Jul 282010

q.v. July 19, 2010 post ‘Pope Benedict XVI becomes the 7th oldest pope’
July 24, 2010 post ‘Pope Benedict XVI Was The 5th Oldest To Be Elected Pope (Since 1400)’
June 24, 2010 post ‘The youngest popes; John XII probably having been a teenager’

Given the continued ongoing interest from around the world [actually 116 countries] in my July 19 post that the current pope, Benedict XVI (#266), is now the 7th oldest pope (as of 1400), I feel compelled to fill in some of the other ‘gaps’ when it comes to papal statistics. That is why I did the July 24 post as to who the ten oldest were, when elected (again as of 1400).

When we continue along this path of oldest, youngest etc., the next obvious question has to do with how long the popes have reigned.

Whereas it is impossible to find meaningful birth dates for the popes that came prior to 1400, we do have the data for the ‘length of papacy’ for all 256 papacies that occurred prior to that of the current pope, though some of these ‘reign lengths’ are estimates — particularly in the case of the first 17 popes and many in the 10th century. Nonetheless, utilizing the best available estimates we can construct a fairly decent picture as to the trends vis-à-vis papal reigns.

The average length of the 265 papacies, prior to that of Benedict XVI, is 7.2 years.

So, Benedict XVI, who is in his fifth year, is below the average. As I have previously stated, this pope could break quite a few papal records in his lifetime.

Here is the chart of the distribution of the length of papacies for the prior 255 popes:

length of papacies by Anura Guruge

The annotations in the bottom axis have been rounded up. So when I say ‘1-5 years’ what I really mean is ‘1 to 4.99 years’! OK? Get it? So if you want to be precise, it is 1-4.99, 5-9.99, 10-14.99 etc. OK?

Most of you will immediately know three of the four popes who reigned for more than 25 years; viz. Pius IX (#256) 31 years, John Paul II (#265) 26 years and Leo XIII (#257) 25 years. It might take you a second to realize who the fourth has to be. St. Peter (#1), per the well established tradition of “Peter’s Years.”

IF you don’t have ‘regnal dates’ for all of the popes … << click here >> for a PDF with all that information. It is, in fact, Appendix A of my ‘The Next Pope’ book — but, you can have it for free. << smile >>

So basically this is what we have. 73 papacies (27.5%) were between one and 4.99 years long. 63 papacies (23.7%) were between 5 and 9.99 years long. 48 papacies (18%) lasted less than one year

Jul 252010

We are at 107 cardinal electors, now that U.S. Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick turned 80 on July 8, 2010.

Per the 120 cardinal elector limit set in 1973 by Paul VI (#263) we currently have 13 cardinal elector vacancies.

On August 30, 2010 French Cardinal Paul Poupard will turn 80. Three other cardinals will celebrate their 80th birthday in September. At the start of 2011 we will have AT LEAST 19 cardinal elector vacancies; i.e., cardinal electors down to 101 (or even below). There is nothing ‘wrong’ with this. Between 1586 and 1958, the TOTAL size of the College was capped at 70. << Please refer to chart on right. >>

It has now been 971 days since the last cardinal creating consistory. This gap is still well within the norms.

Pope Benedict XVI (#266), per MY ‘number of cardinals created per months as pope’ metric is now at 0.60. The mean for the last 8 popes is 0.57. So, yet again, he is well within the bounds. So the details are:

The current chatter is that the next cardinal creating consistory will be either in late 2010 or the Spring of 2011. I am beginning to favor a pre-Easter conclave. Conclaves in February and March have been relatively popular (as of 1900) — though not as much as December or June consistories.

A snapshot of where we stand with the College of Cardinals is as follows. Please click on chart for a detailed 6 page chart.

The next two charts enable you to compare Pope Benedict XVI’s cardinal creating with those of the other popes since 1900.
The third chart provides a snapshot of all 55 cardinal creating consistories held since 1900. Notice that Mondays used to be the accepted day for such consistories. The highlighted dates show patterns when it comes preferred dates.

