had 13 vacancies to fill.

In fact he nominated 18 new cardinal electors. Thus, on the day of the consistory the limit of 120 will be exceeded by 5.

Pope Benedict took into account the fact that a further 5 cardinal electors will reach the age limit within five months of the consistory. These are on:

8 Mar, Rodolfo Cardinal Quezada Toruño, Archbishop Emeritus of Guatemala;
2 Apr, Edward Michael Cardinal Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of New York;
17 May, Miloslav Cardinal Vlk,  Archbishop Emeritus of Prague, Czech Republic;
14 Jun, Henri Cardinal Schwery, Bishop Emeritus of Sion, Switzerland; and,
26 Jul, James Francis Cardinal Stafford, Major Penitentiary Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary, USA

A further 6 cardinals celebrate that landmark birthday before the year is out. They are, on:

10 Aug, Gaudencio Borbon Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop Emeritus of Manila, Philippines
24 Aug, Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, England
13 Sep, Pedro Cardinal Rubiano Sàenz, Archbishop Emeritus of Bogotá, Colombia
1Nov, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Nigeria
23 Nov, Renato Raffaele Cardinal Martino, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Italy
8 Dec, Eusébio Oscar Cardinal Scheid, S.C.I., Archbishop Emeritus of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Take note especially of the two birthdays in August.

This is all factual, "the truth". What follows is opinion, but it is informed, objective opinion. I have no axe to grind in the matter.

To me it is clear that His Holiness took the view that a line had to be drawn somewhere. He wasn't prepared, as his immediate predecessor was, to simply totally ignore the limit of 120 cardinal electors first established by Pope Paul VI, one of my heroes. (Blessed Pope John Paul II on two occasions had 135 cardinal electors at the end of consistories.)

But why stop in July? Why take into account five months? Surely six months is a more rounded, sensible figure? After all by doing that, by giving himself just a little more leeway, two days short of a full calendar month -- which wouldn't be enough time for a Pope to die, the obsequies to be observed and a conclave to begin; all of which give the college of cardinal electors their raison d'etre -- Pope Benedict would have been able to nominate another two non-curial cardinals. Irrespective of who he would have chosen, he would have had an exact balance in his list between the curia and the rest of the Catholic world: 10 new cardinals from each. Exactly as was the case last time, in November 2010.

However, I think it is obvious that the Pope couldn't have availed himself of the facility to name two more cardinals and NOT have appointed Archbishops Tagle and Nichols. And for a very good reason: they are the metropolitans of the two most important (and, in the former case, largest) red hat sees not yet cardinals and whose predecessors would have attained that landmark birthday within the leeway.

Obviously, Pope Benedict made a conscious decision not to give himself that little more leeway, to create these two heads of red hat sees cardinals. Why?

To point the facts out and then to pose that question has nothing to do with "nastiness" and it has nothing to do with "love", or the lack of it. It is realism. It is a question which begs to be asked for the answer might just be important. There may be lessons to be learned. Not least by Archbishop Nichols. Problem is the Catholic newspapers and magazines aren't going to either ask or attempt to answer that question. Boats must not be rocked. Officially.

If Frederick Oakley or anybody else can come up with a viable alternative explanation as to why the Holy Father only took into account the five months following February; and, why he didn't include Archbishops Tagle and Nichols, I would be only too glad to hear and air it. For, believe it or not, I am an admirer of Archbishop Nichols. I have been introduced to him. Personally, I am simply at a loss to explain his actions referred to at the end of the original post. Most especially, I cannot understand why he made the statement he did about civil recognition of same-sex partnerships.

And I have taken the time and gone to the trouble of checking that he did in fact say what he was quoted as saying.

Humiliation for Archbishop Nichols

Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification.

Right-thinking, fair-minded friends of the Catholic Church in England and Wales can only but hope and pray that on the night of Friday, January 6 — Feast of the Epiphany and the day of the announcement of the list of cardinals to be created on February 18 — that as he knelt at his bedside, rosary beads entwined in hands, head on same hands, eyes grimly shut, his prayers a personal, human and spiritual, struggle, the Holy Spirit came to Archbishop Vincent Nichols’s rescue, dispelling his confusion and hauling him back from the abyss of despair by reminding him of John Donne’s most apposite words.

For make no mistake, this was a humiliation for Archbishop Nichols. And it was meant to be.

Pope Benedict has so far been reluctant to exceed the limit of 120 cardinal electors first stipulated by Pope Paul VI. However, he has twice allowed himself a little leeway. For example, after the last consistory there were in fact 121 cardinal electors but that was only going to be for a few weeks.

