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Three weeks before the first Francis-style consistory, a look at exactly what titles the new cardinals may be receiving. As always, it’s a guessing game, but an interesting one, which sheds a light on how the cardinals of the world Church are a part of the local Church of Rome, symbolising their unity with the See of Peter.
There will be 19 new cardinals, and only four of these will be Cardinal-Deacons, as they work in the Roman Curia. They are Cardinals-designate Pietro Parolin, Lorenzo Baldisseri, Gerhard Müller and Beniamino Stella. These four can be granted one of nine available Cardinal Deaconries (that is assuming Pope Francis won’t elevate any new ones, as he is free to do, even when there are existing deaconries vacant). They are:
Sant’Agnese in Agone
- Sant’Anselmo all’Aventino
- Sant’Antonio di Padova a Circonvallazione Appia
- San Giovanni Battista Decollato
- Santa Maria della Scalia
- Santa Maria in Cosmedin
- San Teodoro
- Santi Cosma e Damiano
- Santissimi Nomi di Gesù e Maria in Via Lata
Most of these deaconries fell vacant only recently, with the exception of San Teodoro (since 2000), San Giovanni Battista Decollato (since 1988) and Santa Maria in Cosmedin (since 1967) (pictured). Assigning these three would be high time, then. San Teodoro, however, is used by the Greek Orthodox community in Rome, after Pope John Paul II granted them its use in 2000. Keeping this deaconry vacant would be a sign of good will that Pope Francis may well want to to extend.
The 15 other cardinals-designate will be Cardinal-Priests as they are ordinaries of dioceses, although three of them are retired. There are, however, only 13 Cardinal Titles available, so Pope Francis will either create some new ones, or (temporarily) elevate a few Cardinal-Deaconries to Titles. Below is the list:
- Santa Cecilia
- San Crisogono
- Sant’Emerenziana a Tor Fiorenza
- San Gioacchino ai Prati di Castello
- San Giuseppe all’Aurelio
- Sante Maria della Salute a Primavalle
- Santa Maria in Trastevere
- Santa Maria Madre della Provvidenza a Monte Verde
- Santa Maria “Regina Mundi” a Torre Spaccata
- Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino
- San Roberto Bellarmino
- Santissimo Redentore a Valmelaina
- Santissimo Redentore e Sant’Alfonso in Via Merulana
First of all, this list contains Pope Francis’ own Cardinal Title of San Roberto Bellarmino (pictured), which he held until his election to the papacy. Maybe he’ll choose to keep to the pattern of that title being held by South American prelates, and he could even grant it to his own successor in Buenos Aires, Mario Poli. All these titles fell vacant in the past four years, so none is really in need of being filled immediately (if titles can ever be, of course). San Crisogono and Santa Maria in Trastevere are two of the oldest titles, dating back to the second century.
Originally the churches of the priests of Rome, and later those of the priests and deacons of Rome, and the bishops of the surrounding dioceses, who could elect the Pope, Cardinal Titles and Cardinal Deaconries today are largely ceremonial. The cardinals play no role in the daily affairs of their churches, although their coats of arms and names are usually present in the church somewhere. Some cardinals may even support their church financially or offer Mass in them when in Rome. Symbolically, the cardinals are a part of the Church’s foundation around Saint Peter in Rome, working with his successor in leading the Church.
Last week, I tried to predict which title churches and deaconries the new cardinals would be getting. While much was guesswork, I did succeed in making a few reasonable guesses: Sant’ Atanasio might go to Cardinal Muresan or Cardinal Alencherry; Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario to Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal Collins; San Gioacchino ai Prati di Castello to Cardinal Eijk; San Bernardo alle Terme to Cardinal Alencherry; San Giuseppe all’ Aurelio to Cardinal Woelki; San Gerardo Maiella to Cardinal Duka; Santissimo Redentore e Sant’ Alfonso in Via Merulana to Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal Collins; Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio to Cardinal Ries. I also suggested to San Patrizio would remain vacant and that San Teodoro would go to a cardinal with some link with the Orthodox Churches.
Well, in the end I guessed right three times: Cardinal Allencherry did get San Bernardo alle Terme, Cardinal Dolan got Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario, Cardinal Muresan got Sant’ Atanasio.
