On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Bishop Jan Hendriks’ ordination to the priesthood, celebrated last Friday at the diocesan shrine of Our Lady of Need in Heiloo, Bishop Jos Punt announced his intention to ask the pope for an early retirement next year.
The bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam will mark the 25th anniversary of his consecration as bishop in the summer of 2020, six months before his 75th birthday. This, he said, would be “a good time to pass the staff to Msgr. Hendriks.” Bishop Hendriks has been coadjutor bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam since December of last year, so a possibly months-long search for a new bishop is already averted.
Bishop Punt has been struggling with health issues for the past years, regularly needing periods of rest. The appointment of Bishop Hendriks as coadjutor will have been the first step in a smooth transition in diocesan leadership. Considering that most coadjutor bishops in recent years have only held that position for a calendar year or less, this fairly rapid turnover is also not unexpected.
Bishop Punt has been the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam (simply Haarlem before 2008), which was established in 1559, suppressed in 1592 and established again in 1833. He was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Haarlem in 1995, and became apostolic administrator of the diocese three days after the early death of Bishop Henny Bomers in 1998. He held that temporary position for an uncommonly long three years before being officialy appointed as bishop of Haarlem. From 2000 to 2011 he was assisted by Bishop Jan van Burgsteden as auxiliary bishop, and, after the latter’s semi-retirement (semi because he retained duties in the bishops’ conference as well as in the inner city parish in Amsterdam), by Bishop Hendriks. Since 1995, Bishop Punt has also been the apostolic administrator of the Military Ordinariate of the Netherlands, which has not had its own bishop since the retirement of Bishop Ronald Bär, who held the position in addition to being bishop of Rotterdam.
The retirement of Bishop Punt and Bishop Hendriks’ succession will be the last episcopal appointment in the Netherlands for some time, barring any unforeseen circumstances. The next-oldest bishop in the Netherlands is 66-year-old Cardinal Wim Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, who is therefore still nine years away from retirement. There will, however, be a few earlier changes, although they do no involve native bishops. Towards the end of 2021 the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, will reach retirement age. Additionaly, the Ukrainain Diocese of St.-Vladimir-le-Grand de Paris, which ministers to Ukrainian Catholics in the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg), is currently awaiting a new bishop, who will have his seat in Paris.
Following a period of ill health, Finland’s first native-born bishop of the modern era retired early today.. Marking his 72nd birthday, Bishop Teemu Sippo announced the news in a letter to the faithful. Bishop Sippo headed the Diocese of Helsinki, which covers all of Finland, since 2009. He cites his ailing health, worsened by a fall at Christmas time, as the reason for his retirement
The previous sede vacante of Helsinki lasted almost a year, so the appointment of a new bishop of one of the northernmost dioceses in the world could still be some time in the future.
The Diocese of Helsinki was established as the Apostolic Vicariate of Finland in 1920, from territory belonging to the Archdiocese of Mohilev, which then included large parts of Russia. Finland had only just gained its independence from Russia, which was in the midst of post-Revolution civil war.
In the first three years of its existence, an Apostolic Administrator would lead the new circumscription: the Dutch priest, Fr. Michiel Buckx, a priest of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, or Dehonians. Fr. Buckx would be appointed as the first vicar apostolic in 1923, and was made a bishop as well. He would be suceeded in 1933 be another Dutchman, Bishop Gulielmus Cobben, another Dehonian. When the apostolic vicariate was promoted to the Diocese of Helsinki in 1955, Bishop Cobben continued as bishop of Helsinki. In 1964 he recieved a coadjutor bishop, again a Dutch Dehonian, Bishop Paul Verschuren. He succeeded Bishop Cobben in 1967 and remained in office until 1998, during which period he served four terms as president of the Scandinavian bishops’ conference, the first from 1973 to 1978, and the other three from 1986 to 1998. Bishop Verschuren was succeeded by another Dehonian, but one from Poland this time. Bishop Józef Wróbel served from 2000 to 2008, after which he returned to Poland to become an auxiliary bishop of Lublin. In 2009, Fr. Teemu Sippo, who had served as apostolic administrator following the reassignment of Bishop Wróbel, was appointed as the first Finnish bishop of Helsinki. He was consecrated in the Lutheran cathedral of Helsinki by Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, Bishop Wróbel and Copenhagen’s Bishop Czeslaw Kozon. Cardinal Lehmann had been Bishop Sippo’s thesis advisor when he studied in Freiburg in the 1970s.
Of the 5.5 million inhabitants of Finland, only some 14,00 are Catholic. These are spread over some 340,000 square kilometers and are served by some 30 priests. The Diocese of Helsinki consists of 8 parishes.
“We are gathered in the Mother Church of the Diocese of Paris, Notre-Dame Cathedral, which rises in the heart of the city as a living sign of God’s presence in our midst. My predecessor, Pope Alexander III, laid its first stone, and Popes Pius VII and John Paul II honoured it by their presence. I am happy to follow in their footsteps, a quarter of a century after coming here to offer a conference on catechesis. It is hard not to give thanks to the Creator of both matter and spirit for the beauty of this edifice. The Christians of Lutetia had originally built a cathedral dedicated to Saint Stephen, the first martyr; as time went on it became too small, and was gradually replaced, between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, by the great building we admire today. The faith of the Middle Ages built the cathedrals, and here your ancestors came to praise God, to entrust to him their hopes and to express their love for him. Great religious and civil events took place in this shrine, where architects, painters, sculptors and musicians have given the best of themselves. We need but recall, among so many others, the architect Jean de Chelles, the painter Charles Le Brun, the sculptor Nicolas Coustou and the organists Louis Vierne and Pierre Cochereau. Art, as a pathway to God, and choral prayer, the Church’s praise of the Creator, helped Paul Claudel, who attended Vespers here on Christmas Day 1886, to find the way to a personal experience of God. It is significant that God filled his soul with light during the chanting of the Magnificat, in which the Church listens to the song of the Virgin Mary, the Patroness of this church, who reminds the world that the Almighty has lifted up the lowly (cf. Lk 1:52). As the scene of other conversions, less celebrated but no less real, and as the pulpit from which preachers of the Gospel like Fathers Lacordaire, Monsabré and Samson transmitted the flame of their passion to the most varied congregations, Notre-Dame Cathedral rightly remains one of the most celebrated monuments of your country’s heritage. Following a tradition dating back to the time of Saint Louis, I have just venerated the relics of the True Cross and the Crown of Thorns, which have now found a worthy home here, a true offering of the human spirit to the power of creative Love.”
