A place in Rome – the new cardinals and their title churches

collegeofcardinalsThree weeks before the first Francis-style consistory, a look at exactly what titles the new cardinals may be receiving. As always, it’s a guessing game, but an interesting one, which sheds a light on how the cardinals of the world Church are a part of the local Church of Rome, symbolising their unity with the See of Peter.

There will be 19 new cardinals, and only four of these will be Cardinal-Deacons, as they work in the Roman Curia. They are Cardinals-designate Pietro Parolin, Lorenzo Baldisseri, Gerhard Müller and Beniamino Stella. These four can be granted one of nine available Cardinal Deaconries (that is assuming Pope Francis won’t elevate any new ones, as he is free to do, even when there are existing deaconries vacant). They are:

  • Sant’Agnese in Agone
  • Sant’Anselmo all’Aventino
  • Sant’Antonio di Padova a Circonvallazione Appia
  • San Giovanni Battista Decollato
  • Santa Maria della Scalia
  • Santa Maria in Cosmedin
  • San Teodoro
  • Santi Cosma e Damiano
  • Santissimi Nomi di Gesù e Maria in Via Lata

Santa_maria_in_cosmedin2Most of these deaconries fell vacant only recently, with the exception of San Teodoro (since 2000), San Giovanni Battista Decollato (since 1988) and Santa Maria in Cosmedin (since 1967) (pictured). Assigning these three would be high time, then. San Teodoro, however, is used by the Greek Orthodox community in Rome, after Pope John Paul II granted them its use in 2000. Keeping this deaconry vacant would be a sign of good will that Pope Francis may well want to to extend.

The 15 other cardinals-designate will be Cardinal-Priests as they are ordinaries of dioceses, although three of them are retired. There are, however, only 13 Cardinal Titles available, so Pope Francis will either create some new ones, or (temporarily) elevate a few Cardinal-Deaconries to Titles. Below is the list:

  • Santa Cecilia
  • San Crisogono
  • Sant’Emerenziana a Tor Fiorenza
  • San Gioacchino ai Prati di Castello
  • San Giuseppe all’Aurelio
  • Sante Maria della Salute a Primavalle
  • Santa Maria in Trastevere
  • Santa Maria Madre della Provvidenza a Monte Verde
  • Santa Maria “Regina Mundi” a Torre Spaccata
  • Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino
  • San Roberto Bellarmino
  • Santissimo Redentore a Valmelaina
  • Santissimo Redentore e Sant’Alfonso in Via Merulana

San Roberto BellarminoFirst of all, this list contains Pope Francis’ own Cardinal Title of San Roberto Bellarmino (pictured), which he held until his election to the papacy. Maybe he’ll choose to keep to the pattern of that title being held by South American prelates, and he could even grant it to his own successor in Buenos Aires, Mario Poli. All these titles fell vacant in the past four years, so none is really in need of being filled immediately (if titles can ever be, of course). San Crisogono and Santa Maria in Trastevere are two of the oldest titles, dating back to the second century.

Originally the churches of the priests of Rome, and later those of the priests and deacons of Rome, and the bishops of the surrounding dioceses, who could elect the Pope, Cardinal Titles and Cardinal Deaconries today are largely ceremonial. The cardinals play no role in the daily affairs of their churches, although their coats of arms and names are usually present in the church somewhere. Some cardinals may even support their church financially or offer Mass in them when in Rome. Symbolically, the cardinals are a part of the Church’s foundation around Saint Peter in Rome, working with his successor in leading the Church.

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An exact handful for new cardinal titles

With the six-cardinal consistory of 24 November approaching, it is once again a good time to take a look at the available title churches or deaconries that the new cardinals will be receiving.

As of today, there are ten titles available, and only five cardinals awaiting one. Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï will not be receiving a title Church in Rome since he is not part of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. Instead, his own Maronite patriarchate of Antioch will also be his title. In a way, this reflects the fact that, in his Maronite Catholic Church, he holds a position similar to the pope in the Roman Catholic Church. He is the first bishop among equals, but the pope has further duties, rights and position that makes it possibly for the patriarch to be made a cardinal of the Church by the pope.

Cardinal-designate Raï position as patriarch will, however, mean that he will be a cardinal with the rank of Cardinal-Bishop. Upon his creation, there will be ten of these.

This leaves five cardinals who will be given a  title church. One of these, being a curial prelate,will be made a cardinal-deacon. He is Archbishop James Harvey, currently the prefect of the Papal Household, but after his creation he will become archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul-Ouside-the-Walls. There are five vacant cardinal deaconries, which could be given to him. The one with the longest pedigree is the ancient Santa Maria in Cosmedin (pictured at right), vacant since 1967. Also possible are two deaconries which only recently became vacant: Sant’Anselmo all’Aventino, last held by Cardinal Baldelli until his death in September; and San Pio V a Villa Carpegna, vacant since the passing of Cardinal Sánchez in March.

The four future cardinal-priest have a choice between ten vacant title churches. Among them are the late Cardinal Martini’s Santa Cecilia and Cardinal Shan Kuo-Hsi’s San Crisogono, which has been held by cardinals from South-America, Africa and Asia in succession, so it may well be given again this time around, to either Archbishops Onaiyekan, Salazar Gómez or Tagle.

Any guesses, with such as mall group of new cardinals, including the first Syro-Malankar cardinal, are just guesses. Of course, a new Roman church may be elevated to a cardinal title as well. There are a fair number of title churches which have relatively recently been made so, with only previous cardinal-protector. Guesswork. We’ll all find out on the 24th…

Photo credit: Lamré, Wikipedia