After a seven-month vacancy, the Catholic Church has a Chamberlain again. Not that that makes any difference for the time being, but there are a few interesting implications all the same. The Chamberlain of the Apostolic Camera exercises his duties, in cooperation with the vice-chamberlain and other officials, when there is no pope. These duties include the notification of the world of a pope’s death, preparations for his funeral and the conclave for the election of a new pope, and the communication of financial reports of the various dicasteries, as well as the will of the late pope, to the College of Cardinals. While the government of the Catholic Church during a sede vacante lies with the College of Cardinals, the Chamberlain has just enough authority to allow the continued functioning of the aparratus of the Church, without making any changes or decisions.
In 2014, Pope Francis chose Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran as his chamberlain. Of course, he never exercised his duties before his death in July of last year. Today, Pope Francis announced Cardinal Tauran’s successor: Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell. The 71-year-old prelate, who serves as the prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is the first non-European to be chosen as chamberlain. Cardinal Farrell is Irish, but has long served in the United States before coming to Rome in 2016, first as auxiliary bishop of Washington under former cardinal (and, it is said, soon-to-be laicised) Theodore McCarrick, and then as bishop of Dallas. There has been a chamberlain since 1089, and the vast majority of them have been either Italian or French, with a two Spaniards and an Englishman thrown in for good measure.
Cardinal Farrell is not that surprising a choice, as he has been a close collaborator of the pope for the past few years. He was called in from Dallas to lead the newly-established Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, a duty which lies close to the heart of Pope Francis.
At 71, Cardinal Farrell may be expected to remain chamberlain until somewhere around his 80th birthday. Considering that Pope Francis will then be 90, it is not unimaginable that he actually get to exercise his duties when the time comes.
His body may not have cooperated always, but it never stopped Jean-Louis Tauran from working ceaselessly, travelling the world in the name of cooperation and goodwill between the world’s religions. The 75-year-old prelate, who earlier this month became the highest ranking Catholic cardinal to meet with the Saudi king on his home turf, raising hopes that the Arab kingdom would become more open to other faiths in the future, died unexpectedly last night. He had recently been undergoing treatment for Parkinson’s disease in the United States.
To the world, Cardinal Tauran became best known in 2013 when he announced, With a shaky voice due to his condition, the election of Pope Francis from the balcony of St. Peter’s.
A priest of the French Archdiocese of Bordeaux, Cardinal Tauran entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1975, working in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Lebanon and Syria. He was called to Rome in 1989 as undersecretary for Relations with States in the Secretariat of State, being promoted to full secretary in 1990. In 2003 he was one of St. John Paul II’s last 30 cardinals to be created, and at the same time he was appointed as librarian and archivist. Since 2007 until his death he held the offices which characterised his final years: president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and prefect of the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims. In 2011, Cardinal Tauran became the senior cardinal-deacon, which bestowed upon him the duty of announcing the name of a newly-elected pontiff, which he did in 2013. In 2014 he was elevated to the rank of cardinal-priests and in the same year Pope Francis chose him as his camerlengo, the prelate to manage the affairs of the Holy See upon the death of the pope. Cardinal Tauran was the Cardinal-Priest of Sant’Apollinare alle Terme Nerionane-Alessandrine.
Although Cardinal Tauran reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in April, there was no sign of it being accepted anytime soon. The new head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue needs to be an experienced diplomat, able to walk the tightrope between different systems of belief and morality without losing sight of his own roots. Whoever his successor will turn out to be, he will have large shoes to fill.
In the meantime, those who met him mourn a humble man of dialogue and truth and a tireless servant of the Gospel.
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.
Yesterday Pope Francis made two appointments which are largely dormant at the moment, but which are nonetheless interesting and a reflection of the Pope’s confidence in the men concerned. The Chamberlain and the Vice-Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church have great responsibility when a Pope dies or retires, as they make sure the daily affairs of the Holy See, as well as the preparations for the conclave, the papal funeral (if there is one) and the protection of the personal and professional assets of the deceased or retired pontiff, occur as needed.
The Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, published in 1998 by Pope St. John Paul II, describes the duties of the chamberlain as follows:
“When the Apostolic See falls vacant, it is the right and the duty of the cardinal camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, personally or through his delegate, to request reports from all the administrations dependent on the Holy See on their patrimonial and economic status as well as information on any extraordinary business that may at that time be under way, and, from the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See he shall request a financial statement on income and expenditures of the previous year and the budgetary estimates for the following year. He is obliged to submit these reports and estimates to the College of Cardinals (Art. 171, § 2).”
Until yesterday these positions were held by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the retired secretary of state, and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, retired secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Both performed their duties between the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis.
The choice of the chamberlains involves not only the suitability of the persons involved, but also the personal confidence the Pope has in time. After all, they take over from him once he dies or retires, and are therefore tasked with protecting their heritage as heads of state and spiritual leaders until a new Pope takes over.
Pope Francis chose Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (who, as Protodeacon, also announced the name of the new Pope following the conclave) as chamberlain, and Archbishop Giampiero Gloder as Vice-Chamberlain.
Cardinal Tauran (above, at right) remains the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and is also a member of two commissions overseeing the Vatican Bank. Aged 71, he may be expected to continue as such until his 75th, while the office of chamberlain will possibly be his until his 80th birthday.
Archbishop Gloder (above, at left) was appointed as President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the diplomacy school of the Holy See, in September of 2013, when he was also made a bishop. Before that he worked in the Secretary of State as Head of office for special affairs.
Even without digging into the details, I can comfortably say that 2013 has been the strangest, most unexpected, most challenging and most rollercoaster-like year in recent memory. From the historical retirement of Pope Benedict XVI to the long-awaited ad limina visit of the Dutch bishops, a Catholic blogger with his eye on current Church events had plenty of things to write about. A look back on the past twelve months.
“Dear fathers, dear mothers, let God be great amid your family, so that your children can grow up in the security of His love.”
Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, shortly after his consecration as Bishop of Regensburg, 26 January 2013
“…well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant…”
Pope Benedict XVI, 11 February 2013
The year really started on 11 February, with the shock announcement of Pope Benedict XVI that he would retire by the month’s end. So much of what would characterise the rest of 2013 has its roots in that decision and announcement. With it we started to wrap up a pontificate, with a lot of final things. The faithful were certainly loath to see Papa Benedetto go, as both his final generalaudiences and his last Angelus show. And then that last farewell came, for me the one moment which stands out in this year.
Pope Francis, first words to the world after his election, 13 March
In March a new chapter was opened. Whereas Pope Benedict XVI had educated us about the faith, Pope Francis would show us how to put it into practice. The tone was set from that first shy “good evening”. But before all that took place, we had to wait while the cardinal electors met and sketched a profile of the new pontiff. As the conclave opened, all eyes were on a humble chimney, about as humble as the Pope it announced after five ballots.
“Christ is everything for me, the centre of my life, from Baptism to death. He is the personification of God, showing us how to live in intimate union with God, how to literally embody that great and incomprehensible God. Or, as the Gospel of John tells us, “Anyone who has seen Me, has seen the Father”. When you become the Body of Christ together, you experience in a fundamental way that you belong together and support one another.”
Words from Bishop Tiny Muskens, quoted by Bishop Liesen in the eulogy for the late bishop of Breda.
A month of settling into the new papacy and all the impressions that brings. Things returned to normal, and an overview of April is basically a list of events, with no major overarching themes.
“I am very thankful that you have taken the effort to send me some words of support and solidarity after the protest action of the Femen group. Your words have been very comforting for me.”
Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, in a letter sent to those who wrote to him in support after the attack on him by leftwing protesters in April
A quiet month which nonetheless closed the the events of the first few months, as the Pope emeritus came home (pictured). In other events, we celebrated the Ascension of the Lord, Michael Voris commented on the state of the Church in the Netherlands, the bishops of Belgium offered a status report of the sexual abuse crisis in their country, Bishop de Korte responded to last month’s professors’ manifesto, The Pope did not perform an exorcism, nine new priests were to be ordained, and Archbishop Léonard sent a gracious letter to all those who supported him after the Femen attack.