Last night, Notre Dame burned. This morning, we find that more than we could have hoped for was spared of its interior. The roof and spire may be gone, and soot may cover the walls and mangled debris may have reached the floor, but Notre Dame still stands.
And most important of all, the reason of its existence still remains: the presence of the Lord, Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine, the sacraments given to us who wish to follow Him, as well as some of the symbols of the salvation He wrought for us.
Notre Dame is a historical building which has a special place in the hearts and minds of many, first of all the Parisians and the French, but also those millions, including yours truly, who had the chance to visit her, however briefly.*
But more than a monument to history and the civilisation in which we live, Notre Dame is a church. It is the home of God, a prefiguration of heaven, the place where we come to encounter Him as closely as we can. It manifests the presence of God in the heart of Paris, in the place where that great city began, and thus also in the heart of all the works and endeavours we undertake.
Last night’s fire and its timing, as Holy Week begins, can be understood symbolically, regardless of the cause of the fire. The scenes of people praying and singing as the cathedral burned give us hope and remind us that God hears us at the difficult times in our lives, but He remains present when things are going well and we tend to forget or ignore Him. Like Notre Dame, He is always there.
Today, we may mourn the damage done, but we may also rejoice in what remains. Notre Dame still stands. God is still with us.
*Last October, my wife and I had the chance to visit Notre Dame. By chance we participated in a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Aupetit and Bishop Freddy Fuenmayor Suárez of Los Teques, Venezuela, who gifted an icon of the Blessed Virgin to Notre Dame. The cathedral was filled to capacity and the mood was celebratory. The joy of the Hispanic community was palpable and infectuous. A fond memory, which made yesterday’s developments all the more painful.
It appears that the process of secularising and selling the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Utrecht is no more option anymore, but soon to be reality. As reported by Hendro Munsterman in his regular newsletter, the parish council is in the second of an eight-step program that will result in the secularisation and then sale of the sole remaining medieval Catholic church in the city of Utrecht. This second step included informing the parishioners, which happened last weekend. Next up is a series of hearings for those parishioners which should then result in a proposal that will be sent to the archbishop. This proposal is a request for secularisation and the process in which that should place. The decision to secularise lies with the archbishop, even though it was initiated by the parish council.
Although a future use for the cathedral has not been confirmed by anyone, a rumour goes that there is already a contract ready for signing, under which the cathedral will be sold to the adjacent museum Catharijneconvent, which already owns the remainder of the old monastic complex of which the cathedral is a part, for a symbolic sum of 1 euro. A sale to the museum will assure the survival of the building’s interior and history.
In the meantime, parishioners and supporters across the archdiocese have signed a petition to prevent the secularisation and sale of the cathedral. Among the 1438 signatories are a number of priests. One, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We have all been ordained in this church: we now feel what we inflict upon regular parishioners when we close the church in which they were married and where their children have been baptised.”
Whatever the decision, it is already triggering strong emotions, but the fact remains that the parish is taking these steps in order to stay financially afloat. Buildings, especially old ones, cost money, and if donations and other forms of support don’t cover the bill, such extreme measures become options.
While the cathedral of St. Catherine is not the first or only church considered for secularisation, it is unique in that it is a cathedral. Dioceses need cathedrals, so if St. Catherine’s is sold, the Archdiocese of Utrecht must find a new one. The most logical option would be the other church used by the cathedral parish: St Augustine’s, which is smaller and has been closed for renovation for the better part of two years. While possible, it would be almost inconceivable to move the cathedral outside the city of Utrecht, to a more central location in the archdiocese (the Archdiocese of Utrecht stretches from the Randstad metropolitan area to the German border, with the city of Utrecht situated almost on its western edge).
St. Catherine’s has been the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Utrecht since its reestablishment in 1853. The secularisation of cathedrals is rare, but not unheard of. In the 1970s it happened in the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden, where the cathedral of St. Martin was secularised and subsequently demolished, and in 2001 the Diocese of Breda made the church of St. Anthony its cathedral (it had already been the cathedral for several decades in the 19th century). The previous cathedral, St. Michael, was demolished in 2007 and replaced with a new and smaller building.
Today, nineteen martyrs of the faith will be beatified in Algeria. It’s a varied group of priests, religious sisters and a bishop and their martyrdom is not an ancient event. Rather, they were killed for being Christians in living memory, in te last decade of the 20th century.
In his Advent letter, Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp presents us one of the soon-to-be Blesseds. Belgian-born White Father Charles Deckers. He, the bishop says, provides a modern face to Advent, a time of hope and expectation. These are what motivated Fr. Charles and the other martyrs in life, and these still remain.
“What are we waiting for? A justifiable question. Every year it is Advent. Every year we dream about peace and reconciliation. Every years we read pages full of hope and expectation in the Prophets. Every year we construct a nativity scene with a child in the manger. Not once do we feel that those expectations are unnecessary or outdated. On the contrary, year after year current events bring new disappointments or challenges. Our greatest expectations still remain hidden as seeds in the earth, waiting for a better season.
