Two days ago I wrote that only one of the three priests on the list of names or the upcoming consistory would be consecrated as a bishop beforehand, namely Fr. Prosper Grech. I have since been proven wrong, because Belgian Father Julien Ries will be consecrated likewise.
Exactly one week before the consistory, on 11 February, Fr. Ries will be consecrated by the Papal Nuncio to Belgium, Archbishop Giacinto Berloco. Co-consecrators will be Bishop Rémy Vancottem of Namur and Bishop Guy Harpigny of Tournai. As a bishop, Fr. Ries will of course be given a titular see, if only for a week. As a cardinal he’ll have a title church and no titular see. Fr. Ries will be appointed as titular archbishop of Bellicastrum, a see last held by the popular Nuncio to the United States who passed away unexpectedly last year, Archbishop Pietro Sambi.
Photo credit: Nicolas Maeterlinck/AFP/Getty Images
The upcoming consistory’s 22-name list will not be complete on the 18th of this month. One of the 22 new cardinals won’t be travelling down to Rome for reasons of ill health. Father Karl Josef Becker, the 83-year-old German theologian and consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will be created a cardinal at a private ceremony at some later date.
Father Becker has long been a confidante of Pope Benedict XVi, from back when the latter, as Cardinal Ratzinger, was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fr. Becker also participated in the negotiations with the SSPX about their return to Rome.
As a Jesuit priest he will most likely also request dispensation from being consecrated a bishop before his elevation to cardinal. Of the three future cardinals who are not bishops yet – Fr. Becker, Fr. Julien Ries and Fr. Prosper Grech – only the latter will be consecrated a bishop, and appointed as titular Archbishop of San Leone. This will take place on 8 February. The exact nature of Fr. Becker’s health concerns have not been revealed.
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.