Francis’ first class – consistory called for February

cardinalsAfter a few days of rumours, it was confirmed today: Francis’ first class of cardinals is to be created on 22 February 2014, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. This places it a year and four days after Pope Benedict XVI next-to-last consistory which saw, among others, the creation of Cardinal Wim Eijk.

As February 2014 dawns, there will be 106 electors in the College of Cardinals, members who can vote in a conclave and also hold seats in the various dicasteries of the Curia. That is 14 below the flexible maximum number of 120, so Pope Francis could create as many as 14 new voting cardinals, which is a pretty standard number for a consistory. Added to that me be a number of non-voting cardinals, as Benedict XVI did in five of his six consistories. Likely candidates seem to be Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Archbishop Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family; and of course Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State.

But that’s just in the Curia. As to what diocesan bishops and archbishops may be created cardinals, the field seems to be wide open. Pope Francis most likely does not feel bound by the traditional cardinalatial sees, but much more by the person of a future cardinal. Coupled with his focus on the poor, we should perhaps not be surprised if a fair number of the new cardinals come from South America, Africa and Asia.

léonardIn the Low Countries, the eyes are of course on Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, the great archbishop of Brussels. If elevated to the College of Cardinals, he would be the eight in a line of cardinals which began with Cardinal Engelbert Sterckx, created by Pope Gregory XVI in 1838.

Regarding other parts of the globe, the great guessing game is once more gearing up, and here is my tentative attempt at participating in it. The Holy Father may wish to focus  especially on the aforementioned three continents of South America, Africa and Asia (the latter two notoriously underrepresented in the College of Cardinals which, it must be said, is not intended to be a representative body. For Pope Francis however, representation may be desirable) as part of the continuing reform of both the College of Cardinals and the Roman Curia. But, as far as the latter is concerned, the most effective first step is probably found in the field of appointments, and not in new cardinals yet.

Photo credit: [1] Michael Kappeler/DPA/Abaca Press/MCT

Pope facts

pope francisAs the enthusiasm, even in the secular media, for Pope Francis hasn’t much waned since his election, here are some interesting facts about the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church.

First of all there is his choice of name. No other Pope before him was called Francis. The last time a Pope chose a name that had not been used before was in 1978, when Pope John Paul I was elected, although he chose a combination of two existing names. For a fully new name, we have to go back to 913, when Pope Lando started his reign of less than a year. Unlike John Paul I, Pope Francis does not have a “I” after his name, since there is no other Pope Francis in past or present to confuse him with. John Paul I did add the “I” to indicate that he was neither John XIV or Paul VII.

Pope Francis is also the first Pope from the Jesuit order. The last Pope to come from a religious order was Leo XIII in 1878. He was a Secular Franciscan. The last Pope to have made public religious vows was Gregory XVI in 1831, who was a Camaldolese monk.

Pope Francis’ age is only slightly noteworthy. At 76, he is two years younger than Benedict XVI was at his election. In fact, he is the second-oldest Pope since Blessed John XXIII, who was some 7 months older at his election. In general, Popes have rarely been in their 70s when elected. The aforementioned John XXIII, Benedict XVI and Francis are among them, but the next one we encounter if we go back in history is Pope Clement XII, who was 78 when he was elected in 1730.

As has been widely reported, Pope Francis is the first Pope to hail from the New World. None before him have come, as he himself put it in his first public words after his election, “from the ends of the earth”. The last Pope from outside Europe was St. Gregory III in 731. He came from what is now Syria. Pope Francis is the third Pope in a row from outside Italy, although he does have Italian roots.

Lastly, in the style of my earlier overview of modern conclaves:

  • 12-13 March 2013: 115 cardinals elected Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Pope Francis. The election took 5 ballots.