In the middle of Advent, on 8 December, the Antwerp-born White Father Charles Deckers will be beatified in Oran, Algeria, together with eighteen other martyrs. This group of Algerian martyrs also includes a bishop, six sisters, three other White Father and seven Trappists. We know the latter from the movie Des Hommes et de Dieux.
Charles Deckers was born in Antwerp on 26 December 1924. He follows his secondary education at the college of Our Lady. During the Second World War the Jesuits implore their students to aid the needy inhabitants of the city. It marks Charles Deckers for life. After his secondary education he decides to become a missionary in Africa. He ends up in Algeria, then still a French colony. He studies Islam and learns both Arabic and Berber. In Tizi Ouzou, where he lives and works for the longest time, he has a special eye for the young. He establish a technical school where young people can learn a profession. During the Algerian War (1954-1962) he does everything to prevent young people from joining extremist or violent groups. Because the civil authorities do no appreciate his impact on Algeria’s youth, he is forced to leave the country in 1977.
He remains abroad for ten years: five years in Brussels and five years in Yemen. In Brussels he takes part in the establishment of El Kalima, a centre of encounter and dialogue between Christians and Muslims. He is finally able to return to Algeria in 1987. As priest he is attached to the Basilica of Notre-Dame d’Afrique in the capital Algiers. Again, he works for encounter and dialogue, especially among the young. And again, he establishes a polytechnic.
After 1990, political tensions in Algeria steadily increase. Fundamentalist Muslim groups commit deathly attacks against anyone working for peace and reconciliation in the country. Violence against Christians also increases. Despite the threats, most priests and religious decide to remain in the country. Charles Deckers also wants to stay, out of solidarity with the persecuted Christians and his threatened Muslim friends. It is a conscious decision, supported by a deep spirituality. On 26 December 1994 he celebrates his 70th birthday in Algiers. Days later he leaves for Tizi Ouzou, to visit his brother priests. Less than half an hour after his arrival a group of armed commandos break into the building and kill the four White Fathers present, among them Charles Deckers.
Expectation is not giving in to despair or bitterness. It is continued hope for what seems impossible.
After all, humanity’s most beautiful expectations are still hidden like seeds in the earth, waiting for better seasons. When will that hidden seed be able to sprout, grow and flower? It is an open question.
This year, the martyrs of Algeria provide a modern face to Advent.
Their hope and expectations have not vanished. They lie in the earth – also among us – waiting for better times. Advent’s question is not when God will come, but when man will receive Him. It is harder to wait for man that it is to wait for God.”
After a ten-month vacancy (another fairly lengthy one, which unavoidably gave rise to theories of episcopal disagreements reaching as far as the Vatican itself), the Diocese of Roermond has a bishop again. Stepping into the shoes of Frans Wiertz, who led the diocese for 24 years is Father Harrie Smeets, 57, until now the dean of Venray.
^The cathedral chapter of Roermond upon the appointment of Dean Smeets to that body in 2015. The new bishop of Roermond can be seen to the right of then-Bishop Frans Wiertz.
The Diocese of Roermond coincides with the province of Limburg and is located in the south-east of the Netherlands, wedged in between Belgium and Germany, bordering the Dutch (arch)dioceses of ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Utrecht, Hasselt and Liège in Belgium and Aachen and Münster in Germany. It shares much of its history with its neighbours, as it was first established in 1559 from territories belonging to Cologne and Liège. It was suppressed under Napoleon and re-established in 1840, again from Cologne and Liège. it has been a full diocese since 1853. The Catholic history, however, goes far further back, as the diocese also includes the city of Maastricht, which was the seat of a diocese as far back as 530.
The new bishop will be assisted in his work by the longest-seated auxiliary bishop in the Netehrlands, Msgr. Everard de Jong currently in Rome to participate in the Synod of Bishops.
Bishop-elect Smeets will be the tenth bishop of Roermond since 1853. He has served as area dean of Venray, tbe northernmost of Roermond’s thirteen deaneries, since 2004. He has been a priest for more than 25 years and a member of the cathedral chapter since 2015. As such played a part in his own appointment, although one may wonder if the office of bishops is something that any good priest willingly seeks. Until 2011, Bishop-elect Smeets offered televised Masses, which were broadcast on national television live, 14 times. Leo Fijen, TV presenter and head of religious/spiritual programming for broadcaster KRO/NCRV, knows Fr. Smeets well and describes him thus:
“A priest from Limburg, a man of these times, a teacher who speaks the language of the young, a manager willing to make decisions, but also a man seeking God and doing what this pope considers important: opening the doors of the church and seeking out Christ in the neighbours outside the church.”
The exact time and date of Bishop Smeets’ consecration remains to be announced.
Friday a week ago, the 24th of August, saw the passing of 93-year-old Bishop Dominik Kalata in Bratislava, Slovakia. It was the end of a life spent for the major part in exile, a life marked by the Church’s attempts to serve the faithful in Communist-dominated lands during the Cold War. Born in Poland, Bishop Kalata was consecrated in secret for the Church in what was then Czechoslovakia, spent 26 years of his life in Germany, only to return to what had then become Slovakia, where he died.
