Mar 242011

by Anura Guruge

Following my two recent posts on the trends related to the death of cardinals it was inevitable that I was asked as to the trends related to when cardinals die. The good news is that contemporary cardinals enjoy exceptional longevity, way above the current life expectancy for the U.S. (78.4 years) and that for the world (67.2).

We haven’t had a cardinal elector die since April 19, 2008. That was Colombian Cardinal Bishop Alfonso López Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, at the age of 72 years and 5 months. (Thanks Mike for helping me get the date right.)

During the 10 year period, 2001 to 2010, only 15 cardinal electors have passed away.

life expectancy of cardinals by Anura Guruge

statistics on how old cardinals are when they die by Anura Guruge

Mar 232011

by Anura Guruge

This is a follow-up to the March 21 post that looked at the trends from 2005 to 2011 — with a cursory look for ‘anomalies’ [e.g., first death on December 9 in 1903 and no deaths in 1953] going back to 1900.

This post concentrates on the 62 year period since 1950 — 1958 being the year that John XXIII (#262) overrode the 372 year cap on the size of the College at 70.

That this year have gone into Spring in the Northern Hemisphere without a death of a cardinal is indeed noteworthy, if not unusual. In the last 62 years we have only gone this far 17 times (27%). On average, over that period, the first death occurs by March 10.

During these 62 years we have only had 1 instance of more than one cardinal dying on the same day, i.e., August 1, 1988. We have only had 7 instances of two cardinals dying on successive days, the last, however, quite recently: December 30 & 31, 2009. There has only been 2 instances of cardinals dying two days apart. [

December is the worst month of cardinal deaths. 39 of the 367 cardinals that died during this 62 period died in December. August is the next worst at 37, with August 1 being the day when most deaths have taken place — 5. But, there have also been 4 deaths on August 2. This is the only ‘4’ day.

Within reason there appears to be a correlation between the size of the College and the number of cardinal deaths per year. The average for the 62 years is 6 years, while that for the period 2005 – 2011 is 7.7. On per decade basis, the average per year for the decade 2000-2009, at 8.1 deaths/year, was higher than that for any prior decade. This does make sense. The College is bigger than ever before and we have more older [especially over 80 cardinals] than ever before.

cardinal deaths by decade by Anura Guruge

At the average of 6 per year, we have had a cardinal die every 60 days (or so) — so, basically, one every 2 months. Last years rate of one every 48 days was, thus, a bit high. But again, the College is bigger than it ever used to be.

When cardinals died 1950 to now by Anura Guruge

Now lets look at when the first death occurred:

First death of the year for a cardinal by Anura Guruge

For those who were wondering if there is a correlation between when the first death occurs and the number of deaths per year … I overlaid the a graph of the number of deaths/year on top of the above. Yes, you will notice some correlation, especially when we have very late first deaths.


Mar 212011

by Anura Guruge
(Revised March 24, 2011)

Today is the first full day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and we have yet to have a cardinal pass away in 2011. That is unusual.

We have to go back to 2003 to find a year when the first death was later in the year, in this instance the disgraced Austrian Hans Hermann Groër on March 24, 2003.

1953 (the year of my birth) stand out when it comes to cardinal deaths as of 1900.

No cardinals died in 1953.

The last cardinal to die was 80 year old Italian Italian cardinal priest, Michele Giordano, on December 2, 2010.

I did some quick research and analysis of cardinal deaths as of January 1, 2005 — that being the year that the current pope began his reign. Since 2005, with the exception of 2008 (when the first death was on March 6), we would have a death of a cardinal in January. The average for that period is of the first cardinal for the year dying by the 20th of January.

When cardinals die by Anura Guruge

Between 2005 and 2010 the average number of cardinals dying per year was 7.5, with 5 in 2005 and 10 in 2007. Here is a chart of the number of cardinals to die each year between 2005 and 2010, the numbers being: 5, 8, 10, 8, 8, 6.

Number of cardinals dying 2005 to 2011

Since 2005, on average, we have had a cardinal dying every 49 days.

It has now been 110 days since the last — so over twice the norm.

Number of days between cardinal deaths by Anura Guruge


Mar 182011

by Anura Guruge

Template for a cardinal's coat of arms showing 15-tasseled galero at top

Louis Epstein send me this link to a tantalizing picture of the 62-year old, U.S. cardinal, My Lord Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, created a cardinal deacon at the last cardinal-creating consistory [i.e., November 20, 2010] wearing a galero and lot of red moiré (though the picture doesn’t do it justice and makes it look like he is wearing a plastic poncho to keep out the rain). It is, nonetheless, a worthy, inspiring picture of piety and purposefulness.

The galero, in the context of cardinals came into use as of 1245 with Innocent IV (#181) at the First Council of Lyon [France]. It was part of the all red regalia prescribed for cardinals, by that pope, supposedly to signify their willingness to shed their blood in defense of the Church — this having been a time rife with imperial conflict and crusading initiatives.  Furthermore, in the short-term, the red garbs, with the broad-brimmed, betasseled galero, ensured that the cardinals would stand-out (as the pope’s chosen) during all of the ceremonies, processions and gatherings that took place during the 6-week long Council. [It is said that, particularly around Lyon, that the pope got the idea for the ‘red’ when he saw the distinctive red hats then worn by the Canons of Lyon.]

A dusty galero suspended above a cardinal's tomb (name of the cardinal not known)

To begin with the galero symbolized a crown — befitting the status of the cardinals as the ‘Princes of the Church.’

The galero used to be bestowed upon newly created cardinals by the pope at their first consistory. This no longer happens, with a red biretta (and zuchetto) used instead. It is said that cardinals stopped wearing galeros as of 1870, as sign of mourning, at the loss of the Papal States.

