by Anura Guruge
Refer to the ‘Consistory‘ TAB right at the top, above the banner ((↑↑)), for all the requisite links, including those for the February 18, 2012 consistory.
As is well known by now, we will have, barring deaths, 125 cardinal electors on February 18, 2012, once Pope Benedict XVI (#266) creates his latest crop of 22 cardinals. That is 5 above the 120 electors permitted by Church law from participating in a conclave.
Barring deaths, here is the schedule for cardinals aging out to bring that number down to 120:
So, barring deaths, it will be July 26, 2012, before we are back to conformity — that is 5 month, 1 week (162 day) window of ‘opportunity’. To be fair, if there were to be a conclave while we had more than 120 electors it will not be the end of the world. [Lord Bertone will call up 5 (maybe 10 if he really wants to make sure) that he is sure will not vote for him and tell them to call-in-sick and stay at home — and if not, they would indeed feel very sickly if they show their faces in Rome. Ok. Ok. I am joking. Or am I?] I have discussed all of the options that can be used, and the pros and cons of each, on page 305 of ‘The Next Pope 2011‘:
5 over the limit is kids’ play compared to the 15 over the limit favored by John Paul II (#265) in 2001 and again in 2003.
What is intriguing is that going over the limit seems to indicate that the pope is extremely au fait with anticipated mortality. This pope, a stickler for traditions and rules, is unlikely to want a ‘messy’ situation upon his death — which would have to be taken care of, immediately, by hot papabile, Lord Bertone. So we have the scenario that though the pope appears to be ailing, he is very confident (most likely because he has confirmation from above) that he will be around till at least August 2012. That is consistent with my feelings. As I have repeatedly maintained, this pope may be ailing but he will be around for a few more years.