Bishop Kalata, who came from southern Poland, joined the Jesuits in 1943, the middle of the Second World War, and began his studies in the town of Tetschen, in the Nazi German Sudetenland, now Děčín in the Czech Republic. After the war the Communists came to power, and in 1950 all monasteries were closed, which made Kalata’s studies significantly more difficult, as he was first imprisoned and then served for three years in the Czechoslovakian military. In 1951, he was ordained a priest for the Society of Jesus. His priesthood still illegal in Czechoslovakia, Father Kalata earned a living as a carpenter, joiner, lorry driver, electrician and photo lab technician. He was nonetheless imprisoned for a further six years. As by that time, all the bishops in the country were either in prison themselves or else under constant guard, Fr. Kalata was consecrated as bishop in secret, which allowed him a certain measure of freedom of movement, that the known bishops lacked. He was one of a number of bishops thus consecrated. In 1968, Bishop Kalata received amnesty, although any public exercise of his office remained forbidden. A year later, he was allowed to travel to Austria, to complete his studies in Innsbruck. In 1976, he was made responsible for the pastoral care of Czech faithful outside their homelands, in all of Europe and North America. In 1985, his episcopal office was made sort of official by Rome, as he was appointed as titular bishop of Semta . He was never appointed to a diocese in the Czech republic or Slovakia, unlike some of his brethren. For example, the bishop who had originally consecrated him, Ján Korec, was himself secretly consecrated in 1951, and would become bishop of Nitra in 1990 and a cardinal in 1991.
During his time in Germany, from 1976 to 209, Bishop Kalata served the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau, conferring confirmations and consecrating altars, clocks and organs in behalf of the archbishop. As such, he served as an unofficial auxiliary bishop, although he had no role in the archdiocesan curia. In 2009, Bishop Kalata returned home to Slovakia.
In remarks made on the occasion of Bishop Kalata’s death, Msgr. Axel Mehlmann, vicar general of Freiburg im Breisgau said:
“He was steadfast in his faith and trust in God. In times of persecution he was for many a sign for the fact that God is among us and does not abandon us. In our time, when the unity of Europe is at risk, as marginalisation, demarcation and oppression become increasingly prevalent, we remember Bishop Kalata with gratitude and respect.
An overview of the Czechoslovakian bishops during the Communist dictatorship can be found, in German, here.
Bishop Kalata was the second-longest serving bishop in the world, having been consecrated on 9 September 1955.
A historic development today in the fight against sexual abuse in the Church: a cardinal, albeit a retired one, resigned his title and red hat, and was ordered to cease all his public duties and lead a live of prayer and penance in a yet to be announced location.
Cardinal – now just Archbishop – Theodore McCarrick faces two allegations of sexual abuse of minors and several further claims of harassment of and misconduct with adults. The steps taken today come before his case is heard and judged in a canonical trial according to ecclesiastical law, and any legal developments which may take place in an American court of law, as the law allows (the major obstacle in such cases, which – as here – often took place many years ago, remains the statute of limitations).
The case of McCarrick brings back strong memories of that of the late Scottish Cardinal O’Brien. He too saw all his cardinal rights and duties removed on his own request, but he was allowed to remain a cardinal. Former Cardinal McCarrick is punished more severely, although it is, in some ways, a passive punishment, as it was McCarrick himself who requested it in a letter to the Pope.
The full resignation of a cardinal is a rare event, and this is the first time it has happened since 1927. In 2015, I wrote a blog post about the history of cardinal resignations, in which I gave an overview of past resignations of cardinals (although in it I erroneously claimed that the last such resignation took place in 1911 instead of 1927).
It remains to be seen if there will be a canonical trial for McCarrick, as today’s press release suggests, and if so, what its result will be. Perhaps there will be further penalties for Archbishop McCarrick. On Twitter, Dr Kurt Martens, Professor of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America, offers a detailed analysis of the possible penalties that can be levied against McCarrick according to the laws of the Church. He suggests that dismissal from the clerical state is one of the few options remaining, as McCarrick is already retired and so no longer holds any office. Martens mentions two recent examples of prelates having been laicised after allegations of abuse: Raymond Lahey, former bishop of Antigonish in Canada in 2012, and Józef Wesolowski, former Apostolic Nuncio to the Dominican Republic (and thus automatically an archbishop) in 2014.
Beyond McCarrick, there is a chance that there will be consequences for other bishops in the United States and Rome, as the question of who knew what and when about McCarrick’s abuse remains unanswered.
Theodore Edgar McCarrick was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, and became auxiliary bishop of that archdiocese in 1977. In 1981, he was appointed as bishop of Metuchen in New Jersey, and then as archbishop of Newark in 1986. From 2011 to 2006 he served as archbishop of Washington. He was created a cardinal in the giant consistory of 21 February 2001 (making him a cardinal class mate of Pope Francis). He held the title of Santi Nereo ed Achilleo. The two allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, which were deemed credible and substantiated by the Archdiocese of New York in June, took place in the early 1970s and involved a then 16-year-old boy. McCarrick was then serving as a priest in New York, and today claims to have no memory of the alleged abuse. At the same time last month, the chanceries of the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen, where McCarrick served as bishop, announced that they had received three further allegations of misconduct involving adults, and that two of these allegations had resulted in settlements.
It may not look like it today, but the northern part of what is now the Netherlands, especially the provinces of Groningen and Fryslân, were once a monastic heartland. Much of the land reclaimed from the sea was the result of the work by monks or promoted by them. They established massive monastic complexes, of which the town of Aduard is perhaps among the best known.
One of the monasteries was Oldeklooster (which simply means ‘old monastery’) near the village of Feldwerd, near the shores of the Dollard sea arm. This was established by a man named Hathebrand (although the second ‘h’ in his name is sometimes omitted). Hathebrand’s monastery housed both male and female religious and, after a difficult first start, which, the story goes, even included one or more attempts on the life of its founder, the monastery flourished. Hathebrand went on to establish two more monasteries: Merehusen in East Frisia (now northwest Germany) and Thesinge or Germania in the vicinity of the city of Groningen. According to monastic records, Hathebrand died on 30 July 1183.