Jul 242010

q.v. July 19, 2010 post ‘Pope Benedict XVI becomes the 7th oldest pope’
June 18, 2010 post ‘The oldest pope. Benedict XVI, the current pope, is the 8th oldest (as of 1400)’
June 24, 2010 post ‘The youngest popes; John XII probably having been a teenager’

Pope Clement X, the oldest when elected pope

Pope Clement X who was nearly 80 when elected pope

Benedict XVI (#266), the current pope, is now the 7th oldest of the popes (albeit as of 1400). It will be February 29, 2012, before he can be the 6th oldest, a berth current held by his friend and predecessor John Paul II (#265). [Again, all the comparisons are as of 1400, since we don’t have reliable birth dates for the popes prior to that.]

In marked contrast to the adjacent slots they currently hold, in terms of their ages, there was a big difference in the ages at which they were elected. Benedict XVI was elected 3 days after his 78th birthday, the conclave that elected him starting two days after his birthday. Benedict XVI, the third to be elected in their 78th year, is the 5th oldest to be elected (as of 1400). John Paul II, on the other hand, was 20 years younger.

In my June 18, 2010 post I did list the 5 oldest (since 1400) to be elected pope. But, I didn’t go into too much detail, nor provide added context by listing those that came directly below the pope.

This chart, in the same vein as the 11th oldest popes (as of 1400) that has proved to be so popular, provides a detailed picture of the ten oldest to be elected pope (as of 1400). I included the ‘cardinal’ and ‘conclaves’ column to add more perspective. The ‘cardinal’ number is the length of time prior to becoming pope, while the ‘conclaves’ denotes the number of conclaves attended — the last of which would have been the conclave at which they got elected. ‘The number of conclaves attended’ is an interesting metric. Eleven (11) of the 15 popes elected since 1800 were elected in the FIRST conclave they attended. Benedict XVI who was elected at his third conclave was an anomaly! This was such a noticeable trend that I started calling it the ‘first-time papabili‘ factor — and used it in selecting my 2009 list of papabili.

<< click on the chart to get a larger version >>

Oldest to be elected pope since 1400, Benedict XVI the 5th oldest -- by Anura Guruge

Oldest to be elected pope since 1400, Benedict XVI the 5th oldest -- by Anura Guruge

The average age, at election, of the 62 popes since 1400 is 62.4 years.

Notice that the two oldest, i.e., Clement X (#240) and Alexander VIII (#242), are only separated by one intervening pope. That happened to be Innocent XI (#241) who was 65. Alexander VIII’s relatively brief 15 month papacy was followed by Innocent XII (#243) — who was 76 when elected. So there were three post-75 popes within a span of four popes between April 1670 and July 1691. [All four were elected in tense, lengthy conclaves, with much wrangling between the then powerful European nations, in particular France and Spain.]

In reality, the propensity towards older popes during that period is even greater. Five of the eight popes between April 1670 and July 1730 appear in the above top 10 list! But, in between there was also Clement XI (#244), who came after Innocent XII. He was 51; the seventh or eight youngest (since 1400). [Innocent VIII (#214) was also elected when 51. However, his exact age, beyond that he was 51 unknown. Thus, we can’t say for sure which of these two are the youngest.]

Note how Clement X was but a cardinal for 5 months (due to a checkered career working in diverse roles for his successors) before getting elected pope. Two 20th century popes, who happened to be consecutive, also had very briefs stints as cardinals before getting elected; viz. Benedict XV (#259) [101 days as a cardinal] and Pius XI (#260) [238 days as a cardinal].

I did some additional statistical research and analysis on the papacies of the 62 popes since 1400. I will publish some of that in a few days … in an effort to keep this data in ‘bite size’ chunks.

Thank you.

Jul 212010

I got a heads-up this morning. Vatican Radio covered our July 19 post. There was also a video clip.

Vatican Radio covers the July 19 post by Anura Guruge

Vatican Radio covers our July 19 post

Here is the body of the story and where they got my bio, from 12 years ago, is a mystery. Maybe they had a file on me in the Vatican archives. << smile >>

Radio Vatican's full post of Anura Guruge's July 19 Benedict XVI story

Radio Vatican full post

There was also this cover story in another Italian publication. This story was also covered by ‘The Seismograph‘ site, that shows links to Catholic news in 5 languages, yesterday. Vatican Radio picked up the story from them.