This time, because of the need to have a balance in the list of new cardinals between curial prelates and archbishops from around the world, His Holiness has had to allow himself significantly more leeway. There are certain front rank positions within, or associated with, the Vatican which must be filled by a cardinal, or an archbishop who will be raised to that dignity at the first opportunity. These number 22 in all but to fill them requires only 21 men. (The Pope’s Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome is also the archpriest of the Basilica of St John Lateran.)

On the day of the announcement, eight of these posts were held by archbishops. In addition, there were two Archbishop Presidents of Pontifical Councils who merited elevation. They were passed over last time as there would have been just too many Italians on the list. These are Archbishops Antonio Mario Veglio (No 4 on the list) and Francesco Coccopalmerio (No 6). It would simply have been unfair, and have been seen to be unfair, if they were passed over again.

So, eight places in the College of Cardinal Electors HAD to go to the curia and a further two, in fairness, ought to; and did. But how many places were available?

José Cardinal Saraiva Martins, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, celebrated his 80th birthday on the day of the announcement and Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, was due to celebrate his one week later, on January 13. This meant that the roll of the cardinal electors was down to 107. Thus His Holiness could order 13 ponceau red birettas from the brothers Gammarelli, Filippo and Annibale.

But he ordered 18.

Having concluded that a list comprised of ten Vatican prelates and only three from the world’s dioceses was too imbalanced in favour of the curia, Pope Benedict took into account the fact that five cardinals were due to celebrate their 80th birthdays during the five calendar months following the consistory; one in each month, the last on July 26 (the American Cardinal Stafford).

Significantly, by doing so he was able to include the last two cardinal electors named in the list, Archbishops Dolan (New York) and Duka (Prague) (not to be confused with Dukla Prague!).

But why five months? Why not six? Half a year is better than five twelfths. And it would make for a sensible and simple rule: The maximum number of 120 cardinal electors can be temporarily exceeded by the Pope taking into account those cardinals who will attain their 80th birthday in the six calendar months following the month in which a consistory is held.

What would have been the effect this time? His Holiness would have had another two birettas to go round. Cardinals Rosales (Manila) and Murphy-O’Connor will both be 80 in August (10 and 24 respectively). Thus he would have been free to elevate both of their successors, respectively Archbishop Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle and Archbishop Nichols. After all, theirs are the two most important “red hat” sees outside of Italy which currently do not have a cardinal archbishop.

In addition, this would have brought a numerical balance to the list: ten curial and ten diocesan cardinals-elect. What could be, or, rather, look, fairer than that? So why didn’t it happen? Why did His Holiness not avail himself of the opportunity of utilising two days short of one month?

Contrary to what some have suggested, there is absolutely no problem with Archbishop Tagle. It may, or may not, have been the case that it was only after they had nominated him as Archbishop that the members of the Congregation for Bishops found out about his connection to the Bologna School and the hermeneutic of disruption. Personally, I find that hard to believe, while granting that it may have been the case for some less theologically adept members, like Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor. But could anyone seriously suggest that the Pope himself was unaware of it?

In the 1990s, as Cardinal Prefect of the Suprema, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger appointed Fr Tagle to the International Theological Commission. Are we expected to take seriously any suggestion that he did so ignorant of what is being portrayed in some quarters as a sort of youthful indiscretion? Moreover, when any priest or prelate is being considered for promotion to, or within, the episcopacy, the CDF have to sign off on it precisely because they are supposed to know about such things as who belongs to this or that theological school; who has written this or that contentious, or otherwise, book, or article, or thesis. And in 2001 Cardinal Ratzinger signed off on the nomination of Fr Tagle for the See of Imus, suffragan of Manila.

No, there was no problem with Archbishop Tagle.

Archbishop Nichols was another matter altogether. Archbishop Tagle was sacrificed, as it were, to make Archbishop Nichols’s omission from the list appear less brutal.

Of course, being Scottish I couldn’t possibly speculate on the reasons behind all this. But rumours of the Cardinal Vaughan fiasco, the apparent acceptance of civil same-sex partnerships and the less than helpful, arguably obstructionist, attitude to the Ordinariate have percolated north of the border.

And of a certainty they have been heard in the Apostolic Palace. Maybe that is why Archbishop Nichols is hopping about, smoking gun in hand, smouldering hole in foot, and no ponceau red biretta on head, or on order.