Here is the full list of new cardinals with their title churches and deaconries
- Fernando Cardinal Filoni, Cardinal-deacon of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio
- Manuel Cardinal Monteiro de Castro, Cardinal-deacon of San Domenico di Guzman
- Santos Cardinal Abril y Castellò, Cardinal-deacon of San Ponziano
- Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò, Cardinal-deacon of San Cesareo in Palatio
- Giuseppe Cardinal Bertello, Cardinal-deacon of Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia
- Francesco Cardinal Coccopalmerio, Cardinal-deacon of San Giuseppe del Falegnami
- João Cardinal Bráz de Aviz, Cardinal-deacon of Sant’ Elena fuori Porta Prenestina
- Edwin Frederick Cardinal O’Brien, Cardinal-deacon of San Sebastiano al Palatino
- Domenico Cardinal Calcagno, Cardinal-deacon of Santissima Annunciazione della Beata Vergine Maria a Via Ardeatina
- Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi, Cardinal-deacon of Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio
- George Cardinal Alencherry, Cardinal-priest of San Bernardo alle Terme
- Thomas Christopher Cardinal Collins, Cardinal-priest of San Patrizio
- Dominik Cardinal Duka, Cardinal-priest of Santi Marcellino e Pietro
- Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk, Cardinal-priest of San Callisto
- Giuseppe Cardinal Betori, Cardinal-priest of San Marcello
- Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal-priest of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario
- Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki, Cardinal-priest of San Giovanni Maria Vianney
- John Cardinal Tong Hon, Cardinal-priest of Regina Apostolorum
- Lucian Cardinal Muresan, Cardinal-priest of Sant’ Atanasio
- Julien Cardinal Ries, Cardinal-deacon of San Antonio de Padova a Circonvallazione Appia
- Prosper Cardinal Grech, Cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria Goretti
- Karl Josef Cardinal Becker, Cardinal-deacon of San Giuliano Martire
As you will have noticed when comparing this list to the one in my previous post, there are five new deaconries and one new title church on the list. The Holy Father is free to create and abolish such churches as he sees fit, of course, but it’s interesting to wonder why some titles remain vacant as new ones are created.
Cardinal Eijk’s title church is San Callisto, located in Trastevere. The church itself dates from the 17th century, although there has been a church dedicated to Saint Pope Callistus I since the 8th century. The holy pope himself reigned in the 3rd century and was martyred and buried on the site where his church now stands. As cardinal-priest of this church, Cardinal Eijk succeeds Corrado Cardinal Ursi, the former archbishop of Naples who died in 2003. The later Popes Pius VII (pope from 1800 to 1823) and Gregory XVI (1831 to 1846) also held this title church.
It is a fairly small church, as Roman churches go, with a single aisle and chapels on either side.
In essence, a cardinal will have little to do with his title church or deaconry, although some are tasked with the financial upkeep of their assigned church or deaconry. All such churches, though, will prominently feature the coat of arms of their cardinal-protector on the facade.
A week from now, the Catholic Church will gain 21 or 22* new cardinals, and they in turn will each get a cardinal title or a cardinal deaconry. In an earlier blog I explained that cardinals who are ordinaries of a diocese will usually be made cardinal priests with a title church, while cardinals in the curia will be cardinal deacons with a deaconry. But we won’t know which cardinal will receive which title or deaconry until the actual consistory, when they’ll receive them together with the ring and the red biretta.
But all of the above certainly does not mean we can’t guess, of course…
Ten of the new cardinals will be cardinal priests. They are the heads of major (arch)dioceses and, in one case, the archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Cardinals-designate Santos Abril y Castelló, George Alencherry, Thomas Collins, Dominik Duka, Wim Eijk, Giuseppe Betori, Timothy Dolan, Rainer Woelki, John Tong Hon and Lucian Muresan will receive one of the following 13 title churches, listed in the order in which they became vacant.
- Sant’ Atanasio. Entrusted since 1872 to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, a fact that may well be reflected in the choice of cardinal-protector. Cardinals-designates Alencherry and Muresan seem likely, as they are both archbishop in a non-Roman rite Church. Saint’ Atanasio has been vacant since 1984.
- San Callisto. Vacant since 2003, but with a long history as a titular church. Past cardinal-protectors came mainly from Italy, but also included cardinals from other European countries.
- Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario has been vacant since 2008. Named for Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of the Americas, a future cardinal-protector may come from either North or South America. Likely, then, are Archbishops Collins or Dolan.
- San Felice da Cantalice e Centocello was only held as a title once before, by South Korean Cardinal Kim Sou-Hwan, who died in early 2009.
