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.