Home > Archives > 10 - 2007 > All the shades of the purple
from issue no. 10 - 2007

How the Sacred College changes with the new nominations

All the shades of the purple

A statistical analysis of the second Consistory of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. The ratio between the number of cardinals and that of the faithful and priests in the countries most represented in the Senate of the Pope. There’s no lack of surprises

by Gianni Cardinale

Benedict XVI during the Consistory of 24 March 2006

Benedict XVI during the Consistory of 24 March 2006

On 17 October, at the end of the customary Wednesday general audience, Benedict XVI announced for 24 November, eve of the feast of Jesus Christ King of the Universe, the second Consistory of his pontificate for the nomination of 23 new cardinals, 18 of whom electors in an eventual conclave and 5 over eighty years old.
In making the announcement the Pope stated that he would be surpassing by one the maximum of 120 “voting” cardinals established by Paul VI, inasmuch as on the 24 November 17 free places among the electors of the Sacred College were foreseen. But the unexpected death of 77 year-old Japanese Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao in Tokyo on 8 November, cancelled the foreseen extra.
Of the 18 new cardinal electors from the new Consistory, 7 are from the Curia, and they are: the Argentine Leonardo Sandri, 64 years old, prefect since last June of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; the American John Patrick Foley, 72 years old, pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem; the Piedmontese Giovanni Lajolo, 72 years old, president of the Papal Commission and the Governorship of the Vatican City State since September 2006; the German Paul Joseph Cordes, 73 years old, president of the Papal Council “Cor Unum”, since 1995; the Tuscan Angelo Comastri, 64 years old, coadjutor from February 2005 and archpriest since October 2006 of the Vatican Basilica; the Pole Stanislaw Rylko, 62 years old, president of the Papal Council for the Laity since 2003; from Campania Raffaele Farina, 74 years old, a Salesian, archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church since last June. The new residential cardinals number 11 instead, and they are: Agustín García-Gasco Vicente, 76 years old, archbishop of Valencia (Spain) since 1992; Sean Baptist Brady, 68 years old, coadjutor from 1995 and archbishop of Armagh (Ireland) since 1996; Lluís Martínez Sistach, 70 years old, archbishop of Barcelona (Spain) since 2004; André Vingt-Trois, 65 years old, archbishop of Paris (France) since February 2005; Angelo Bagnasco, 64 years old, archbishop of Genoa (Italy) since 2006; Théodore-Adrien Sarr, 71 years old, archbishop of Dakar (Senegal) since 2000; Oswald Gracias, 63 years old, archbishop of Bombay (India) since 2006; Francisco Robles Ortega, 58 years old, archbishop of Monterrey (Mexico) since 2003; Daniel N. DiNardo, 58 years old, coadjutor from 2004 and archbishop of Galveston-Houston (USA) since 2006; Odilo Pedro Scherer, 58 years old, archbishop of São Paulo (Brazil) since last March; John Njue, 63 years old, archbishop of Nairobi (Kenya) since 6 October last.
Benedict XVI has also decided to elevate to the dignity of cardinal three other prelates and two meritorious ecclesiastics, particularly deserving for their commitment to the service of the Church, who are over 80, and they are: Emmanuel III Delly, 80 years old, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldees since 2003; Giovanni Coppa, 82 years old, apostolic nuncio to Prague from 1990 to 2001; Estanislao Esteban Karlic, 81 years old, Archbishop of Paraná (Argentina) from 1986 to 2003; the Aragonese Jesuit Urbano Navarrete, 87 years old, former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University; and the Tuscan Franciscan Umberto Betti, 85 years old, former rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. The Pope also revealed that he would have liked to create cardinal the 93 year-old Ignacy Jez, bishop of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg in Poland from 1972 to 1992, but he died on 16 October, the day before the announcement of the Consistory.
