Every year on the feast of Epiphany, Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor, ordains several new bishops himself. These are almost always bishops who will be working in the Holy See’s diplomatic corps. Yesterday, two men where ordained in St. Peter’s: Archbishop Charles Brown, the new Nuncio to Ireland, and Archbishop Marek Solczynski, who will be the Nuncio in Georgia and Armenia.
The pope’s homily, available in Dutch here, is once more an excellent reflection on the nature of the feast and what is has to say about the ministry of bishops. A worthwhile read, which also delves into the Magi and the incarnation of God.
After a busy morning in which he consecrated Archbishops Charles Brown and Marek Solczyński during today’s Epiphany Mass, the Holy Father appeared a bit later than usual for his noon Angelus address. He quickly moved to the big event that was already causing a considerable buzz among Catholics – journalists and otherwise – on Twitter: the announcement of a consistory on 18 February in which no less than 22 new cardinals – among them 18 electors – will be created.
There are a few big names in the list, but standing out for us here in the Netherlands is that of Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk. Three years after his arrival in Utrecht, he will become the metropolitan see’s fifth cardinal in a row. Turning 59 in June, Cardinal-designate Eijk will be able to participate in at least two conclaves, I would think (unless the sucessor of Pope Benedict will pull a JPII and remain on the seat of St. Peter for 20 years or more).
The selection of Archbishop Eijk was not unexpected. His name was already mentioned in the run-up to the November 2010 consistory, but the 80th birthday of Cardinal Simonis, the only Dutch elector, cleared the way for Eijk to succeed him in the College of Cardinals. With the title of cardinal comes, of course, a title church in Rome and a whole bag of expectations. And certainly the local media, which has been seeing the Church and the archbishop in the light of the abuse crisis, will be asking a whole heap of questions about Eijk’s suitability for the red hat. But these are questions being asked too late. A candidate’s suitability as cardinal flows from his suitability as bishop or priest. Added to that is the issue of the College of Cardinals reflecting the world Church and the importance of a see or curial position reflected in a cardinal title. The Archdiocese of Utrecht under the guidance of Archbishop Eijk is, in the mind of the pope and most likely also in light of the future, deserving of a cardinal at the helm.
Here is the full list of future cardinals:
Fernando Filoni, 65, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of People
João Bráz de Aviz, 64, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
Manuel Monteiro de Castro, 73, Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary (only appointed as such yesterday!)
Giuseppe Bertello, 69, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State
Domenico Calcagno, 69, President of the Administration of the Patrimony of theApostolic See
Giuseppe Versaldi, 68, President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
Santos Abril y Castelló, 76, Vice-Chamberlain of the Apostolic Chamber and Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
Edwin Frederick O’Brien, 72, Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
Antonio Maria Vegliò, 74, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Francesco Coccopalmerio, 73, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
Giuseppe Betori, 65, Archbishop of Firenze
George Alencherry, 66, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly
Thomas Christopher Collins, 65, Archbishop of Toronto
Willem Jacobus Eijk, 58, Archbishop of Utrecht
John Tong Hon, 72, Bishop of Hong Kong
Rainer Maria Woelki, 55, Archbishop of Berlin (the youngest member of the College of Cardinals)
Timothy Michael Dolan, 62, Archbishop of New York
Dominik Jaroslav Duka, 68, Archbishop of Prague
Prosper Grech, 86, Priest of the Order of St. Augustine
Karl Josef Becker, 83, Priest of the Society of Jesus
Lucian Muresan, 80, Major Archbishop of Fagaras si Alba Iulia (Romanian)
Julien Ries, 91, Priest of Namur, Belgium
This consistory is a fairly Italian affair. With 7 new cardinals, Italy easily overtakes the United States and Germany, which each gain two cardinals (Dolan and O’Brien; Woelki and Becker), Brazil (Bráz de Aviz), Portugal (Monteiro de Castro), Spain (Abril y Castelló), India (Alencherry), Canada (Collins), the Netherlands (Eijk), China (Tong Hon), the Czech Republic (Duka), Malta (Grech), Romania (Muresan) and Belgium (Ries) each have one new cardinal.