There has been some discussions in the comments section of this blog, of late, as to the age statistics of past cardinal creations and by implication how that could influence who may be created at the next consistory.
Earlier today I posted an unvetted list by a Louis Epstein of the youngest cardinals created since 1901. There is already a comment that Wojtyla, John Paul II (#265), at 47, and Ratzinger, Benedict XVI (#266), at 50, should also be mentioned. I added a few other names, albeit all before 1901. Pecci, Leo XIII (#257), just prior to the start of Louis’ table was 43. Chiaramonti, Pius VII (#252), was 42. Cardinal Fernando de Austria, in 1619, was even younger. He was 10. We have also had two Medicis who were created young; one at 13 (and he went onto become the youngest pope since 1400) and the other at 14.
25 or 25 Years Old In Order To Be Created A Cardinal
Canon Law, as with the case with papal eligibility, does not explicitly specify a minimum age as to when one can be created a cardinal. One, however, could argue that it is probably 25 and at worse 35. Since 1917 Canon Law has required that one needs, at a minimum, to have been ordained a priest before being created a cardinal. The 1917 Canon Law also required that one has to have reached the age of 25 to be ordained a priest. So this gives us the minimum 25. The 1983 Canon Law requires that a cardinal, unless exempted by the pope, needs to be a bishop — though (as with becoming a pope) the episcopal consecration can occur after the appointment. Current Canon Law requires that one needs to be 35 to be a bishop — but this is definitely something a pope could easily override.
There is not much to be gained debating this much further. There does not appear to be anybody under 35 in contention to be created — unless the pope has a ‘nephew’ that we do not know about.
I had interjected, in a comment last night, that I thought that African cardinals were created younger than those from other ‘countries.’ I said that without checking, just based on the numbers that I remembered seeing. Today I checked. I was very close, as you will see. [[ But, I won’t ask for a cigar. ]]
I looked at when all 179 of the LIVING cardinals were created. In this context it does not matter if they are electors or non-electors. We are going back in history to see their ages when created.
The average age when created was 64.8 years.
We have six who were created at 50 or younger; viz. Sales (Brazil) at 48 in 1969, Puljic (Bosnia) at 49 in 1994, Baum (USA) at 49 in 1976, Danneels (Belgium) at 49 in 1983, Meisner (Germany) at 49 in 1983 and Aponte Martinez (Puerto Rico) at 50 in 1973.
Including the above six we have a total of 47 living cardinals who were created before they were 60. That is 26% of current cardinals created before they were 60.
- Africa*****61.5 years
- Americas**63.0 years
- Asia****** 67.6 years
- Europe****65.8 years
- Oceania*** 61.0 years
Yes, you know I couldn’t stop at that. [What is the point of having a spreadsheet if you don’t drill down.]
- Italy***67.6 years
- Western Europe** 67.0 years
- Eastern Europe***62.6 years
- USA**** 62.8 years
- Canada * 61.6 years
- South America **65.3 years
- North America (bar USA) ***60.8 years
I do not think it is worth analyzing these age statistics any further. They are vaguely interesting but they do not portend to anything. Age is not going to be a deciding factor in the next crop of cardinals.
Yes, it would have been interesting to see the average age for curialist vs. pastors. But when I created my master cardinals spreadsheet a few years ago I did not include ‘title when created.’ I have all their current titles but that does not tell me what they were doing when created. Yes, of course, I can go back and add that field. Not sure it is worth it. Too many irons in the fire and another book in the works. [No it is not about popes or even cardinals. Astronomy.]