Cardinal watch: Cardinal Rosales turns 80

In the Philippines yesterday, the erstwhile archbishop of one of Catholicism’s global hot spots turned 80. Gaudencio Borbon Cardinal Rosales thus lays down all his duties in the College of Cardinals, and the number of cardinal electors drops to 119.

Born into a physician’s family with political ties in Batangas City in 1932, Gaudencio Rosales expressed his desire to become a priest from a young age. Studying theology at the San José seminary, his ordination to the priesthood came in 1958. He was a priest of the Diocese of Lipa and was assigned to teach at that diocese’s seminary. Later he also became that institution’s rector.

In 1970, there followed Fr. Rosales’ first assignment to a backwater parish. Other priests advised him to leave soon, but Fr. Rosales replied that he would find things to do there. He made contacts with all the faithful of his parish and seemingly made an impression. The bishop, Msgr. Ricardo Vidal, also noticed, and had Fr. Rosales assigned to Batangas City, to the largest parish in the diocese.

In 1974, Fr. Rosales left Lipa, which by then was made an archdiocese, to take up his assignment, as auxiliary bishop of the nation’s capital, Manila. Principal consecrator was the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Bruno Torpigliani, and Archbishop Vidal was one of the co-consecrators. Bishop Rosales was given the titular see of Oescus in modern Bulgaria. As bishop, he was assigned to oversee several major districts of the archdiocese, and in 1980, he was tasked with the job of rector of the ancient San Carlos Seminary.

Two years, later Bishop Rosales appointed as coadjutor bishop of Malaybalay, on the major southern island of Mindanao. In 1984 he succeeded retiring Bishop Francisco Claver.

After eight years, Bishop Rosales had to leave Malaybalay behind him again, no doubt with pain in his heart, although he did return home as archbishop of his native Lipa. Eleven years later, in 2003, he was reassigned for a final time, again to a diocese familiar to him. Archbishop Rosales became the Primate of the Philippines as he took the see of Manila.

In Pope Benedict XVI’s first consistory, Archbishop Rosales was created a cardinal, with Santissimo Nome di Maria in Via Latina as his title church.

In 2007, upon reaching the age of 75, Cardinal Rosales tendered his resignation as archbishop of Manila, but it would take until 2011 before Rome accepted it. Yesterday he turned 80, leaving the Philippines with no cardinal electors. Until the next conclave, that is.

Cardinal Rosales was not silent. He was critical of the government when needed and defended the teachings of the Church, which lead to clashes, especially concerning the participation of drag queens in the national Flores De Mayo festival, and reminding the faithful about the risk of excommunication for anyone participating in or allowing an abortion. On the other side of the spectrum, he also got into a conflict with traditionalist groups when he heavily curtailed the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form. This led to an order from Rome to reconsider his opposition.

Cardinal Rosales was a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organisational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

Asian options

Archbishop Okada of Tokyo

Unnamed ‘sources in Rome’ appear to know that four Asian archbishops will be among the new cardinals to be created in October, if UCANEWS.com is to be believed. The buzz for a future consistory certainly seems to be increasing and many options are still open, judging by the lack of overlap in the predictions. Well, the Church does have a fair number of archbishops…   

The four new names of possible future cardinals (cardinalibile?) are those of Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada of Tokyo, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, India, and Archbishop Charles Maung Bo of Yangon. Archbishops Okada, Ranjith and Menamparampil all have close ties to Rome, while Archbishop Bo distinguished himself in the aftermath of hurricane Nargil in Myanmar.    

The article further refers to the possibility of a cardinal in Pakistan as a sign of support for the Christian community there. That would then have to be Archbishop Evarist Pinto of Karachi or Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore.    

Finally, the article shares my prediction of a new cardinal in the Philippines because of the upcoming retirement of Cardinal Vidal there.

Cardinals, a game of numbers

A flock of cardinals

I’ve been reading up a bit on the possibility for a consistory sometime this year. A consistory is a meeting of the College of Cardinals and the pope where new members are elevated to the cardinalate. The reason that one may be called this year is the relatively large number of cardinals to reach the age of 80 this and next year. Once they reach that age they can no longer participate in a conclave to elect a new pope. In 2010, 11 cardinals will turn 80 (one of them, Cardinal Ambrozic of Toronto, today actually), followed by 9 more in 2011 (among them the only Dutch cardinal, Cardinal Simonis).

This’ll bring down the number of electors to 92 at the end of 2011, unless a consistory is called before that. And that seems very likely, not least because it is more than two years since the last one. The identity of the new cardinals is anyone’s guess, but perhaps an indication may be found by taking a look at where the future octogenarians are from.

Hardest hit will be New Zealand, Lebanon, Cameroon, Latvia and the Netherlands, who will lose all their electors. Who will take their place?

  • In New Zealand, the see of Wellington has usually been occupied by a cardinal, so Archbishop John Atcherley Dew could be up for elevation there.
  • In Cameroon, any of the five archbishops seems likely. The country has a short history when it comes to cardinals, but looking at the diocesan connections of current Cardinal Tumi and the time in office of the other archbishops, we may see either Simon-Victor Tonyé-Bakot of Yaoundé or Antoine Ntalou of Garoua.
  • For the Netherlands there is really only one likely candidate, and that is Archbishop Wim Eijk of Utrecht. Recent archbishops of Utrecht have all eventually been elevated to the cardinalate, but the relatively short time in office of Archbishop Eijk may be reason to wait for a future consistory.
  • As for Latvia and Lebanon, any guess is as good as the next. Latvian Cardinal Janis Pujats is still active as archbishop of Riga and has no clear successor yet, and in Lebanon the mix of various brands of Catholicism with their respective patriarchs and bishops offers a number of options.

In Asia, the Philippines and South Korea will lose half their electors.

  • With 16 archbishops, there are numerous options in the Philippines. Cebu Archbishop Vidal will turn 80 but is still active, and he has two auxiliaries, one of whom may succeed him.
  • The same goes for South Korean Cardinal Cheong Jin-Suk, who is still working as archbishop of Seoul. The country only has three archbishops, so the choices are more limited. Daegu is currently vacant, so maybe Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou of Kwangju will be elevated.

Canada, France and Spain will each lose one-third of their electors, and Italy and the United States a little more than one-fifth. Any guess is as good as any with this approach, due to the sheer size and Catholic population of the countries.

Why is it important to keep the number of cardinals somewhat steady? Well, perhaps to maintain a relative decent representation of the world Church. That is the reason why, over the course of the past centuries, the maximum size of the College has been increased to 120 now (which is a relatively loose limit anyway). Small Church provinces, like the Netherlands, may be represented by a single cardinal, larger countries by more. The title of cardinal – it’s not an ordination or consecration –  is also given as a sign of office: high members of the curia in Rome may be elevated, or bishops of important dioceses. In fact, the title of cardinal is not limited to bishops, although in practice it usually is. When a priest is elevated to the cardinalate, he is usually also consecrated to bishop.

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