In 1594 the fortunes of the monasteries turned. The city of Groningen, which controlled much of the lands surrounding it, fell to the forces of the Dutch republic and quickly became Protestant. The Catholic faith became illegal and the monasteries fell empty. Over time, they turned into ruins which were later demolished. In the countryside of Groningen, there is very little that remains of the once ubiquitous religious foundations.
The remains of Hathebrand, by then deemed a saint, were moved to the Catholic south, ending up in Antwerp. While the north forgot about him, in what is now Belgium he was venerated as a saint and helper in need. The Belgian town of Mortsel still has a street named after him. The relics of Saint Hathebrand found a final resting place in the church of Kortrijk-Dutsel. And there the story ends. Until recently.
In the words of reporter Reinder Smith, writing for RTV Noord:
“He had stopped hoping. Edze de Boer from Uithuizermeeden is almost 92 years old, and has been looking for Saint Hathebrand for more than fifty years. Last March he received a letter from the parish council of Kortrijk-Dutsel.
“De Boer was born in Katmis near Holwierde and knew from his youth the stories that there had been a monastery on this dwelling mound. He started to study the history, and so learned that the physical remains of Hathebrand had ended up in Belgium.”
“Former teacher De Boer had already visited [Kortrijk-Dutsel] in 2002, but the relic could not be found then. But the board of the church of St. Catherine kept looking and after 16 years a small chest appeared from the back of a closet, with in it, among other things, a part of the bones of St. Hathebrand.”
Today, those few remains returned home. Not to Hathebrand’s monastery, which is long gone, but to the dwelling mound of Feldwerd, and then to the church of Krewerd, for a public presentation, including a look back on Mr. de Boer’s search for the long-lost saint, medieval organ music, an address on the rediscovery of the saints following the restoration of medieval churches and the related study of medieval church interiors, and a brief word by Catholic priest Fr. Arjen Jellema.
Saint Hathebrand’s return is a temporary one, however. After a brief visit to his native lands, Hathebrand will return to Belgium.
Today marks not only Pope Francis’ fifth red hat day, with the ceremonies to begin at 4 pm Roman time, but also an historical change in the composition of the College of Cardinals, albeit one with, on first glance, little effect on the day to day affairs of the Church.
The College of Cardinals is divided into three ranks: the cardinal-deacons, cardinal-priests and cardinal-bishops. Of these, the cardinal-bishops are of the highest rank and also the smallest of the three groups. Traditionally, the cardinal-bishops were the bishops of the seven* suburbicarian sees, the ancient dioceses surrounding Rome. Before 1962, these cardinals were the actual bishops of the suburbicarian sees, but in that year the position became titular and the dioceses received bishops who had the time to actual manage them.
The cardinal-bishops remained the highest order of cardinals, however, and from their ranks the dean and vice-dean of the entire College were chosen. In times of a sede vacante this becomes most visible, as the dean has the duty of calling the other cardinals to Rome and organising the conclave to elect a new pope. Today, the Dean of the College of Cardinals is the cardinal-bishop of Albano and Ostia, Cardinal Angelo Sodano**.
In 1965, the order of cardinal-bishops was expanded by the addition of those patriarchs of eastern Churches in union with Rome who were made cardinals. There are three of these today: the Coptic patriarch and the current and previous Maronite patriarchs. After today’s consistory, they will be joined by the Chaldean patriarch. These eastern cardinal-bishops, while equal in rank to the others, receive no suburbicarian see and do not participate in the election of dean and vice-dean (they are also unable to be elected themselves)***.
Over the centuries, but especially in the last decades, the College of Cardinals has continuously grown in size. For example, about a century ago, the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XV consisted of 57 cardinals (a further 8 were unable to take part), while following today’s consistory, there will be 125 electors. This growth took part solely in the ranks of the cardinal-deacons and the cardinal-priests. The cardinal-bishops steadfastly remained limited to the holders of the suburbicarian sees. To remedy that, Pope Francis decided to select four cardinals to be elevated to the rank of cardinal-bishops. They keep their current title churches and duties, but it may be assumed that they are now first in line to be moved to a suburbicarian see when one falls vacant. The four new cardinal-bishops are full members of the highest section of the hierarchy in all respects, and can vote for and be elected as dean or vice-dean. Canons 350 and 352 of the Code of Canon Law limit this to the holders of the suburbicarian sees, but that limitation has been waived for the new cardinal-bishops.
For this honour, which is simultaneously an obligation, Pope Francis has selected four cardinals from three different countries, who all work in the Curia in Rome.
Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State, 63. Perhaps the most important rising star in Francis’ papacy. A trained diplomat, the erstwhile Nuncio to Venezuela was called to Rome in 2013 to succeed Cardinal Bertone as Secretary of State. In 2014 he was made a cardinal with the title of Santi Simone e Giuda Taddeo a Torre Angela, and was added to the Council of Cardinals, the C9, that assists the pope in reforming the Curia, about a year after that group was established.
Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, 74. Argentinean like the pope, Cardinal Sandri is also a diplomat, having served as Nuncio to Venezuela and Mexico before joining the Secretariat of State as Substitute for General Affairs in 2000. He became Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in 2007 and was made a cardinal in that same year. Last month, he was one of the cardinal-deacons who were promoted to cardinal-priests. He maintained is title of Santi Biagio e Carlo ai Catinari, as he does with his elevation to cardinal-bishop.
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, 74. Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 2001 and 2002, the Canadian prelate returned home as archbishop of Québec, and was made a cardinal in 2003, with Santa Maria in Traspontina as his title church. Since 2010 he serves as prefect of the congregation which controls the appointing of bishops around the world.