This was good. We had a TON of visits and page views.

Jul 192010

q.v. June 18, 2010 post ‘The oldest pope. Benedict XVI, the current pope, is the 8th oldest (as of 1400)’

Today, July 19, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI (#266) leapfrogs over Gregory XIII (#227) to become the 7th oldest pope — albeit as of 1400 (dates prior to that being too unreliable for meaningful comparisons).

When he turned 83 on April 16, 2010, just 3 days ahead of his 5th anniversary as pope, he became the 10th oldest pope (as of 1400).

But, the three popes that had died in their 83rd year did so fairly soon after that birthday, with Gregory XIII living the longest of the three at 83 years, 3 months and 3 days (total of 30,409 days).

As of July 19, 2010, the current pope, Benedict XVI is 30,410 days old.

Here is the latest chart, as of July 19, 2010:

As mentioned in my June 18, 2010 post, the pope is now in a berth that he is no doubt very comfortable and familiar with — right next to his long-term mentor and predecessor, John Paul II (#265).

Benedict will not overtake John Paul II until 2012, February 29, 2012 to be precise — a leap-year day no less. [Note that John Paul II lived exactly 31,000 days. Is that a coincidence?]

Given his current hearty constitution (despite the stresses he faces) and modern health care, it would appear that he would go even further, challenging the two popes who died in their 85th year. He would sail past Innocent XII (#243) at the end of October 2012. By the start of 2013 he could be in the 4th oldest spot. He could probably even aspire for the higher slots!

As this juncture, I was (as is my wont) curious whether there had been instances where successive popes ended up close to each other in terms of their final age.

There have been three instances, as of 1400:

1/ Pius VI (#251) and Pius VII (#252) — both when 81.

2/ Gregory XII (#206) and Innocent VII (#205) — both when 69.

3/ Leo XI (#233) and Paul V (#234) — the former at 69 and Paul at 68.

As discussed earlier, it is possible that the current, ever so familiar ‘adjacency’ between Benedict and John Paul will cease to be down the road … with Benedict enjoying prolonged longevity.

I will, if I am still around, keep on updating these numbers and charts so that YOU can stay on top of this.

Thank you.

Anura Guruge

Jul 072010
Click for a 6 page PDF (111KB) of the College of Cardinals Stats

Click for a 6 page PDF (111KB) of the College of Cardinals Stats

To help us keep on top of any fluctuations in papabili dynamics and enable us to speculate on potential conclave politics, I try to maintain up to-date statistical and demographic data on the College of Cardinals on my papam blog.

I now also have the relevant stats in tabular form — as a 6-page, Adboe Acrobat PDF [which was 111KB as of the July 15 update]. I find that this tabular format permits easier assimilation of the data and trends. My goal is to keep on adding more rows (and thus pages) to this table as time permits.

I have now added pertinent demographics (with percentages per category) per Vatican ‘continent’ — in addition to doing it in terms of West Europe, East Europe, USA and Canada. Having it at this granularity provides some interesting insights. The College, in total, has 27 cardinal deacons — they are, however, all from Europe and the USA [with 4 from Eastern Europe]. The only non-European suburbicarian see Cardinal Bishop is from Africa, viz. Cardinal Francis Arinze. Of the 32 cardinals belonging to religious orders, 34% are from the Americas with just 2 from Africa. The 4 living cardinals created by Paul VI [#263] are all from the Americas. So that is the level of detail you can get from this table.

Just a small sample from the table

I have a fairly large Excel spreadsheet that I now use to generate these numbers. I have resorted to using formulas such as this so that the counting is done automatically for me.

[Yes, I used to be a programmer, an Assembler and a microcode programmer at that in the 1970s for IBM.]

If needed I can go further with this data. As you will see, I have done demographics for the USA and Canada. I can do it for any country that I want. Just need to change the country code. Yes, there is a slight chance that a number or two may be wrong because the formula is in error. I plan to spend an hour or so tonight going through each formula by hand. Let me know what you think.

Click here for the latest table.