“He was a bishop with a vision, not conservative in the sense that he wanted to return to the time before the Second Vatican Council. On the contrary, with heart and soul he wanted to be a bishop who stood in and for that council and wanted to put it into practice.”
Bishop Jan Hendriks remembers Bishop Jo Gijsen, who passed away on 24 June
I also made the first Dutch translation (as far as I was able to find) of Pope Benedict XV’s encyclical In Hac Tanta, on St. Boniface, and I wrote about the issue of same-sex marriage from the viewpoints of two seeming opposites.
“It is impossible to serve God without going to the human brother, met on the path of our lives. But it is also impossible to substantially love the neighbor without understanding that this is the Son of God himself who first became the neighbour of every man.”
Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, in the homily at the consecration of Bishop Jean-Pierre Delville of Liège, 14 July
“As John took Mary into his home, you took Bishop Bluyssen into your home. There is of course a great difference between giving someone a space to live and giving someone a home. You have done the latter.”
Bishop Antoon Hurkmans to the sisters of the Mariënburg monastery, 13 August
“I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”
“The Eucharist (which refers to the Last Supper of Jesus Christ) is the most important sacrament, in which the faithful celebrate their unity with God and each other.”
Wim Cardinal Eijk, responding to liturgical abuse by an overly creative priest, 7 October
In this very busy month, the Council of Cardinals got to work, and the first fruits of Pope Francis’ reforms became visible in the Synod of Bishops, which sent a questionnaire to the world’s Catholics at the end of the month. Rumours surfaced that the Dutch bishops would be going on their ad limina visit soon, rumours which would soon be confirmed. One of the most notable efforts to spring up in relation to this was the so-called Pauspetitie. Back home, Cardinal Eijk (pictured) made a stand against excessive liturgical abuse, which revealed how rotten some parts of the Church are. Later that month, the cardinal also wrote a letter to the faithful about church closings. In other news, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications’ Msgr. Paul Tighe spoke at the CNMC in Boston about the Holy See’s work in social media, and a solution was found for the Limburg situation. The Holy See announced a consistory for February, in which Pope Francis will be creating his first class of cardinals.
With the help of Fr. Roderick’s more faithful translation of last month’s papal interview, I drafted an improved English translation. All this before later developments would seriously invalidate the level of accuracy, as the interviewer admitted to not having recorded the interview or taking notes.
“Due to the aforementioned discrepancies, the draft text is to be withdrawn and revised, so that no pastoral directions are sanctioned which are in opposition to Church teaching. Because the text has raised questions not only in Germany, but in many parts of the world as well, and has led to uncertainties in a delicate pastoral issue, I felt obliged to inform Pope Francis about it.”
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, in a letter to the bishops of Germany, 11 November
A bit a weird month, mostly devoted to looking ahead to the upcoming ad limina, but there were also some other topics which needed discussion or correction.
First of all, there was good news as we learned that annual television spectacle The Passionwould be visiting my home town in 2014. The Dutch bishops decided on the fastest and most efficient means to deal with the Synod of Bishops’ questionnaire. On 19 November, Bishop Joseph Lescrauwaet passed away. Most attention internationally, however, was for Archbishop Müller’s letter to the German bishops, informing them that their pastoral initiative on marriage and the sacraments needed revising. In Germany, things remained rebellious. On the ad limina visit, Bishop de Korte looked ahead, and I took a closer look at the general report that the bishops published.
“Finally, the Pope also asked us a sort of question of conscience. Where do you yourself, as bishops, find the strength, your hope and joy amid all the concerns and problems? The Gospel must always be visible as the Good News of forgiveness, salvation and redemption. He urged us to always quench our thirst from that and communicate it to others. The Church, the Pope indicated, grows from an authentically experienced faith and through honest attraction. She is being sent to awaken and plant faith, hope and love in people.”