Fernando Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, 72. Like two of his three classmates a diplomat, having served as Nuncio in Jordan, Iraq and the Philippines. Like Cardinal Sandri, he also served as Substitute for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State, from 2007 to 2011. In that latter year he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and was made a cardinal in 2012. He holds the title of Nostra Signora do Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio.
In paractice these changes mean that Cardinals Parolin, Sandri, Ouellet and Filoni are among the most significant collaborators of the pope, and when the time for a conclave comes, it will be Cardinal Parolin who will oversee the proceedings: he will take on those duties that Cardinal Sodano is unable to because of his age.
With these elevations and the creation of fourteen new cardinals today, the makeup of the entire College of Cardinals is listed below. In bold are those cardinals under the age of 80, who can vote in a conclave. Their duties and offices are summarised here. In many cases, especially for cardinals working in the curia, they have or had several functions. I have chosen to list only their most prominent or best-known roles.
Angelo Cardinal Sodano: Dean of the College of Cardinals, Secretary of State emeritus
Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re: Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops
Roger Cardinal Etchegaray: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
Francis Cardinal Arinze: Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone: Secretary of State emeritus
José Cardinal Saraiva Martins: Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Pietro Cardinal Parolin: Secretary of State
Leonardo Cardinal Sandri: Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
Marc Cardinal Ouellet: Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
Fernando Cardinal Filoni: Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples
Nasrallah Pierre Cardinal Sfeir: Patriarch emeritus of Antioch (Maronite Rite)
Antonios Cardinal Naguib: Patriarch emeritus of Alexandria (Coptic Rite)
Béchara Pierre Cardinal Raï: Patriarch of Antioch (Maronite Rite)
Louis Raphaël I Cardinal Sako: Patriarch of Babylon (Chaldean Rite)
Michael Michai Cardinal Kitbunchu: Archbishop emeritus of Bangkok
Alexandre Cardinal do Nascimento: Archbishop emeritus of Luanda
Godfried Cardinal Danneels: Archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussel
Thomas Stafford Cardinal Williams: Archbishop emeritus of Wellington
Henryk Roman Cardinal Gulbinowicz: Archbishop emeritus of Wroclaw
Jozef Cardinal Tomko: Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples
Paul Cardinal Poupard: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
Friedrich Cardinal Wetter: Archbishop emeritus of München und Freising
Adrianus Johannes Cardinal Simonis: Archbishop emeritus of Utrecht
Eduardo Cardinal Martínez Somalo: Prefect emeritus of the Consecration for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
Achille Cardinal Silvestrini: Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
José Freire Cardinal Falcão: Archbishop emeritus of Brasília
Alexandre José María Cardinal dos Santos: Archbishop emeritus of Maputo
Christian Wiyghan Cardinal Tumi: Archbishop emeritus of Douala
Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Nicolás de Jesús Cardinal López Rodríguez: Archbishop emeritus of Santo Domingo
Roger Michael Cardinal Mahony: Archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles
Camillo Cardinal Ruini: Vicar General emeritus for the Vicariate of Rome, Archpriest emeritus of S. John Lateran
Henri Cardinal Schwery: Bishop emeritus of Sion
Jaime Lucas Cardinal Ortega y Alamino: Archbishop emeritus of Havana
Julius Riyadi Cardinal Darmaatmadja: Archbishop emeritus of Jakarta
Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala: Archbishop emeritus of Kampala
Adam Joseph Cardinal Maida: Archbishop emeritus of Detroit
Vinko Cardinal Puljic: Archbihsop of Vrhbosna
Juan Cardinal Sandoval Íñiguez: Archbihsop emeritus of Guadalajara
Jorge Arturo Cardinal Medina Estévez: Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
James Francis Cardinal Stafford: Archbishop emeritus of Denver
Salvatore Cardinal De Giorgi: Archbishop emeritus of Palermo
Serafim Fernandes Cardinal de Araújo: Archbishop emeritus of Belo Horizonte
Antonio María Cardinal Rouco Varela: Archbishop emeritus of Madrid
Polycarp Cardinal Pengo: Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam
Christoph Cardinal Schönborn: Archbishop of Vienna
Norberto Cardinal Rivera Carrera: Archbishop emeritus of Mexico
Marian Cardinal Jaworski: Archbishop emeritus of Lviv
Janis Cardinal Pujats: Archbishop emeritus of Riga
Agostino Cardinal Cacciavillan: President emeritus of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See
Sergio Cardinal Sebastiani: President emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski: Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education
Crescenzio Cardinal Sepe: Archbishop of Naples
Walter Cardinal Kasper: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Geraldo Majella Cardinal Agnelo: Archbishop emeritus of São Salvador de Bahia
Pedro Cardinal Rubiano Sáenz: Archbishop emeritus of Bogotá
Theodore Edgar Cardinal McCarrick: Archbishop emeritus of Washington
Audrys Juozas Cardinal Backis: Archbishop emeritus of Vilnius
Francisco Javier Cardinal Errázuriz Ossa: Archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile
Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier: Archbishop of Durban
Óscar Andrés Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga: Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and Coordinator of the Council of Cardinals
Juan Luis Cardinal Cipriani Thorne: Archbishop of Lima
Francisco Cardinal Álvarez Martínez: Archbishop emeritus of Toledo
Cláudio Cardinal Hummes: Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Clergy
Severino Cardinal Poletto: Archbishop emeritus of Torino
Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran: President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church
Julián Cardinal Herranz Casado: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