In 1969, post Vatican II, a papal decree formalized the the practice of cardinals not receiving a galero when created — deeming that it was too elaborate and would detract with people identifying with their lord cardinal.

However, cardinals have the right to have a galero made so that it can be displayed in their home cathedral. There is also a tradition that a galero, paid for by the congregation, is hung above a late cardinal’s tomb. In theory the galero remains suspended until it disintegrates and falls apart, in time. When it finally falls from its perch, due to decay, it is supposed to indicate that the cardinal’s soul has entered heaven. [There is no mention whether it is permissible to infuse chemicals into the inner material of the galero to accelerate or retard the decay. Also occurred to me as I was inserting the second image … was this the genesis for the pinata, in my mind, Mexico’s greatest contribution to the World.]

Also check this link for more pictures and information on galeros as well as Lord Cardinal Burke wearing one.


Mar 152011

John Paul II’s (#265) beatification (the fastest ever), on May 1, 2011, will garner unprecedented interest from around the world and over 2 million visitors are expected to visit Rome just for the celebrations.

Today the Vatican set up a YouTube page dedicated to the beatification.

A FaceBook account will also be available later this week, though it is not clear whether you will be able to ‘befriend’ the deceased pope or send him e-mail.

John Paul II beatification

Click to visit YouTube page for John Paul II (#265) beatification, May 1, 2011


Mar 082011

by Anura Guruge

Three cardinals created in the early 17th century, viz. Cardinals Ciriaco Rocci (1581-1651), Cesare Monti (1593-1650) & Marcantonio Franciotti (1592-1666), are listed in ‘The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church‘ as having been created in pectore tacite — a distinction being made with other cardinals created (just) in pectore. This ‘tacite’ has since made its way to other Web sites that discuss these three cardinals, the first two created in pectore on November 19, 1629 and the latter on November 28, 1633.

Invalid distinction being made between in pectore and in pectore tacite

‘Tacite’ means tacit, i.e., ‘silent.’

So ‘in pectore tacite’ means created in the breast (or heart) by the pope in silence. The silence part is redundant as of 1536 — and Pope Paul III (#221).

In 1536, with Paul III instituted in pectore creations as it is understood today, i.e., the name of the ‘created’ only being known to the pope until the pope opts to make it public at a later date. Prior to Paul III there were indeed cardinals created in secret, e.g., Martin V (#207) in July 23, 1423, but the process was different to in pectore. The pope would inform the existing cardinals of who was being ‘created’ in secret. The cardinals were probably under some form of oath to keep the information secret. With Paul III (in theory) the pope did not divulge the names of those created in pectore. [In practice, it is known that in some instances a pope would notify the ‘cardinal-elect’ that he had been created in pectore. It is also possible that a pope’s trusted inner-circle, e.g., his private secretary, might know the identities of those created in pectore — though ONLY the pope can publish in pectore names and thus create the cardinals. If the pope does not publish the names before he dies, the in pectore creations cease to be — at once.]

So, since 1536 the TACIT part is implicit.

The ‘tacite’ affectation, as used with these three cardinals, comes from the ‘Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi,’ from the 16th & 17th century, that was quoting from a 17th century source ‘Acta Camerari Sacri Collegii S. R. E. Cardinalium‘. This was most likely to stress the 1536 change in protocol. There is no indication at all that the in pectore for these three cardinals were any different to those made since 1536 or the other cardinal created in pectore at the same November 19, 1629 consistory.

The first 8 cardinals created in pectore (as we know it today) -- by Anura Guruge

Mar 082011

by Anura Guruge

Please consult if you are not familiar with this issue:
Italian Cardinal Priest Crescenzio Sepe Not Getting Due Precedence. Feb. 14, 2011 post.
2/ Follow-Up To Feb. 14 Cardinal Sepe Precedence Post. Feb. 17, 2011 post.
3/ February 21, 2001, John Paul II Cardinal Creating Consistory — The 10 Year Anniversary. Feb. 21, 2011 post.
4/ Latest Pro Hac Vice List; All Six 2001 Cardinal Deacons Elevated As Such Feb. 21, 2011. Feb. 21, 2011 post.

As shown in post 3/ (above), Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe was created a cardinal deacon at the February 21, 2001 consistory along with Cardinals Agostino Cacciavillan, Sergio Sebastiani, Zenon Grocholewski, Jorge María Mejía, Wally Kasper & Roberto Tucci who were also created cardinal deacons at that time.

As is also shown in that post, Cardinal Sepe was promoted to the order of Cardinal Priest, by Pope Benedict XVI (#266), in May 20, 2006 when he was appointed the Archbishop of Naples. As discussed in post 2/ (above) this type of promotion, though perfectly valid, is not covered in Canon Law. Though common sense and logic would dictate the precedence with such a promotion, I am willing to readily admit that Sepe’s precedence in this scenario can fall into a gray area — UNTIL February 21, 2011.

On February 21, 2011 (as shown in post 4/ (above)), the six remaining cardinal deacons from the 2001 consistory, per their just options right, all received promotion to the order of cardinal priest. At that point their precedence was backdated, per Canon Law, as if they had been created Cardinal Priests at the 2001 consistory. Precedence was thus in the order that they were named, as shown in the list in 3/ (above).

Per any measure Cardinal Sepe, at a MINIMUM, should now appear in precedence, between Cardinal Grocholewski and Mejía.

The meticulous Gabriel Chow in his outstanding shows this precedence, which is what it should be: gives Cardinal Sepe due precedence

Despite numerous attempts to have it rectified ‘The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church‘ continues to list Sepe BELOW Cardinal Tucci! That does not make any sense. By any measure Cardinal Sepe has been a Cardinal Priest for longer than Cardinal Tucci. To say he has less precedence defies common sense.

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