Dec 312011

Next cardinal creating consistory with Anura GurugeAnura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

  by Anura Guruge

Refer to the ‘Consistory‘ TAB right at the top, above the banner (↑↑), for all the pertinent links, including all of the various cardinalabili lists and consistory statistics.

The December 29, 2011, article we were urged to readby Fr. John leads off, in paragraph one, with a full blown exposition of the new 2012 rings that will be worn by the new February 2012 cardinals.

A Benedict XVI cardinal's ring -- from (and with thanks to)

By long held tradition each newly created cardinal is presented with a cardinal’s ring by the pope to symbolize the tight bond between a cardinal and the pope. It is this cardinal’s ring that the faithful kiss when they greet a Prince of the Church. Each pope, typically, chooses the image depicted on the outside of the cardinal’s ring — thus personalizing these rings to make them specific to each reign. Normally the pope’s coat of arms is also etched into the inside of the ring — as a secondary form of customization.

The image, so far, use by Pope Benedict XVI (#266) for his cardinal’s ring is a modern depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus, with Mary and John to each side. This article by, featuring Fr. John’s favorite cardinal, confirms this depiction and even includes a close-up of the bearded cardinal’s ring (reproduced here with thanks and attribution to

[Provided by Louis Epstein on January 1, 2012: From page 189 of PASSING THE KEYS, ‘After 1967…The cardinal’s ring, which for centuries had been set with a sapphire,was reduced to a simple band of gold.
So have these bands really not been so simple,with the custom designs? Or were Paul VI’s rings plain?]

The article from Rome recommended by Fr. John, which for reasons best known only to them, refers to cardinals as ‘Senators of the Church‘, is telling us that the new rings will be in the shape of a cross. Read the article.

That the rings have already been ordered got me thinking.

Anybody who has bought an engagement or ‘nookie’ ring for a lady knows that size is a big concern. Unlike with buying bras for the same, with rings you can’t usually solicit ‘hands-on’ help from the female sales assistants in gauging the right size.

So what does this mean in terms of the new rings for the new cardinals — in particular, WHEN are they sized?

Yes, of course, once the rings are made, they can be quickly sized — so there is plenty of time during the conventional 1-month lead time, i.e., from the times the names are announced to the date of the actual consistory. This is what would make most sense. The cardinal-designates will each be asked to provide their ring sizes by a particular date to ensure that the jeweler can have the rings individually sized in time — the rings usually presented to the cardinals the day after the consistory at a Mass.

What I am wondering about is when the cardinal-designates are actually notified that they are to be created. For example have they ALREADY been told and been asked to supply their ring sizes? Prior to the November 20, 2010 consistory, my contacts in Sri Lanka, kept on telling me the Archbishop had been told to make travel arrangements to be in Rome for November — and this was well ahead of the October 20 announcement.

If the February consistory is indeed to be on Saturday, February 18, 2012, the announcement would be expected on January 18, 2012. That is just over 2 weeks away. If I go back to the November 2010 timing, and what I was hearing from Sri Lanka, the presumptive cardinals have already been told or will be shortly. So, that was where the thoughts about the ring sizes led me. When are they asked to supply ring sizes. I doubt that the curia keeps the ring sizes of bishops on file — mainly because ring sizes can change with corpulence and age — afflictions well known to bishops.

Dec 312011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

   by Anura Guruge

We started the year with 201 cardinals in total and 121, yes, 121, cardinal electors.

We end the year with 192 cardinals, of which 109 are electors.

That means we had 9 deaths, 2 of whom were electors. The first death was late, April 1. Average age of deaths = 83.7 years;  Oldest = 96; Youngest = 75

We had 10 cardinals ‘age-out’.

We had 15 cardinals retire. Average age for retirements = 77.4 years;  Oldest = 90; Youngest = 75

In terms of orders the changes were distributed as follows:

Involving Suburbicarian See Cardinal Bishops = 0; Cardinal Priests = 28 & Cardinal Deacons = 5

U.S.A and Italy featured 7 times each. Germany, India, Philippines and Spain featured twice each.

Dec 292011

Next cardinal creating consistory with Anura GurugeAnura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

   by Anura Guruge

Refer to the ‘Consistory‘ TAB right at the top, above the banner (↑↑), for all the pertinent links, including all of the various cardinalabili lists and consistory statistics.

As of last night, i.e., December 28, various media outlets, quoting an Italian news agency, are claiming that the next, much anticipated, cardinal creating consistory will take place in February 2012, probably on the 18th or 19th given that that is a weekend.