- San Patrizio. A national church of Ireland, a future cardinal-protector will very likely come from that island. It will remain vacant for a while longer, then.
- San Giacchino ai Prati di Castello. Previously held by Cardinal Alfrink, one of the mere two previous cardinal-protectors, will this title be given to Archbishop Eijk?
- San Bernardo alle Terme. Another title church with a long history as such. Its edifice and annexed monastery are maintained by the Cistercians, which is no clue to the identity of a future cardinal-protector, since there are no Cistercians in next week’s consistory. The previous cardinal-protector was Cardinal Vithayatil, so his successor as Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabarese Church, Mar George Alencherry, could conceivably be given this title as well. But then again, he may just as likely not.
- San Marcello. A long history of 63 previous cardinal-protectors from all over the world reveals nothing about the identity of its future cardinal-protector.
- San Giuseppe all’ Aurelio is a fairly recently created title church, held by only one cardinal-protector,. He was Berlin’s Cardinal Sterzinsky, so Archbishop Woelki has a decent shot at this.
- San Gerardo Maiella was the title church held only by Cardinal Swiatek, so perhaps another Slavic cardinal will succeed him, in the person of Archbishop Duka.
- “Regina Apostolorum” has been vacant since last July. It’s three past cardinal-protectors have all been Italians, but most of the older title churches have a strong Italian history when it comes to cardinals assigned them.
- Santi Marcellino e Pietro is yet another ancient title church with cardinal-protectors from various nations. It has been vacant since August.
- Santissimo Redentore e Sant’ Alfonso in Via Merulana, vacant since the death of Cardinal Bevilacqua a few weeks ago, has a New World history, having been held by two Americans and a Bolivian cardinal. Collins and Dolan again come into view.
So we can make some educated guesses, but nothing is certain when it comes to the assignment of title churches. The Holy Father is also free to create new titles churches.
The same really goes for cardinal deaconries, to be assigned to cardinal deacons. Of these, there are 11 or 12* on the list of the consistory: Fernando Filoni, Manuel Monteiro de Castro, Antonio Vegliò, Giuseppe Bertello, Francesco Coccopalmerio, João Bráz de Aviz, Edwin O’Brien, Domenico Calcagno, Giuseppe Versaldi, Julien Ries, Prosper Grech ( and possibly Karl Becker). Currently, there are 11 vacant cardinal deaconries, so if the list of names in the previous line is correct, all will be assigned (and a new one may even be created). We must also not forget that the Holy Father will decide to create one or more of the assumed cardinal deacons as cardinal priests instead, or vice versa. Anyway, whatever may happen, let’s take a look at the vacant deaconries:
- Santa Maria in Cosmedin. An ancient basilica that has been vacant since 1967. It has had no less than 64 cardinal deacons that we know of.
- San Giovanni Battista Decollato was ever only the deaconry of one Italian cardinal and has been vacant since 1988.
- San Teodoro is an ancient church which is also used, by papal permission, by the Greek Orthodox community of Rome. Maybe its future cardinal deacon, its first since 2000, will have some link with the Orthodox?
- Santissima Annunciazione della Beata Vergine Maria a Via Ardeatina vacant since 2006, has had a single Italian cardinal deacon.
- Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio has had a single Venezuelan cardinal deacon and has been vacant since 2007.
- Sant’ Elena fuori Porta Prenestina, vacant since 200, has had two cardinal deacons, one from Ghana and one from Canada.
- Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia has been a titular church since 1011, switching several times between a deaconry and a title church. Vacant since 2009, it has been assigned to 35 cardinals.
- San Ponziano is another deaconry which has had a single cardinal deacon. It has been vacant since November of 2010.
- Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio is held by the Salesians and is connected to a boarding school for the arts and industries. One of its two past cardinal deacons was Belgian, so maybe Archbishop Ries will get this title.
- San Cesareo in Palatio, once the title of the future Pope John Paul II. It has been vacant since September.
- San Sebastiano al Palatino has been awaiting a new deacon since the death of Cardinal Foley in December.
The cardinal deaconries are much harder to predict than the title churches of cardinal priests. But the title churches together form a living memory of the rich history of the Church in Rome. As titular priests and deacons of these churches, the new cardinals are part of this history, which is also a history of the Church’s unity with the pope as the visible sign.
* We’ll probably have to wait and see if Fr. Karl Becker is among the new cardinals on the 18th, as reports about his health are conflicting, as is his attendance at the consistory.