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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
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.
Ever so gently, the natural process changes the composition of the Curia in Rome. Yesterday, two cardinals retired for reasons of age. Both men, Cláudio Cardinal Hummes of the Congregation for Clergy, and Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, are one year past the required retirement age of 75.
Their successors were announced on the very same day. Cardinal Hummes, in a relatively unusual move, is succeeded by the secretary of the congregation he headed for four years. Italian Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, 66, is now the prefect. He is generally seen is an intelligent, levelheaded and honest man. As prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy he will be responsible for the affairs concerning diocesan priests, as well as the legal aspects of running parishes. In February he wrote a letter to Archbishop Eijk of Utrecht, clarifying the latter’s right to regulate employment in his cathedral parish. Archbishop Piacenza again made an appearance in my blog with a letter to all the priests.
The Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, which is responsible for all charitable actions and initiatives that relate to the care of the needy, will now be headed by Archbishop Robert Sarah (65). Until now, the Guinean-born archbishop was secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Both archbishops, as heads of a congregation and a pontifical council, are very likely candidates for the red cardinal’s hat in an upcoming consistory. They’ll then join their predecessors who, not being 80 yet, can still vote in a conclave.
Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, has written a short and succinct letter to all the priests. In it, he reminds the priests that their vocation and the work they do are not their own work, but a gift from God. In fact, the priest himself is a gift from God, the archbishop writes, and his inherent dignity (bestowed upon him by the Holy Spirit) must be clearly recognisable in the entire person of the priest: his appearance, his actions, his behaviour, his entire existence.
It’s a message that not only impacts the priest, but everyone who interacts with him. In recognising what the priest is, we are led to an appropriate sense of the greater context: the faith, the Church, the sacraments.