With the passing of Hamao and the death of Venezuelan Salesian Cardinal Rosalio José Castillo Lara, 85 years old, on 16 October, the Sacred College after the Consistory of 24 November is composed of 201 cardinals of whom 120 electors. Of the latter exactly half (60) are European, 21 Latin American, 16 North American, 12 Asian, 9 African, 2 from Oceania. As for the single national groups, the largest remains that of Italy with 21 cardinal electors (of whom 5 from Lombardy, 4 from Piedmont and 3 from Campania); then comes that of the US (13); those of France, Germany and Spain (6 each); those of Brazil, Mexico and Poland (4 each) and those of Canada, Colombia and India (3 each).
«The new cardinals», the Pope said in announcing the Consistory, «come from various parts of the world. In their ranks the universality of the Church is well reflected...». To tell the truth, however, there was no lack of those who pointed out a certain disproportion, in some cases, between the number of Catholic faithful present in the single nations and the respective representation in the Sacred College. Particularly mentioned were, on the one hand, the cases of Italy (“as many as” 21 cardinals for 56 million Catholics), of the United States (“as many as” 13 cardinals for approximately 67 million faithful) and of Germany (“as many as” 6 cardinals for less than 26 million Catholics) and, on the other, the cases of Brazil (“only” 4 cardinals for more than 155 million faithful), Mexico (“only” 4 cardinals for more than 95 million faithful) or the Philippines (“only” 2 cardinals for more than 69 million faithful). Apart from the hangover of history, that also has its influence on the nomination of cardinals, reading the statistical data reported on this page, one may nevertheless notice that the specific weight of the above-mentioned countries within the Sacred College is less perhaps unbalanced than might at first sight appear. If in fact the number of the cardinals is compared not with the number of the faithful but with that of the bishops and, even more, with that of the priests, one sees, for example, that India (1 cardinal to 7,602 priests) or Poland (1 to 7,206) are more “disadvantaged” than Brazil (1 to 4,521 priests). Just as the difference does not turn out to be much between Spain (1 cardinal to 4,350 priests) Brazil and the Philippines (1 to 4,093). Or between the US (1 cardinal to 3,484 priests), France (1 to 3,591) and Mexico (1 to 3,767). It should, however, be said that in this special classification Italy (1 cardinal to 2,441 priests) and Germany (1 to 3,039) remain “privileged”.
Concluding the announcement of the new Consistory Benedict XVI said: «There would be other people, very dear to me, who for their devotion to the service of the Church would very well deserve to be elevated to the dignity of cardinal. I hope to have in future the opportunity to testify, in this way also, my esteem and my affection to them and the countries to which they belong». In fact the media pointed to the failure to grant the purple to holders of dioceses traditionally the residences of cardinals such as Baltimore, Palermo, Toronto and Warsaw (all dioceses, however, where an emeritus younger than eighty is still living). For a new Consistory, however, we shall probably have to wait for a while: two years, if not three. In 2008, in fact, only 3 cardinals will reach 80 (Friedrich Wetter, emeritus of Munich, 20 February; Giacomo Biffi, emeritus of Bologna, 13 June; Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi, emeritus of Tokyo, 17 June). In 2009 there will be 4 and 11 in 2010.

Countries with more than one cardinal elector
Italy 21
USA 13
France, Germany and Spain 6
Brazil, Mexico and Poland 4
Canada, Colombia and India 3
Argentina, the Philippines, Great Britain, Nigeria and Portugal 2

Countries with the largest Catholic Populations
Brazil 155.628
Mexico 95.525
Philippines 69.308
USA 66.893
Italy 56.383
France 46.520
Spain 40.950
Colombia 40.379
Poland 36.696
Argentina 35.408
D.R. Congo 31.199
Germany 25.997

Countries with most bishops
Italy 507
USA 438
Brazil 430
India 198
France 184
Mexico 152
Spain 132
Canada 132
Poland 131
Philippines 120
Colombia 114
Germany 105

Countries with most priests (diocesan and religious)
Italy 51.262
USA 45.292
Poland 28.826
Spain 26.103
India 22.807
France 21.551
Germany 18.239
Brazil 18.087
Mexico 15.069
Canada 8.686
Colombia 8.288
Philippines 8.187

* The data for tables is drawn from the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2005, Lev, 2007

Italiano Español Français Deutsch Português