Yes, a February 2012 consistory is a definite possibility and has been on the cards for a while. So, here are my initial musing as I try to read the tea leaves as to what a February 2012 cardinal creating conclave could mean.

1. Louis Epstein, way back on July 1, 2011, after loudly clearing his throat (to get our attention), anticipated the possibility of a ‘12-man consistory at the Feast of the Chair of Peter next February (22nd)‘. Louis, take a bow. Way to go. Bravo.

2. Father John, the cardinalabili expert, on December 12, 2011, gave us a heads up that my #2 papabile, Lord Bertone, was pushing for a February 2012 consistory. Thank you again Father for that heads-up.

3. Father John had postulated that an ‘early’ consistory in 2012 — and February sure falls into that category — would indicate that the pope’s health was in ‘rapid decline’. The media is already speculating on that. While I agree that the pope is ailing, I still see a few more years of his reign.

4. Given what we have seen of the frail pope of late, I am not sure that he is actually calling too many shots these days. So, I am more than happy to believe that Lord Bertone and others in the curia came up with the date and basically got the nod from the pope. Yes, those close to the pope, and Bertone is sure one of them, will want to START stacking the decks given that there is bound to be a conclave sometime in the future.

5. I am not convinced that this consistory will necessarily be a Saturday consistory — just because John Paul II (#265) and this pope have FAVORED Saturday consistories. Benedict XV’s (#266) first consistory, in 2006, was on a Friday. John Paul II’s last-but-one and second-but-one consistories were on February 21, the last one on a Wednesday. John Paul II, who broke away from the ‘Monday is the day for consistories’ mantra, held consistories on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The pope may opt for a Tuesday, February 21 consistory, with the Mass for the new cardinals on Ash Wednesday.

6. Come February, barring deaths, there will be 13 vacancies for cardinal electors.

7. Now that he has done it once, I think that this pope, following in his illustrious predecessors footsteps, will again exceed the 120 limit. We have one elector turning 80 on March 8th and another on April 2nd. I think the pope will set out to fill both these vacancies too. So my gut feel right now is that we will have 122 electors following the consistory.

8. We have plenty of vacant titles and deaconries. That is not an issue. I hand-calculated the vacancies in October 2011. On October 6, 2011, we had 12 titles and 10 deaconries vacant giving us a total of 22 vacancies. Since then, Cardinal Deacon Foley died. That gave us another vacancy, a deaconry. So we have 23. That should be just about enough, 15 electors and 8 non-electors.

Dec 292011

On Christmas Day, The New York Times headlined the pope’s frailty. Now, this Nigerian publication, referring to the possible February 18 or 19, 2012, cardinal creating consistory openly mentions the word ‘successor’.

Yes, a February 2012 consistory does raise the specter that the pope really is ailing and is getting his house in order. Though I have faithfully chronicled the pope’s ailments for the last 4 months, I am still not convinced that this pope is on his last legs! I think he still has a few years in him. But, I could be wrong. Maybe the Vatican mafia has decided that he has overstayed his welcome. But, that has nothing to do with his health.

Click image to access the article.

Dec 282011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

  by Anura Guruge

Teodolfo Mertel (9 February 1806 - 11 July 1899), the last lay cardinal

Yesterday, at the behest of Louis Epstein, I posted (or more to the point, re-posted) a list of all of the non-bishop cardinals (NBCS) since 1917 — that being when the 1917 Code of Canon Law mandated that all cardinals, at a minimum, be ordained priests. This new interest in NBCs was stoked by my comment yesterday about what would happen if a non-bishop was elected pope and there were no Cardinal Bishops in conclave to consecrate him a bishop. If this were to ever happen it would not be an issue at all. Any cardinal, ideally the most senior per the precedence of the College, could consecrate the new NBC pope. A point that was being debated was whether a NBC could be present in a conclave. The answer to that, has to be an emphatic ‘YES’ since there are no laws or rules that say that a non-bishop has to be over the age of 80 to be created; i.e., only created as non-electors. With Robert Tuuci, as I explained yesterday, we already have an exception.

Well all this talk of NBCs brought to mind Teodolfo Mertel the last cardinal never to have been ordained, i.e, the last non-priest cardinal. But, for two months, right after his creation, he was also the last lay cardinal.

Mertel, an Italian, was born in February 1806. He studied with the Capuchins and at a seminary before getting a dual doctorate in law, canon and civil. In 1931, aged 25, he went to work for the curia as a lawyer. He would go onto hold posts in the Apostolic Signature (highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church) and other high profile offices before becoming a lay member of the Apostolic Chamber, the pope’s treasury headed by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. He also held a number of ministerial posts related to the Papal States.

