Francis’ first class – consistory called for February

cardinalsAfter a few days of rumours, it was confirmed today: Francis’ first class of cardinals is to be created on 22 February 2014, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. This places it a year and four days after Pope Benedict XVI next-to-last consistory which saw, among others, the creation of Cardinal Wim Eijk.

As February 2014 dawns, there will be 106 electors in the College of Cardinals, members who can vote in a conclave and also hold seats in the various dicasteries of the Curia. That is 14 below the flexible maximum number of 120, so Pope Francis could create as many as 14 new voting cardinals, which is a pretty standard number for a consistory. Added to that me be a number of non-voting cardinals, as Benedict XVI did in five of his six consistories. Likely candidates seem to be Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Archbishop Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family; and of course Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State.

But that’s just in the Curia. As to what diocesan bishops and archbishops may be created cardinals, the field seems to be wide open. Pope Francis most likely does not feel bound by the traditional cardinalatial sees, but much more by the person of a future cardinal. Coupled with his focus on the poor, we should perhaps not be surprised if a fair number of the new cardinals come from South America, Africa and Asia.

léonardIn the Low Countries, the eyes are of course on Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, the great archbishop of Brussels. If elevated to the College of Cardinals, he would be the eight in a line of cardinals which began with Cardinal Engelbert Sterckx, created by Pope Gregory XVI in 1838.

Regarding other parts of the globe, the great guessing game is once more gearing up, and here is my tentative attempt at participating in it. The Holy Father may wish to focus  especially on the aforementioned three continents of South America, Africa and Asia (the latter two notoriously underrepresented in the College of Cardinals which, it must be said, is not intended to be a representative body. For Pope Francis however, representation may be desirable) as part of the continuing reform of both the College of Cardinals and the Roman Curia. But, as far as the latter is concerned, the most effective first step is probably found in the field of appointments, and not in new cardinals yet.

Photo credit: [1] Michael Kappeler/DPA/Abaca Press/MCT


4 thoughts on “Francis’ first class – consistory called for February”

  1. May I first of all apologise for this being rather long? I agree with the names you have suggested but you have missed out two definite cardinals in curia to be.

    Firstly, Jean-Louis Bruguès OP was appointed Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives and Librarian of the Vatican Library on June 26, 2012. Going back to 1700, only 4 prelates appointed to head the Secret Archives were not yet Cardinals. All were created Cardinal at the next consistory (but see note below).

    Secondly, when he returned to the Sistine Chapel from the Room of Tears and received the homage of the cardinal electors, the newly elected Pope Francis then received the homage of the four prelates summoned after the canonical election had been accepted: the Secretary of the Conclave, the Master of the Papal Liturgical Ceremonies and the two Assistant Masters of Ceremonies. As the Secretary, Archbishop Lorenzzo Baldisseri, knelt Pope Francis placed on his head the scarlet cardinal’s zucchetto of which, naturally, he had no further use. Thus he indicated his intention, according to an ancient tradition not always followed in modern times, to reward the Secretary with the Sacred Roman Purple at the first opportunity. (As far as I can determine the last Pope to do this was Good Pope John in 1958. The recipient of papal benefaction was Mgr Alberto di Jorio who had been Secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals since 1947.)

    That His Holiness has not had second thoughts about Archbishop Baldisseri’s elevation — there was some talk afterwards that he hadn’t fully appreciated what he had done — was reinforced not so much when he appointed him as Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, but more when he appointed him in such a way as to emphasise that the Synod was to become core to the way he intended to govern the Universal Church.

    Moreover, three obvious choices from the wider Church are: Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli (66 on November 29) appointed as his own successor in Buenos Aires by Pope Francis; Mgr Orani João Tempesta (63), the Cistercian Archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (His Excellency was appointed on February 27, 2009, and three consistories have come and gone without his having been elevated because his predecessor, Eusébio Oscar Cardinal Scheid, was still a Cardinal Elector; he was 80 last December); Mgr Cesare Nosiglia (69) was appointed Archbishop of Turin on October 11, 2010 (and has also been excluded from three consistories under Papa Ratzinger’s policy on succession; his predecessor, Severino Cardinal Poletto, turned 80 in March); Archbishop Francesco Moraglia was appointed Patriarch of Venice on January 31, 2012 (Angelo Cardinal Scola was translated to Milan seven months earlier).

    NOTE: Unless Pope Francis decides otherwise, there are 21 positions within the Roman Curia and institutions related to it which are reserved to Cardinals or to Archbishops who will be created Cardinal at the first opportunity (although Pope Benedict himself ignored this at his mini-consistory of last November when he did not create Cardinal Archbishops Müller and Bruguès). These are:

    The Secretary of the Secretariat of State;

    The Prefects of the nine Congregations;

    The heads of two of the three Tribunals, the Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura;

    The Presidents of the: Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See; Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; the Governatorate of Vatican City State, who is also President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State;

    The Librarian of the Vatican Library and Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives (now a combined post);

    The Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and;

    The Archpriests of the Four Patriarchal Basilicas: St John Lateran (which Archpriest is also the Pope’s Cardinal Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome); St Mary Major; St Paul’s Outside the Walls, and; St Peter’s.

    1. Thanks for your reply! All great suggestions, and I certainly agree with most of them. But I do think we’ll have to wait and see if they’ll come to pass. It all depends on what Pope Francis wants the Curia to be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s