Bishop Jos Punt, looking back on the ad limina visit, 14 December
Jozéf Cardinal Glemp, Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere, passed away on 23 January, aged 83
Giovanni Cardinal Cheli, Cardinal-Deacon of Santi Cosma e Damiano, passed away on 8 February, aged 94
Julien Cardinal Ries, Cardinal-Deacon of Sant’Antonio di Padova a Circonvallazione Appia, passed away on 23 February, aged 92
Jean Cardinal Honoré, Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria della Salute a Primavalle, passed away on 28 February, aged 92
Bishop Bernard Rieger, auxiliary bishop emeritus of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, passed away on 10 April, aged 90
Lorenzo Cardinal Antonetti, Cardinal-Deacon of Sant’Agnese in Agone, passed away on 10 April, aged 90
Bishop Reinard Lettmann, bishop emeritus of Münster, passed away on 16 April, aged 80
Bishop Martinus Petrus Maria Muskens, bishop emeritus of Breda, passed away on 16 April, aged 77
Stanislaw Cardinal Nagy, Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria della Scala, passed away on 5 June, aged 91
Bishop Franz Xaver Eder, bishop emeritus of Passau, passed away on 20 June, aged 87
Bishop Joannes Baptist Matthijs Gijsen, bishop emeritus of Reykjavík, passed away on 24 June, aged 80
Simon Ignatius Cardinal Pimenta, Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria «Regina Mundi» a Torre Spaccata, passed away on 19 July, aged 93
Ersilio Cardinal Tonini, Cardinal-Priest of Santissimo Redentore a Valmelaina, passed away on 28 July, aged 99
Archbishop Ludwig Averkamp, archbishop emeritus of Hamburg, passed away on 29 July, aged 86
Bishop Johannes Willem Maria Bluyssen, bishop emeritus of ‘s Hertogenbosch, passed away on 8 August, aged 87
Medardo Joseph Cardinal Mazombwe, Cardinal-Priest of Sant’Emerenziana a Tor Fiorenza, passed away on 29 August, aged 81
Bishop Ernst Gutting, auxiliary bishop emeritus Speyer, passed away on 27 September, aged 94
Bishop Georg Weinhold, auxiliary bishop emeritus of Dresden-Meiβen, passed away on 10 October, aged 78
Domenica Cardinal Bartolucci, Cardinal-Deacon of Santissimi Nomi di Gesù e Maria in Via Lata, passed away on 11 November, aged 96
Bishop Joseph Frans Lescrauwaet, auxiliary bishop emeritus of Haarlem, passed away on 19 November, aged 90
Bishop Max Georg von Twickel, auxiliary bishop emeritus of Münster, passed away on 28 November, aged 87
Ricardo María Cardinal Carles Gordó, Cardinal-Priest of Santa Marie Consolatrice al Tiburtino, passed away on 17 December, aged 86
New appointments and consecrations in the dioceses of northwestern Europe:
Bishop Heiner Koch, auxiliary bishop of Köln, was appointed as bishop of Dresden-Meiβen on 18 January and installed on 18 March
Fr. Rudolf Voderholzer was consecrated as bishop of Regensburg on 26 January
Fr. Jean-Pierre Delville was appointed as bishop of Liège on 31 May and consecrated on 14 July.
Bishop Aloys Jousten retired as bishop of Liège on 31 May
Fr. Michael Gerber was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Freiburg im Freisgau on 12 June and consecrated on 8 September
Fr. Ansgar Puff was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Köln on 14 June and consecrated on 21 September
Fr. Johannes Wübbe was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Osnabrück on 18 June and consecrated on 1 September
Bishop Werner Radspieler retired as auxiliary bishop of Bamberg on 9 September
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch retired as archbishop of Freiburg im Breisgau on 17 September
Archbishop Nikola Eterovic was appointed as Apostolic Nuncio to Germany on 21 September; Archbishop Jean-Claude Périsset retired as such on the same day
Bishop Rainer Klug retired as auxiliary bishop of Freiburg im Breisgau on 21 November
In the past year, my blog enjoyed 113,702 visits, some 26,000 more than in 2012. The retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, the following conclave and the election of Pope Francis, the Scalfari interview and the corrected English translation I provided, the letter of Archbishop Müller to the German bishops and the upcoming election of the successor of Cardinal Meisner, Evangelii Gaudium and Cardinal Eijk’s sanction against the Dominican priest who was excessively creative are among the topics and events that drew most readers. A good year. Much gratitude and encouragement to continue merrily onwards into 2014.