He was created, a cardinal deacon, by Pius IX, at his 10th cardinal creating consistory, on March 15, 1858. Mertel, as a layman, was the last named — and the 51st to be created by Pius IX. He was assigned the deaconry of S. Eustachio. Mertel had just turned 52. We do not know whether he was married or had any children. On May 16, 1858, 2 months after the consistory, the pope ordained him a a deacon at Castel Gandolfo. He was a lay cardinal, and the last of that ilk, during those two months.

He, as far as I can see, was a member of various Tribunals, Congregations and Offices. In 1884 he became the Vice Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church heading up, after the pope who was the Chancellor, the Chancery of Apostolic Briefs, which was responsible for financing the papal armies. This Chancery, with the need for papal armies obviated c. 1870, was merged in 1908 with Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs.

He participated in the February 18-20, 1878 conclave that elected Leo XIII, as the second most senior cardinal deacon. The protodeacon Prospero Caterini fell ill just after the conclave. So Mertel, as the next senior, was the cardinal deacon that crowned the new pope with a tiara. In 1881 he opted for a transfer to another deaconry, S. Maria in Via Lata. Such transfers were permissible and common in that era. In 1884, after he became Vice Chancellor he opted for the title, S. Lorenzo in Damaso, pro illa vice, which is usally goes with that post. He was to die in July 1899, age 93.
[Thanks Louis for putting me right on the Vice-Chancellor role.]

Dec 282011

They say that no real, red-blooded male can resist a Cat Fight — though in my old-age, with 3 daughters I am averse to any type of violence involving the fairer sex, though I have to confess, that most days, like today, I get woken to my two young daughters jumping on me, trying to pound each other in the process.

But, I had, until now, never seen PRIESTS fight! Wow. Talk about compelling. They should create a reality show and have priests of different factions going at each other. I don’t watch wrestling or those extreme fights (though I will gladly watch boxing), so I am not sure of all the nomenclature but I think they have things along the lines of cage fighting and extreme fighting. I can just see it, a couple of Jesuits against two, big, burly, black Baptist ministers from the South. This could bring the young back to watching the clergy performing. From my limited experience, Orthodox priests seem very feisty and touchy. I wonder whether they will have to have a rule against beard pulling.

Click image to access YouTube, must-see, video.

Dec 282011

It was in 1962 that John XXIII (#262) mandated that henceforth call cardinals need to be bishops unless specifically exempted by a pope. John did NOT specify any age-related caveats since Paul VI’s (#263) 80-year non-elector rule was still 9 years in the future. So there is no rule saying that only non-bishops over 80 can be created. And yes, in February 21, 2001, John Paul II (#265) created Robert Tucci, S.J. when he was 79 (albeit to turn 80 in less than 2 months). Tucci, now 90, is still alive, just one of the three non-bishop cardinals who are around.

Only 14 non-bishops have been created since John’s 1962 ruling — with just currently alive. I did do a November 22, 2010 post about that.

Those 14 are:

See Nov. 22, 2010 post for a BIGGER version of this image

The 1917 Code of Canon Law required that as of May 1918 all cardinals, at a minimum, be ordained priests. As far as we know there were no exceptions made to the priestly ordination requirement. There were, however, 16 non-bishop cardinals created between 1917 – 1962. This was perfectly valid. Here is the list:

1. Camillo Laurenti (1861-1938), created June 13, 1921
2. Giuseppe Mori (1850-1934), created December 11, 1922
3. Franz Ehrle SJ (1845-1934), created December 11, 1922
4. Evaristo Lucidi (1866-1929), created December 20, 1923
5. Aurelio Galli (1866-1929), created December 20, 1923
6. Alessandro Verde (1865-1958), created December 14, 1925
7. Carlo Perosi (1868-1930), created June 21, 1926
8.  Camillo Caccia Dominioni (1877-1946), created December 16, 1935
9.  Nicola Canali (1874-1961), created December 16, 1935
10. Domenico Jorio (1867-1954), created December 16, 1935
11. Vincenzo La Puma (1874-1943), created December 16, 1935
12. Federico Cattani Amadori (1856-1943), created December 16, 1935
13. Massimo Massimi (1877-1954), created December 16, 1935
14. Domenico Mariani (1863-1939), created December 16, 1935
15. Giovanni Mercati (1866-1957), created June 15, 1936
16. Giuseppe Bruno (1875-1954), created February 18, 1946

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button