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from issue no. 10 - 2010


A Roman Consistory

Of the twenty new cardinal electors ten have posts in Rome. From Amato to Sarah, from Ravasi to Sardi. The list of new cardinals, in the order in which Benedict XVI read the names on October 20 last, and a commentary by Gianni Cardinale, Avvenire’s Vatican expert

by Gianni Cardinale

On 20 October, at the end of his regular Wednesday audience, Benedict XVI announced the third Consistory of his pontificate. The ceremony, scheduled for 20 November, the vigil of the Feast of Christ the King, envisages the creation by the Pope of 24 new cardinals, including four more than eighty years old, and hence without the right to vote in a Conclave. “In the list of new cardinals,” the Pope explained, “the universality of the Church is reflected; in fact, they come from various parts of the world and perform different tasks in the service of the Holy See or in direct contact with the people of God as Fathers and Pastors of particular Churches”. The announced list of new cardinals, who become such only on 20 November, appears at first glance to be characterized by the large number of members of the Curia or similar (10 out of 20 voters) and a large team of Italians (8 voters). In reality, these figures should not stir much surprise. In most cases, these are ex officio creations.

The names of the new cardinals
This is the case of the 72 year-old Salesian Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints since July 2008 (and former number two at the former Holy Office, where for three years he was the closest collaborator of the then Cardinal Ratzinger); 76 year-old Francesco Monterisi, Archpriest of St Paul Outside the Walls since July 2009, and – in the eleven previous years – Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops; 76 year-old Paolo Sardi, Vice-chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, and the Pro-Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta since June 2009; 75 year-old Fortunato Baldelli, Penitentiary Major since June 2009; 62 year-old American Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signet since June 2008; of 75 year-old Scalabrinian Velasio De Paolis, President of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See since 2008; 66 year-old Mauro Piacenza (he becomes the youngest Italian cardinal), Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy since 7 October last. The rules and customs in force provide in fact that all the seven posts mentioned be held by cardinals. The other three members of the Curia chosen by the Pope for his third Consistory are three Presidents of Pontifical Councils: 68 year-old Gianfranco Ravasi, at the head of that for Culture since September 2007; the 60 year-old Swiss Kurt Koch, head of that for the Promotion of Christian Unity since last July, and the 65 year-old Guinean Robert Sarah, President of “Cor Unum” since 7 October. On the basis of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus of 1988, which governs the structure of the Roman Curia, the purple is not expected for the heads of these “second tier” departments. But the later motu proprio, Inde a Pontificatus, which in 1993 combined the Council for Dialogue with non-believers with that for Culture, stated that “the new body will be chaired by a cardinal president”. The department for ecumenism, given its strategic role, has always been headed by a cardinal. As for the promotion of Sarah, it can be interpreted as an honoring of the person and also of the continent that he represents.
One of the particular features of the Consistory certainly lies in the four new African cardinals announced. In fact, along with Sarah, 71 year-old Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; 79 year-old Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, 79, Emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia; and the 75 year-old Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Antonios Naguib, General Speaker at the Synod of the Middle East which was held in October, on 20 November become cardinals.
Of the 10 pastors of local Churches chosen by Benedict XVI, 6 are from countries in the south of the world. In addition to the three Africans mentioned, there are also 76 year-old Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Archbishop Emeritus of Quito, Ecuador; 73 year-old Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil, and President of the CELAM; 63 year-old Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and until June 2009 Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The other four pastors of local Churches are: 72 year-old Paolo Romeo, in Palermo; 70 year-old Donald William Wuerl, in Washington; 60 year-old Kazimierz Nycz, in Warsaw; 57 year-old Reinhard Marx, in Munich. This advantaging of the dioceses of the South of the world was made possible not least because the unwritten rule that the purple is not granted to an archbishop in whose diocese there is already a cardinal emeritus with a right to vote has been applied, without any exception whatsoever, to the 20 November Consistory. This fact effectively took off the list a large number of prelates of Churches traditionally headed by cardinals – for example – Turin and Florence, Toledo and Rio de Janeiro, Brussels and Utrecht, New York and Westminster. Finally the four cardinals over eighty. Elio Sgreccia, one of the world’s leading experts on bioethics, a former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life; the renowned conductor of the Sistine Chapel, Domenico Bartolucci; the great Bavarian historian Walter Brandmüller, former president of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences; and the Spanish Bishop José Manuel Estepa Llaurens, who helped with the drafting of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992.

