Of titles, deaconries and suburbican sees

Still almost a month before the  consistory of 20 November, an interesting question remains, and it probably won’t be answered until the very day of the consistory. What title churches will the new cardinals be receiving?

The College of Cardinals has its origin in the ecclesiastical structure of ancient Rome. Historically, cardinals were the deacons and priests of parishes in the old city, or bishops of small nearby dioceses, the so-called suburbican sees. Nowadays, cardinals come from all over the world, and if they don’t have some function within the curia, they usually do not live in Rome. But still new cardinals go and take possession of their title churches in or near Rome, a tradition that, not unlike the titular sees of bishops who are not ordinaries, firmly ties past and present together.

There are 33 title churches available for the 24 new cardinals who can either become cardinal priests or cardinal deacons. Cardinal priests are usually diocesan (arch)bishops somewhere, while cardinal deacons have a role in the curia. For example, Archbishops Mazombwe (Lusaka), Wuerl (Washington), Monsengwo Pasinya (Kinshasa) and Nycz (Warsaw) will be cardinal priests, and Archbishops Amato, Sarah, Burke and Koch will be cardinal deacons.

The Basilica of San Clemente is the title church of Cardinal Simonis, who is a cardinal priest

Father Z has more information.


Red Dawn

Over the past days the rumours that Pope Benedict XVI would be calling a consistory for the Feast of Christ the King (20 November) were on a significant increase, and today they were proved true. At the end of his general audience of today, which ended only a few minutes ago, the Holy Father read the list of 24 cardinals-designate, who will receive the red hat next month. Some designates are the heads of important archdioceses, others have valuable roles in the Roman curia, and there are also those who receive the title as a recognition of their work. On the whole, these men reflect Pope Benedict’s own values and wishes for the future of the Church. It is not unlikely that among these cardinals-designate is his successor.

Here is the list of the 24, in alphabetical order:

  • Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B. (Italian, 72), prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints
  • Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli (Italian, 75), head of the Apostolic Penitentiary
  • Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci (Italian, 93), Emeritus director of the Sistine Chapel choir
  • Monsignor Walter Brandmuller (German, 81), Emeritus president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences
  • Archbishop Raymond Burke (American, 62), head of the Apostolic Signatura
  • Archbishop Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga (Ecuadorean, 76), Emeritus Archbishop of Quito
  • Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis (Brazilian, 73), Archbishop of Aparecida
  • Archbishop Velasio De Paolis (Italian, 75), president of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
  • Archbishop José Manuel Estepa Llaurens (Spanish, 84), Emeritus military ordinary of Spain
  • Archbishop Kurt Koch (Swiss, 60), president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
  • Archbishop Medardo Joseph Mazombwe (Zambian, 79), Emeritus Archbishop of Lusaka
  • Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (Congolese, 71), Archbishop of Kinshasa
  • Archbishop Francesco Monterisi (Italian, 76), archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
  • Patriarch Antonios Naguib (Egypt, 75), patriarch of Alexandria
  • Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz (Polish, 60), Archbishop of Warsaw
  • Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don (Sri Lankan, 62), Archbishop of Colombo
  • Archbishop Reinhard Marx (German, 57), Archbishop of Munich and Freising
  • Archbishop Mauro Piacenza (Italian, 66), prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
  • Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi (Italian, 68), president of the Pontifical Council for Culture
  • Archbishop Paolo Romeo (Italian, 72), Archbishop of Palermo
  • Archbishop Robert Sarah (Guinean, 65), president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”
  • Archbishop Paolo Sardi (Italian, 76), pro-patron of the Knights of Malta
  • Archbishop Elio Sgreccia (Italian, 82), Emeritus president of the Pontifical Academy for Life
  • Archbishop Donald Wuerl (American, 69), Archbishop of Washington
Cardinal-designate Raymond L. Burke

There are some very recent appointments to the curia among these 24, such as Archbishops Koch, Piacenza and Sarah, who have all taken over from their predecessors in the last few months or even weeks. Others are not surprising at all. Archbishops Burke, Ranjith, Monsengwo Pasinya and Amato were all generally expected to become cardinals.

The Italian contingent is relatively large, which is somewhat unusual considering the trend of the past years of non-Italians  being appointed heads of councils and congregations. The non-western designates are again few in number. Personally, I had expected that to be different. Especially Asia has a number of major archdioceses which could be headed by a cardinal. Maybe next time.

Archbishop Wim Eijk, not a cardinal yet

As for the Low Countries, neither Archbishop Eijk of Utrecht nor Léonard of Brussels is on the list. Undoubtedly various people (bitter bloggers among them) will point out that this is due to them being out of favour with Rome. I expect the explanation is far simpler: both archdioceses still have active electors – Cardinals Simonis and Danneels respectively – and Pope Benedict XVI generally tends not to create new cardinals in a diocese or Church province that already has a cardinal able to participate in a conclave. Cardinal Simonis won’t turn 80 until November of next year, and Danneels won’t until June of 2013.

All the cardinals designate are now theoretically papabile, meaning they could be chosen to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, but not all of them can participate in a conclave. Bartolucci, Brandmuller, Estepa Llaurens and Sgreccia  are all over 80, and so they can’t vote. They could conceivably still be elected by their brother cardinals, but the chances of that are slim indeed.

Ouellet to the Congregation for Bishops

Against the background of ongoing rumours why George Cardinal Pell did not accept an appointment as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops – health issues or opposition from certain bishops? – Andrea Tornielli (usually a very reliable source for such things) brings the news that Marc Cardinal Ouellet has been appointed in his stead. Currently the archbishop of Québec, Cardinal Ouellet has been attacked in Canadian media recently for explaining the Catholic teachings on abortion and other issues. If anything, that shows that the cardinal is a steadfast man who knows his business.