What a month it has been. Beginning with the farewell of Pope Benedict XVI, we rode the waves of the sede vacante, the conclave and the election of Pope Francis, and various other events that added some lines to this blog. All in all, it took quite some work to keep these pages filled as things developed, so I hope that a few days of less communication is forgiven. But all the effort brought its own reward, as there was interest from across the globe in my writings. In total, I could chalk up 15,933 visits to these pages. That’s triple the number of a regular quiet month. Thank you!
On to the top 10 of most popular blog posts of March:
March has been crazy as far as the blog was concerned. I write these words in my free time, which is not always available in abundance. If you like what you read here, and appreciate the information I try to provide and keep as up to date as possible, think of making a donation to this blog’s upkeep. You will find a PayPal donation button in the left sidebar, and also below. Any donor can count on prayers and much appreciation from my part, and will contribute to a continued Catholic voice in new media.
A new face, definitely a new name, and plenty of memories of both Popes John Paul (in appearance and in the way he was received). From what little we have seen of him, it is clear that Pope Francis (no “the first”!) is not like his immediate predecessors. And yet, there is much that is familiar.
My first glimpse of him, in footage showing him walking towards the balcony, immediately reminded me of the stature of a Pope Paul VI, or perhaps John Paul I. On the balcony… well, what else could we feel but sympathy mixed with joy. What an undertaking he faces! Poor Pope Francis… But then he addressed the crowd, asked them to pray for and with him, as Benedict XVI was wont to do as well. And that smile that eventually broke through on his face: a second smiling Pope?
Yesterday, it would seem, we received a Pope who is truly a servants of the servants of God as the world best knows it: a man who is not afraid to approach the weak, the sick and the poor, who shuns pomposity and vanity and, as we soon learned, chose to take the bus with the other cardinals back to the Domus Sanctae Marthae, instead of taking the limousine that was waiting.
But that humility should not be taken for weakness or even simplicity. As his chosen papal name indicates, underneath the simplicity of his appearance and actions, not unlike his two immediate predecessors, lies a person of great strength and faith. Whereas Benedict XVI was the professor who taught us about the faith, Francis will be the older brother who walks with us and shows us the way in love and charity.
The new papal face and name will take some getting used. I will miss Benedict XVI, but I am also certain that I will soon come to love Pope Francis.
As an aside, you’ll notice some changes in the blog. In the left sidebar I have added the photo of then Pope in place of the seal of the sede vacante, and on the College of Cardinals page, which you can find via the tab above, I have made Cardinal Kasper a non-elector and removed the man who was once Cardinal Bergoglio.
Whereas a cardinal’s 80th birthday usually represent a pretty definite point beyond which he can no longer vote in a conclave, this is not so for Walter Cardinal Kasper. His 80th birthday, yesterday, fell in the sede vacante, and that means that he can still vote in the upcoming conclave. Only cardinals who mark their 80th before the See of Peter falls vacant lose that right.
Born in the heart of southern Germany, Walter Kasper became a priest of the Diocese of Rottenburg in 1957. He started his priestly ministry as a parish priest in Stuttgart, but soon returned to studying. In 1958 he earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology at the University of Tübbingen, where he also became a faculty member until 1961. Among other things, he was an assistant to Hans Küng. His academic career soon took flight, and included a teaching post in dogmatic theology in Münster and the job of dean of the theological faculty both there and in Tübbingen. In 1983, Father Kasper was a visiting professor at the Catholic University of America.
In 1989, returned to his native diocese, which by that time had been renamed as Rottenburg-Stuttgart, and he did as bishop. He would helm that diocese for ten years, and in 1994 he became co-chair of the International Commission for Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue, an appointment paving the way for his future.
Bishop Kasper was called to Rome in 1999 to become the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He became an archbishop then and in 2001 he was created a cardinal, with Ognissanti in Via Appia Nuova as his deanery. Today that church is his title church, as he was elevated to the ranks of the cardinal-priests in 2011. Upon his creation, Cardinal Kasper took over the presidency of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In 2010, Cardinal Kasper laid down his duties as president and retired, although he remained a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura until the sede vacante began last week.