The statistics
Those are the names. Now let’s see the statistics of the new College of Cardinals as it will be after 20 November. On that date what was once known as the Sacred College will count 203 members. Of these, 121 are voters, one more than the set limit, but that will be re-established no later than 26 January 2011, when the Emeritus of Marseille, Bernard Panafieu, turns eighty. The European voters number 62 (51.2%), at the conclave that elected Pope Ratzinger they were 58 out of 115 (50.4%) and after the death of John Paul I 56 out of 111 (50.5%). A slight increase then, but not sensational. The Italian voters are 25 (20.7%); more than those participating in the conclave of 2005 (20, 17.4%) but less than those in the first Conclave of 1978 (25, 22.5%). The cardinals from Latin America number 21, those from North America 15, Africa 12, 10 from Asia and 1 from Oceania. The United States has the largest group of voters in the College, after Italy. In fact, with two new entries the U.S. cardinals rise to 13, increasingly outstripping France and Spain, who staying at 5, are exceeded by Germany, rising to 6 cardinals, and joined by Brazil, which also now numbers 5 cardinals. Poland comes up to Mexico at 4. As for the regional origin of the Italian cardinals, we see that two Apulians (Amato and Monterisi) enter among the voters of the College; that with Ravasi the Lombards rise to 5, confirming their supremacy; and with Baldelli the Umbrians become 2, as do the Ligurians with Piacenza and the ones from Lazio with De Paolis. With Sardi the Piedmontese rise to 3 (4 if Severino Poletto, the Emeritus of Turin, is counted though he was born in the Veneto) and Sicily will again be represented with Romeo. Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, at 94, remains the only native-born Roman cardinal, though not a voter. Keep in mind, however, that there are another 9 Piedmontese who are over eighty.
With the entry of a Salesian and a Scalabrinian the number of religious rises to 34, including 21 voters. Overall, the Jesuits (8) are first, followed by the Franciscans, and Salesians (6 each). But among voters the sons of Don Bosco remain ahead (5), increasing their lead over the followers of the Saint of Assisi (3) and St Ignatius (2).
With the creation as cardinal of 10 department heads and similar, the presence of the Roman Curia and associates, including the emeriti, now reaches 38 voters, including 16 Italians, 9 from the rest of Europe, 6 Americans, 2 Africans, 3 Latin-Americans, 1 Indian and 1 Canadian. A more than substantial number, but it may dwindle in the medium term, given that in the next two years 6 will reach the age of eighty. That of 20 November will be the third Consistory of the current pontificate. With it, Pope Ratzinger will have created 60 cardinals, including 50 voters (41.3%). In the first five years of his papacy John Paul II held two consistories, creating “only” 32 new cardinals, including 30 voters. In the next two years, then, the current pontiff, if he so wishes, will have room to create new cardinals. In 2011, in fact, 9 cardinals will turn eighty. And in 2012 there will be 13.