Javier Cardinal Lozano Barragán: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers
Angelo Cardinal Scola: Archbishop emeritus of Milan
Anthony Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie: Archbishop emeritus of Lagos
Gabriel Cardinal Zubier Wako: Archbishop emeritus of Khartoum
Carlos Cardinal Amigo Vallejo: Archbihsop emeritus of Sevilla
Justin Francis Cardinal Rigali: Archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia
Eusébio Oscar Cardinal Scheid: Archbishop emeritus of Rio de Janeiro
Ennio Cardinal Antonelli: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Family
Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson: Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
Telesphore Placidus Cardinal Toppo: Archbishop emeritus of Ranchi
George Cardinal Pell: Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy
Josip Cardinal Bozanic: Archbishop of Zagreb
Jean-Baptise Cardinal Pham Minh Man: Archbishop emeritus of Ho Chi Minh City
Philipp Christian Igance Marie Cardinal Barbarin: Archbishop of Lyon
Péter Cardinal Erdö: Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest
William Joseph Cardinal Levada: Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Franc Cardinal Rode: Prefect emeritus of the Consecration for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
Agostino Cardinal Vallini: Pontifical Legate for the Basilicas of St. Francis and St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi
Jorge Liberato Cardinal Urosa Savino: Archbishop of Caracas
Gaudencio Borbon Cardinal Rosales: Archbishop emeritus of Manila
Jean-Pierre Bernard Cardinal Ricard: Archbishop of Bordeaux
Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera: Archbishop of Valencia
Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jin-suk: Archbishop emeritus of Seoul
Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley: Archbishop of Boston
Stanislaw Cardinal DziwiszArchbishop emeritus of Kraków
Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun: Bishop emeritus of Hong Kong
Albert Cardinal Vanhoye: Secretary emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical Commission
Giovanni Cardinal Lajolo: President emeritus of the Governorate of the Vatican City State and President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State
Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”
Angelo Cardinal Comastri: Archpriest of St. Peter and Vicar General for the Vatican City State
Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko: Archpries of St. Mary Major
Raffaele Cardinal Farina: Librarian emeritus of the Vatican Apostolic Library and Archivist emeritus of the Vatican Secret Archives
Seán Baptist Cardinal Brady: Archbishop emeritus of Armagh
Lluís Cardinal Martinez Sistach: Archbishop emeritus of Barcelona
André Armand Cardinal Vingt-Trois: Archbishop emeritus of Paris
Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco: Archbishop of Genova
Théodore-Adrien Cardinal Sarr: Archbishop emeritus of Dakar
Oswald Cardinal Gracias: Archbishop of Bombay
Francisco Cardinal Robles Ortega: Archbishop of Guadalajara
Daniel Nicholas Cardinal DiNardo: Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
Odilo Pedro Cardinal Scherer: Archbishop of São Paulo
John Cardinal Njue: Archbishop of Nairobi
Estanislao Esteban Cardinal Karlic: Archbishop emeritus of Paraná
Raúl Eduardo Cardinal Vela Chiriboga: Archbishop emeritus of Quito
Laurent Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya: Archbishop of Kinshasa
Paolo Cardinal Romeo: Archbishop emeritus of Palermo
Donald William Cardinal Wuerl: Archbishop of Washington
Raymundo Damasceno Cardinal Assis: Archbishop emeritus of Aparecida
Kazimierz Cardinal Nycz: Archbishop of Warszawa
Albert Malcolm Ranjith Cardinal Patabendige Don: Archbishop of Colombo
Reinhard Cardinal Marx: Archbishop of München und Freising
José Manuel Cardinal Estepa Llaurens: Military Ordinary emeritus of Spain
George Cardinal Alencherry: Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly (Syro-Malabar Rite)
Thomas Christopher Cardinal Collins: Archbishop of Toronto
Dominik Cardinal Duka: Archbishop of Prague
Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk: Archbishop of Utrecht
Giuseppe Cardinal Betori: Archbishop of Firenze
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan: Archbishop of New York
Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki: Archbishop of Köln
John Cardinal Tong Hon: Bishop emeritus of Hong Kong
Lucian Cardinal Muresan: Major Archbishop of Fagaras si Alba Iulia (Romanian Rite)
Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal: Major Archbishop of Trivandrum (Syro-Malankar Rite)
John Olorunfemi Cardinal Onaiyekan: Archbishop of Abuja
Jesús Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez: Archbishop of Bogotá
Luis Antonio Gokim Cardinal Tagle: Archbishop of Manila
Vincent Gerard Cardinal Nichols: Archbishop of Westminster
Leopoldo José Cardinal Brenes Solórzano: Archbishop of Managua
Gérald Cyprien Cardinal Lacroix: Archbishop of Québec
Jean-Pierre Cardinal Kutwa: Archbishop of Abidjan
Orani João Cardinal Tempesta: Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro
Gualtiero Cardinal Bassetti: Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve
Mario Aurelio Cardinal Poli: Archbishop of Buenos Aires
Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung: Archbishop of Seoul
Ricardo Cardinal Ezzati Andrello: Archbishop of Santiago de Chile
Philippe Nakellentuba Cardinal Ouédraogo: Archbishop of Ouagadougou
Orlando Beltran Cardinal Quevedo: Archbishop of Cotabato
Chibly Cardinal Langlois: Bishop of Les Cayes
Fernando Cardinal Sebastián Aguilar: Archbishop emeritus of Pamplona y Tudela
Kelvin Edward Cardinal Felix: Archbishop emeritus of Castries
Manuel José Cardinal Macário do Nascimento Clemente: Patriarch of Lissabon
Berhaneyesus Demerew Cardinal Souraphiel: Metropolitan of Addis Abeba (Ethiopic Rite)
John Atcherley Cardinal Dew: Archbishop of Wellington
Edoardo Cardinal Menichelli: Archbishop emeritus of Ancona-Osimo
Pierre Cardinal Nguyen Van Nhon: Archbishop of Hanoi
Alberto Cardinal Suárez Inda: Archbishop emeritus of Morelia
Charles Maung Cardinal Bo: Archbishop of Yangon