Photo credit: l’Osservatore Romano

The actual title churches, or, how guessing gets you nowhere

Cardinal Eijk holding the bull of his assigned title church

Last week, I tried to predict which title churches and deaconries the new cardinals would be getting. While much was guesswork, I did succeed in making a few reasonable guesses: Sant’ Atanasio might go to Cardinal Muresan or Cardinal Alencherry; Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario to Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal Collins; San Gioacchino ai Prati di Castello to Cardinal Eijk; San Bernardo alle Terme to Cardinal Alencherry; San Giuseppe all’ Aurelio to Cardinal Woelki; San Gerardo Maiella to Cardinal Duka; Santissimo Redentore e Sant’ Alfonso in Via Merulana to Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal Collins; Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio to Cardinal Ries. I also suggested to San Patrizio would remain vacant and that San Teodoro would go to a cardinal with some link with the Orthodox Churches.

Well, in the end I guessed right three times: Cardinal Allencherry did get San Bernardo alle Terme, Cardinal Dolan got Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario, Cardinal Muresan got Sant’ Atanasio.

Here is the full list of new cardinals with their title churches and deaconries

  • Fernando Cardinal Filoni, Cardinal-deacon of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio
  • Manuel Cardinal Monteiro de Castro, Cardinal-deacon of San Domenico di Guzman
  • Santos Cardinal Abril y Castellò, Cardinal-deacon of San Ponziano
  • Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò, Cardinal-deacon of San Cesareo in Palatio
  • Giuseppe Cardinal Bertello, Cardinal-deacon of Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia
  • Francesco Cardinal Coccopalmerio, Cardinal-deacon of San Giuseppe del Falegnami
  • João Cardinal Bráz de Aviz, Cardinal-deacon of Sant’ Elena fuori Porta Prenestina
  • Edwin Frederick Cardinal O’Brien, Cardinal-deacon of San Sebastiano al Palatino
  • Domenico Cardinal Calcagno, Cardinal-deacon of Santissima Annunciazione della Beata Vergine Maria a Via Ardeatina
  • Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi, Cardinal-deacon of Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio
  • George Cardinal Alencherry, Cardinal-priest of San Bernardo alle Terme
  • Thomas Christopher Cardinal Collins, Cardinal-priest of San Patrizio
  • Dominik Cardinal Duka, Cardinal-priest of Santi Marcellino e Pietro
  • Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk, Cardinal-priest of San Callisto
  • Giuseppe Cardinal Betori, Cardinal-priest of San Marcello
  • Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal-priest of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario
  • Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki, Cardinal-priest of San Giovanni Maria Vianney
  • John Cardinal Tong Hon, Cardinal-priest of Regina Apostolorum
  • Lucian Cardinal Muresan, Cardinal-priest of Sant’ Atanasio
  • Julien Cardinal Ries, Cardinal-deacon of San Antonio de Padova a Circonvallazione Appia
  • Prosper Cardinal Grech, Cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria Goretti
  • Karl Josef Cardinal Becker, Cardinal-deacon of San Giuliano Martire
San Callisto

As you will have noticed when comparing this list to the one in my previous post, there are five new deaconries and one new title church on the list. The Holy Father is free to create and abolish such churches as he sees fit, of course, but it’s interesting to wonder why some titles remain vacant as new ones are created.

Cardinal Eijk’s title church is San Callisto, located in Trastevere. The church itself dates from the 17th century, although there has been a church dedicated to Saint Pope Callistus I since the 8th century. The holy pope himself reigned in the 3rd century and was martyred and buried on the site where his church now stands. As cardinal-priest of this church, Cardinal Eijk succeeds Corrado Cardinal Ursi, the former archbishop of Naples who died in 2003. The later Popes Pius VII (pope from 1800 to 1823) and Gregory XVI (1831 to 1846) also held this title church.

It is a fairly small church, as Roman churches go, with a single aisle and chapels on either side.

In essence, a cardinal will have little to do with his title church or deaconry, although some are tasked with the financial upkeep of their assigned church or deaconry. All such churches, though, will prominently feature the coat of arms of their cardinal-protector on the facade.