The Italian case
Looking more closely at the protocol, rigidly applied to this Consistory, on the basis of which, among others, the current archbishop of Florence and of Turin will not receive the purple, one may recall that since the great Concordat of 1929 the dioceses of Milan, Turin, Venice, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Naples and Palermo have been traditionally headed by cardinals. To this should be added the purple given to the Cardinal Vicar of Rome. The only exception is Cagliari, where the new Cardinal Baggio was sent in 1969, though, four years later, he was promoted within the Roman Curia. These dioceses are historically and ecclesiastically important if not always the largest (in terms of the number of the faithful Brescia and Bergamo come right after Milan, Rome, Turin and Naples; while Bergamo is “weightier” than Genoa and Venice, the latter less populated than twenty other dioceses in the Italian peninsula). Again after 1929, the new archbishops of these dioceses were as a rule created cardinal in the first relevant consistory. And this happened in recent decades, even when their immediate “Emeritus” predecessor was still a cardinal “elector”, i.e. under eighty years old. Such was the case in Bologna with Caffarra and Biffi, with Biffi and Poma, and Poma and Lercaro. In Florence with Antonelli and Piovanelli and with Benelli and Florit. In Turin with Poletto and Saldarini, and with Saldarini and Ballestrero, with Ballestrero and Pellegrino. In Venice with Scola and Cé. In the Consistory of November 2007 this traditional “automatism” ceased and so Romeo, the new archbishop, did not receive the purple since his predecessor De Giorgi was still only 77. In the analogous case of Genoa the circumstances were different: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (then already appointed president of the CEI), the predecessor of the new archbishop Bagnasco, had not retired as emeritus but had moved to Rome because chosen by the Pope as his Secretary of State. As already said – and perhaps also not to further increase the already large number of Italians – this unwritten rule has been applied in extremely rigorous fashion to the Consistory of 20 November. So, in addition to Cesare Nosiglia in Turin (where Cardinal Severino Poletto is 77), the purple has not been conferred on Florence either, where Giuseppe Betori would, at 63, have become the youngest cardinal in Italy, and now will have to wait, given that his predecessor, Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, but still described in the Annuario Pontificio as Archbishop Emeritus of Florence, is 74. A case entirely analogous to that of Florence is that of Toledo. There again, the emeritus, 65 year-old Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, is now in the Roman Curia as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. There again, the current archbishop, 66 year-old Braulio Rodríguez Plaza, has not been included in the list of new cardinals. However, this unwritten rule can have, as we have seen, a certain flexibility. Otherwise Rodríguez, who is older than Cañizares, might become cardinal only at 81... So, in itself, it’s not said that Florence will have to wait six years to have a cardinal archbishop.

The creation of members of the Curia, the story of the over-eighties and a small piece of news
In the next consistory there will be 10 members of the Curia or similar out of 20. Apart from the points already made, to find an analogous precedent we must go back to Paul VI’s second creation of cardinals in 1967. In that case 13 of the 27 birettas conferred were given to heads of department (8) and nuncios (5). Those were different times. Not least because in the pontificate of John Paul II the tradition of automatically rewarding with the purple the titulars of particularly prestigious nunciatures – such as Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin and Washington – virtually disappeared. Now the biretta comes only if the nuncios in question are promoted to posts of cardinal rank in the Curia (the case of Baldelli, called to the Penitentiary from the nunciature of France). Otherwise nothing.
With Ingravescentem aetatem, a motu proprio of 1970, Paul VI established that cardinals lose the right to participate in the Conclave at the age of eighty. Furthermore Pope Montini did not create any honorary cardinal – anyone already over 80 – in his three subsequent consistories (1973, 1976, 1977). Nor did John Paul II in his first Consistory in 1979. The first honorary cardinals were created in his second Consistory of 1983: they were the Latvian archbishop Vaivods and the Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac. Pope John Paul II went on to create another 20. By 20 November Benedict XVI will have already made 12 (although two have already gone to a better life).
The creation of two cardinal archbishops emeritus (Vela Chiriboga in Quito and Mazombwe in Lusaka) under eighty seems without precedent. The reasons that led the Pope to the choice are not yet known. Perhaps some indication will come in the speech the Pope will make during the Consistory. Meanwhile, one may recall that Mazombwe was the second successor to Emmanuel Milingo at the helm of the diocese of the capital of Zambia, and perhaps the sad story of the now defrocked archbishop may have played a role in this nomination. As for the other creation, one may recall that all three predecessors of Vela were made cardinal and that the delicate political situation in Ecuador may have made it opportune to have a cardinal in that Latin American country.

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