Jul 042010

The appointment of Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a Sulpician, my #3 papabili from way back in 2009, as the Prefect of the influential Congregation for Bishops, on June 30, 2010, got me curious as to how Canadian cardinals had done in terms of senior curial posts. So I did some quick research.

It is indeed true that Marc Ouellet is the first Canadian, and the first Sulpician, to head up the Congregation for Bishops.

But, other than for this very specific achievement there is nothing extraordinary about this appointment.

Cardinal Ouellet is not the first cardinal from the Americas to head up the Congregation for Bishops. He is not the first Canadian to head up a curial dicastery. He is not the first Sulpician to head up a curial dicastery. He is not even the first Canadian Sulpician to head up a curial dicastery! Please read THIS POST for more details on this.

But there are other things that I found during my research. On the whole Canada, most likely due to the ‘dollar’ prosperity of its congregation within the same bounds as the even more prosperous brethren to the South, has done rather well when it has come to Cardinals — given that it only has ~14 million Catholics, making it 17th in rank, worldwide, in terms of its Catholicity. I compiled this table for comparison < please click on it to enlarge >:

Cardinal Statistics For Canada vs. Those For Some Other Countries

Cardinal Statistics For Canada vs. Those For Some Other Countries

The Philippines has 5 times MORE Catholics than Canada.  But they have had 6 cardinals in total to Canada’s 15.

Argentina has 2.5 times MORE Catholics than Canada.  But they have had 11 cardinals in total to Canada’s 15.

Mexico has 7 times MORE Catholics than Canada.  But they have had 10 cardinals in total to Canada’s 15.

Brazil has over 9 times MORE Catholics than Canada, but they only have 4 cardinal electors to Canada’s 2.

The Philippines despite having 5 times MORE Catholics than Canada currently has the same number of cardinal electors, i.e., 2.

It is also interesting to see when Canada got its first cardinal compared to the other, more Catholic, countries — the year being 1886, eleven years after that of the first US cardinal and the same year the the US got its second. Mexico got it first cardinal in 1958, the Philippines 1960! [Australia, whose Catholic population is unlikely to have ever exceeded 6 million, had its first cardinal in 1885 — albeit, with the Irish-born Patrick Moran. So, Australia, another British Commonwealth country, like Canada, is in the very elite cadre of countries, outside of Europe and the Middle East, to have had a cardinal prior to the 20th century.

That cardinals are a means for generating revenues for the Holy See has been a well entrenched and exploited notion since the middle ages. Initially it was the notion of rewarding the Holy See for a cardinalate, hence the existence of very, very young cardinals from wealthy families, e.g., Cardinal-Prince Fernando de Austria (10 years old in 1619), Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici [Leo X (#218)] (13 in 1489) and Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici (14 in 1563). In time, this progressed into the financial ‘rain making’ that could be done by a cardinal during his tenure, with US cardinals, in particular, Chicago’s Cardinal John Patrick Cody (1907-1982) being the epitome, proving to be extremely adapt ‘rain makers’ thanks to their wealthy congregations. Prior to the 1922 conclave, the Camerlengo, Cardinal Gasparri, sent a telegram to the nuncio in the US to make sure that the US cardinals will bring along all available surplus funds. Canada, obviously, also benefits from the potential ‘rain making’ talents of the cardinals.

At some point this totally unrepresentative allocation of cardinals will have to come to an end.

The US, buffeted by both an economic downturn and the fallout of the clergy sex abuse scandal, is not generating anything like the revenues it did in the past for the benefit of the Vatican. Church attendance is also falling. In contrast, Catholicism continues to flourish in the Latin American countries. At some point the Catholics in these countries are going to wise up.

Given that the current system (sans the the conclaves) came to be close to a 1,000 years ago, it is indeed safe to say that the electoral process new popes is antiquated, Electoral reform could rejuvenate the Church. But, it is hard to see the current pope getting around to tackle it. There are two major impediments. He has his hands full dealing with the clergy abuse scandal, and even if he had any bandwidth leftover after that, it is unclear whether he, an avowed traditionalist, would want to tinker with tradition.

More on possible electoral reform in a later post.

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