Francis Xavier Kriengsak Cardinal Kovithavanij: Archbishop of Bangkok
Francesco Cardinal Montenegro: Archbishop of Agrigento
Daniel Fernando Cardinal Sturla Berhouet: Archbishop of Montevideo
Ricardo Cardinal Blázquez Pérez: Archbishop of Valladolid
José Luis Cardinal Lacunza Maestrojuán: Bishop of David
Arlindo Cardinal Gomes Furtado: Bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde
Soane Patita Cardinal Mafi: Bishop of Tonga
José de Jesús Cardinal Pimiento Rodriguez: Archbishop emeritus of Manizales
Luis Héctor Cardinal Villalba: Archbishop emeritus of Tucumán
Júlio Duarte Cardinal Langa: Bishop emeritus of Xai-Xai
Dieudonné Cardinal Nzapalainga: Archbishop of Bangui
Carlos Cardinal Osoro Sierra: Archbishop of Madrid
Sérgio Cardinal da Rocha: Archbishop of Brasília
Blase Joseph Cardinal Cupich: Archbishop of Chicago
Patrick Cardinal D’Rozario: Archbishop of Dhaka
Baltazar Enrique Cardinal Porras Cardozo: Archbishop of Mérida
Jozef Cardinal De Kesel: Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel
Maurice Cardinal Piat: Bishop of Port-Louis
Carlos Cardinal Aguiar Retes: Archbishop of Mexico
John Cardinal Ribat: Archbishop of Port Moresby
Joseph William Cardinal Tobin: Archbishop of Newark
Anthony Soter Cardinal Fernandez: Archbishop emeritus of Kuala Lumpur
Renato Cardinal Corti: Bishop emeritus of Novara
Sebastian Koto Cardinal Khoarai: Bishop emeritus of Mohale’s Hoek
Jean Cardinal Zerbo: Archbishop of Bamako
Juan José Cardinal Omella Omella: Archbishop of Barcelona
Anders Cardinal Arborelius: Bishop of Stockholm
Lousi-Marie Cardinal Ling Mangkhanekhoun: Vicar Apostolic of Vientiane
Gregorio Cardinal Rosa Chávez: Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador
Joseph Cardinal Coutts: Archbishop of Karachi
António Augusto Cardinal dos Santos Marto: Bishop of Leiria-Fátima
Pedro Ricardo Cardinal Barreto Jimeno: Archbishop of Huancayo
Désiré Cardinal Tsarahazana: Archbishop of Toamasina
Giuseppe Cardinal Petrocchi: Archbishop of L’Aquila
Thomas Aquino Manyo Cardinal Maeda: Archbishop of Osaka
Sergio Cardinal Obeso Rivera: Archbishop emeritus of Jalapa
Toribio Cardinal Ticona Porco: Prelate emeritus of Corocoro
Renato Cardinal Martino: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Angelo Cardinal Amato: Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Robert Cardinal Sarah: Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Francesco Cardinal Monterisi: Archpriest emeritus of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke: Patron of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta
Kurt Cardinal Koch: President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Paolo Cardinal Sardi: Patron emeritus of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta
Mauro Cardinal Piacenza: Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi: President of the Pontifical Council for Culture
Elio Cardinal Sgreccia: President emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life
Walter Cardinal Brandmüller: President emeritus of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences
Manuel Cardinal Monteiro de Castro: Major Penitentiary emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary
Santos Cardinal Abril y Castelló: Archpriest emeritus of St. Mary Major
Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Giuseppe Cardinal Bertello: President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State and President of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State
Francesco Cardinal Coccopalmerio: President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
João Cardinal Bráz de Aviz: Prefect of the Consecration for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
Edwin Frederick Cardinal O’Brien: Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepuclhre of Jerusalem
Domenico Cardinal Calcagno: President emeritus of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See
Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi: Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education
Prosper Cardinal Grech: Priest of the Archdiocese of Malta
James Michael Cardinal Harvey: Archpriest of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls
Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri: Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller: Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Beniamino Cardinal Stella: Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy
Dominique Francois Joseph Cardinal Mamberti: Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
Luigi Cardinal De Magistris: Major Pro-Penitentiary emeritus
Karl-Josef Cardinal Rauber: Apostolic Nuncio emeritus to Belgium and Luxembourg
Mario Cardinal Zenari: Apostolic Nuncio to Syria
Kevin Joseph Cardinal Farrell: Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life
Ernest Cardinal Simoni: Priest of the Diocese of Shkodrë-Pult
Luis Francisco Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer: Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Angelo Cardinal De Donatis: Archpriest of St. John Lateran and Vicar General for the Vicariate of Rome
Giovanni Angelo Cardinal Becciu: Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Konrad Cardinal Krajewski: Almoner of His Holiness
Aquilino Cardinal Bocos Merino: Superior General emeritus of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
*Over time, there have been some mergers and splits among these seven sees, but today they are: Albano, Frascati, Ostia, Palestrina, Porto-Santa Rufina, Sabina-Poggio Mirteto and Velletri-Segni.
*The title of Ostia is given to the Dean in addition to his own titular diocese. It has no bishop of its own and it is governed by the vicar-general for the Vicariate of Rome, currently Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, who himself will be made a cardinal today.
***This may be one of the reasons for today’s changes. If a conclave were to be held now, its proceedings would be overseen by Maronite Patriarch Béchara Cardinal Raï, himself not a Roman prelate. This would be so because the dean, at 90, is too old to participate in a conclave and his duties would then automatically fall to the senior cardinal-bishop who is also an elector. Cardinal Raï is the sole elector among the cardinal-bishops today.