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.
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 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
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.
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.
Zenit has an interview with Archbishop Kurt Koch, the new head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In it the archbishop (he was given that personal title upon his appointment – a cardinal’s hat is virtually assured at some later date) talks about why he was appointed and how he sees the future of ecumenism by the Church.
One answer from the interview sums up the differences in ecumenism with the Orthodox and ‘western’ Protestants. Here in western Europe, we’re used to only think of the churches of the Reformation when we consider ecumenism, but on a worldwide scale, the Orthodox churches are far closer partners.
Archbishop Koch: “The churches and ecclesial communities born of the Reformation in Switzerland are a special case in the world of the reformed churches. With the Orthodox, we have a common foundation of faith, but great cultural diversity. Instead, with the churches of the Reformation, the foundation of faith is not so common, but we have the same culture. Because of this, with them, it is a different way of engaging in ecumenism that is not always easy.”
Those two elements – faith and culture – can be tricky. It often seems as if it should not be a such a problem for Protestants and Catholics to grow closer, and that is true when looked at from the cultural point of view. But of course, ecumenism is about faith, first and foremost. It is the less visible but more important element of the two.
Pope Benedict appoint a number of people in significant positions in the Roman curia today. Some were expected and predicted correctly in the media, and some are relatively unknown outside the Vatican. Such a significant change, with more appointments rumoured to be coming later this week, is indicative of the future of this pontificate. The people in the curia have worldwide influence in their respective fields of work, so the appointments are not made casually. Pope Benedict XVI does nothing casually, anyway, so the appointments are just as much a seal of approval for the people involved as it is a way sign for the future.
Bishop Kurt Koch
As predicted, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop if Québec, will become the new head of the Congregation for the Bishops, succeeding Giovanni Cardinal Re, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella will head the new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation. His position as head of the Pontifical Academy for Life will be taken by Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula. The Lateran University has also gotten a new rector, and a new member has been added to the team of pontifical Masters of Ceremonies, headed by Msgr. Guido Marini. Swiss newspapers, in the meantime, are confirming that Bishop Kurt Koch of Basel will go to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, succeeding Walter Cardinal Kasper.
Men to keep an eye on, especially Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop Fisichella and Bishop Koch.
A well-known mainstay of the Roman curia is getting ready to enjoy a well-earned retirement. At 77 years, Walter Cardinal Kasper is already past the age at which bishops and cardinals have to offer to resignation, which is 75. Most of the time, unless health issues demand otherwise, the pope will wait a while before accepting that resignation, as he has in the case of Cardinal Kasper.
Cardinal Kasper was especially visible for the past 11 years because he headed the Vatican office which is in charge of ecumenism with other Christian church communities and other faiths, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In that capacity, I’ve seen him once, during an ecumenical service in Utrecht
Yesterday the famously gap-toothed cardinal gave a press conference in which he looked back on the past years. “I leave my office with hope, which is not human optimism, but Christian hope,” he said. Ecumenism is “a constituent of the Church,” he also said. It is part of her very being, which makes sense. The Church has been tasked to spread the news of Jesus Christ, so isolation from others is simply not an option. And much of the truth of the faith is visible in other Christian churches and church communities, and to a lesser extent also in Judaism and Islam. Good relations with these are a first necessary step towards further unity in friendship.
While the cardinal has not officially stepped down yet, and no successor has officially been named,the general consensus is that a change is imminent. The name of Bishop Kurt Koch, currently the bishop of Basel in Switzerland, is being bandied about, though.