Over the years, Cardinal Kasper has been one of the more visible curial cardinals, not least because of his critical approach to certain events and development, both within and without the Church. In 1993 he was one of the bishops who signed a letter allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments. He also criticised the 2000 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, claiming it was offensive to the Jews. In both cases, he was in an opposite position to Cardinal Ratzinger. On the other hand, his role in ecumenism also led to criticism from the more conservative wings of the Church. His ecumenical efforts were mainly aimed at the Orthodox Churches, and he led multiple Catholic delegations eastward. He also worked much towards mutual understanding between Catholic and Jews.
Most recently, he frankly spoke of miscommunications and mismanagement within the Curia, concerning the lifting of the excommunication of four St. Pius X Society bishops. Leading up to the papal visit to the United Kingdom in 2010, Cardinal Kasper perhaps too frankly about the secularism in that country, and in the end did not join the Pope on his visit.
With Cardinal Kasper’s 80th birthday the number of electors remains at 117. Only after the conclave does he become a non-elector.
There seems to be a general trend in the media to wonder what on Earth is keeping the five “absentee electors”. Cardinals Lehmann, Pham Minh Man, Nycz, Tong Hon and Naguib have missed the first three general congregations, although they are expected to arrive in Rome today or tomorrow. is it because they do not consider their duties in Rome very important, or because of travel distance, or something else altogether?
While we obviously can’t say anything about what any cardinal considers important, it is a safe bet to say that the entire College of Cardinals is well aware of their duties these days. Travel distance is also no longer a good excuse, not even for Cardinals Pham Minh Man and Tong Hon, who have to come from Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong respectively.
That leaves “something else” as a possible explanation. The five cardinals mentioned above all have on thing in common: they are ordinaries of a diocese, which is where their first responsibilities lie. So the explanation can be as simple as that: other duties kept the cardinals in Mainz, Ho Chi Minh City, Warsaw, Hong Kong and Alexandria a while longer. Is that a slight towards the other cardinals already gathered in Rome, or an attempt to influence the start date of the conclave? That is a standpoint that is far too cynical for my taste.
And in the case of Cardinal Naguib there is the added fact that his health is not as good as it once was. His recent retirement as Patriarch of the Coptic Catholics of Egypt was also granted for the same reason.
In a sede vacante, nothing, it seems, is permanent, not even the daily running of the Holy See. While Cardinals Bertone and Sodano, as Camerlengo and Dean of the College of Cardinals respectively, have certain specific duties, these do not extend as far as the duties that a Pope or the Curia in normal circumstances would have. We are all waiting, in this period, for normalcy to resume, but for that we need a visible head, a new Supreme Pontiff.
In the meantime, starting this morning, the cardinals are presented with the current affairs in the Church during their General Congregations and if a situation calls for it they can act together, or task one of their own to perform his duties as he would when there is a Pope. In the case of Cardinal Bertone, he is aided by three cardinals, one each from the orders of bishops, priests and deacons, in managing the Holy See. These three cardinals are appointed for three days only, another indication of the impermanence of their authority. For the first three-day period, which started yesterday and will end tomorrow, the names of Cardinals Giovanni Re, Crescenzio Sepe and Franc Rode were drawn by lot.
The actual decisions and actions undertaken during the General Congregations, and of course the conclave, are subject to an oath of secrecy that the cardinals made yesterday morning. Cardinal Wilfrid Napier (pictured above with Cardinal Collins before the start of the first Congregation), who is perhaps the most active tweeting cardinal at the moment, told his followers this morning: “Given that Pledge of Confidentiality covers matters discussed in General Congregations, only very general comments can be made. Keep praying.” Several cardinals have already shut down their Twitter account or gone radio silent until after the conclave. A full list of twittering cardinals can be found here.
But in the meantime, while much may get done, we are still awaiting the arrival of the final cardinal electors. Only after they arrive can a date for the conclave be decided upon. Until then, with the final arrived expected to be Hong Kong’s Cardinal John Tong Hon sometime tomorrow, the cardinals will continue meeting once a day in the morning.