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.