by Anura Guruge
On February 06, 2011 when Filipino, Ricardo Jamin Vidal turned 80 there were a total of 119 cardinal electors, 69 created by John Paul II (#265) and 50 created by Benedict XVI (#266); i.e., 42% Benedict creations.
On February 12, 2011 when Spain’s Agustín Garcia-Gasco Vicente turns 80 there will be 118 cardinal electors, 69 created by John Paul II and 49 by Benedict XVI.
When Vidal turned 80 on February 6, the number of living cardinals created by John Paul II (from his epic, record-setting 231) became evenly split between electors and non-electors, 69 electors & 69 non-electors. When this was pointed out, some started talking about when the majority of electors would be those created by Benedict XVI. Well, anybody who was motivated enough could have started working this out using this list. In reality little, if anything, is likely to be impacted at the next conclave by having a John Paul II or Benedict XVI majority, due to two key reasons:
- Given that when it came to doctrine and the love for traditionalism there is very little that separates the two popes, one could persuasively argue that there can’t be that much difference in the fundamental outlook of the cardinals created by these two proudly conservative popes — though it is possible that Benedict might favor those even more to the ‘right’ than did his predecessor.
- Given the June 11, 2007 Benedict XVI amendment to John Paul II’s 1996 Universi Dominici Gregis, you always need, in all scenarios, including the run-offs, a two-thirds majority for a new pope to be elected. Hence, a simple majority, though a good start, isn’t enough to sway a papal election.
Barring a spate of unexpected deaths (or the even more improbable case of mass resignations (given that the last resignation was in 1927)) we will MOST LIKELY to have another cardinal creating consistory before Benedict creations become the majority in the papal electorate. A part of the reason being that some of the current Benedict electors are also going to be turning 80 in the near future … with the next elector to turn 80 indeed been a Benedict XVI creation. Also by November 23, 2012, just after the two year anniversary of the last cardinal creating consistory we will again be down to 99 (if not less) cardinal electors. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having 99 or even 79 electors, there is this new belief that we need in excess of 110 electors to make a conclave legitimate — even though only 3 popes have been elected by electorates larger than 80.
So here are all the charts that you need. Enjoy. Notice that if there is no consistory, deaths or resignations it will be Spring 2014 before Benedict XVI’s electors become the majority.
Look at the last 3 columns. That shows how the numbers change.