In the process of doing the obligatory post to mark his transition into non-elector status for my Papam blog, I happened to notice, accidentally at best, that he was listed as having been born to a single mother. I have absolutely no problem with this; bravo to both him and his mother. It appears that the Cardinal has readily spoken about this — I found this article from a decade ago, done for his 70th birthday.
I can not say that I have ever looked at the wedlock legitimacy status of any of the current cardinals until today. That is usually a part of the bio I skip over. All I am typically interested in is, when where they born and where. The next thing I look at is ‘Episcopate’. So that this caught my eye was a serendipitous fluke (‘Serendipity’ coming from an old name for my native Sri Lanka). As far as I know (and please feel free to correct me), the ‘defect of birth’ impediment was in Canon Law until the 1983 Code, though I think the 1917 Code diluted it. Vlk was ordained in 1968. Not sure whether he required a dispensation for this or whether impediments were not a big deal behind the Iron Curtain during the days of the Cold War. Again if somebody could shed light on this, I would be most grateful.
So, after I saw the Vlk entry, I started going down the list of all living cardinals, in order of precedence to see how many others were also born to single mothers. I need to devote a couple of hours and do this properly — with an Excel spreadsheet. I, however, already came across one incongruous situation. Giovanni Battista Re, the most senior under 80 cardinal. I can’t (as yet) find his parents! He is Italian, born January 30, 1934. There should be records of his parents. I also discovered that U.S. cardinal William Wakefield Baum is adopted, his father, Harold E. White having died when he was young. Baum is the name of his adoptive father. In some instances the last name stated for the mother is not the same as that for the father, including in the case of Lord Bertone, papabile #1. Not sure what to make of this. I guess I will get more clarity once I bang the Excel out. I will try to get to that later today.
I wish Cardinal Vlk a very happy birthday.