As prefect he will be the head of the office which oversees the selection of new bishops. While it is the pope who appoints bishops, the Congregation does the preparatory work: enquiring at the dioceses in question, investigation the background and behaviour of the proposed candidates and advising the pope as to the men best suited to the job. The prefect of the Congregation for Bishops has therefore a fairly important role: his work will affect many Catholics across the world. It is he who decides who will be the local shepherd of many thousands of people.

Cardinal Ouellet, who has been secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (ecumenical experience!) before taking the see of Québec, was elevated to the cardinalate in 2003. The 66-year-old native of Canada will be the sixth prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, which has existed in its current form since 1965. He will succeed Giovanni Cardinal Re.

Traditionally the nine congregations of the Catholic Church, which are comparable to government ministries, have mostly been headed by Italians. With the appointment of Cardinal Ouellet, only the Congregation for the Causes of Saints still has an Italian prefect (Archbishop Angelo Amato). Pope Benedict XVI, and before him Pope John Paul II too, have been gradually working to prioritise certain parts of the world, not least the English-speaking part, in the upper echelons of the Church. With the vast majority of Catholics living in areas outside Europe, this seems not only logical, but also necessary. Whoever is appointed to a post in the Vatican, takes his background with him, as well as knowledge about the Church in the place where he is from. Although the Catholic Church is a world church, it is not a uniform behemoth. The variety and differences within her need to be known and taken into account in the day-to-day running of the various congregations and departments.

With Cardinal Ouellet at the helm, the current new harvest of bishops in North America, the American midwest especially, may turn out to be a herald of things to come in the wider world.

Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko

While Corpus Christi was celebrated in many countries yesterday, the Catholics of Poland had something else on their minds. In Warsaw, Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, beatified Father Jerzy Popiełuszko (1947-1984).

A parish priest in Warsaw, Blessed Jerzy was appointed to minister especially to the steel workers in the Polish capital who, at that time, were involved in demonstrations and strikes against the government. Himself a staunch anti-Communist, Blessed Jerzy inspired people in his sermons and as such became quite popular, despite his unassuming nature.

The Polish secret service did not like this, of course, and certainly not when Radio Free Europe starting broadcasting his sermons. In 1983 he was arrested on fabricated evidence, but intervention from fellow clergy led to his release and a general amnesty. In October 1984 he survived a car accident that was set up to kill him, but six days later he was kidnapped and murdered by three Security Police officers. On October 30 1984, his body was discovered in the Vistula Water Reservoir near Włocławek.

The gruesome murder of the non-violent and popular priest sparked an uproar in Poland. More than 250,000 people attended his funeral. His grave at the church where he worked became a site of prayer and pilgrimage.

Yesterday, Fr. Jerzy joined the ranks of the recognised Blesseds. The fast track of the beatification process meant, rather remarkably, that Blessed Jerzy’s 100-year-old mother was able to attend the ceremony.

Blessed Jerzy, whose feast day falls on 19 October, the day of his death, is a symbol of the witness of the truth against oppression. He was murdered for his witnessing of Christ among the people who needed him, but never surrendered to threats from outside. We can now call on him, ask him to offer prayers for us, to intercede, when we are faced with misunderstanding, animosity, even violence for standing up for others and our faith.

Cardinals according to John Allen

In the National Catholic Reporter, John L. Allen shines his light on future cardinals. He writes and creates the following list:

• Archbishop Paolo Romeo, Palermo, Italy
• Archbishop Giuseppe Bettori, Florence, Italy
• Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, Brussels, Belgium
• Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Westminster, Great Britain
• Archbishop Timothy Dolan, New York
• Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Washington, D.C.
• Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, Rio de Janiero, Brazil
• Archbishop Braulio Rodríguez Plaza, Toledo, Spain
• Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra, Valencia, Spain
• Archbishop Juan José Asenjo Pelegrina, Seville, Spain
• Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Bangkok, Thailand
• Archbishop Joseph Ngô Quang Kiêt, Ha Noi, Vietnam
• Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
• Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz, Warsaw, Poland
Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk, Utrecht, The Netherlands
• Archbishop Reinhard Marx, Munich and Freising, Germany

There’s also a slew of Vatican officials in a holding pattern to join the College of Cardinals, including:

• Archbishop Angelo Amato, Congregation for the Causes of Saints
• Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
• Archbishop Raymond Burke, Apostolic Signatura
• Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, Apostolic Penitentiary
• Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, Pontifical Council for Culture
• Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples
• Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers
• Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls

There is not much overlap with the list I created here, although that can be said to be due to the fact that I took the next two years in consideration, while Allen focusses solely on this year. Still, Archbishop Eijk is among them, as is the new archbishop of Brussels, Msgr. Léonard, and he mentions the possibility of new cardinals in African sees, like I did when I pondered the possibility of a new cardinal from Cameroon.

Allen’s list is a very western affair, with many cardinals from Europe or North America. Traditionally, Europe is the place where important members of the curia come from, of course, so perhaps the lack of African and Asian prelates is due to the fact that the current cardinals from there are still so relatively new (elevated by Pope John Paul II) that they’re not too close to retirement yet.

I have some reservations about Allen’s list, though. Both archbishops Eijk and Léonard are new enough that they could be kept waiting a while (Léonard is not even installed as archbishop yet), and the same may be said for Archbishops Nichols, Dolan, Marx and Burke. However, we will undoubtedly see in due time, quite possibly somewhere before the end of the year.