Jan 282011

by Anura Guruge

Yesterday, January 26, 2011, French cardinal priest, Bernard Panafieu turned 80 and thus ceased to be an elector. With this birthday, the College, that had been one-above the 120 cardinal elector limit since the November 20, 2010 consistory, was back to being within limits.

Why the pope only exceeded the 120 limit by one will now be an abiding mystery. Cardinal Vidal turns 80 on February 6. Two others will turn 80 by February 19, 2011. So, why not have named three more over the limit. Exceeding the limit by one, was neither ‘neither here nor there.’ It appeared timorous. Shaky. John Paul II (#265) had already shown how it could be done with panache. In 2001 he exceeded the 120 by 8, and then in 2003, he went above the limit by 15! And, in 2003, it was not as if he was in the best possible health.

So now the drop in the electors below the 120 mark begins, starting on February 6. To be fair, this is OK. We have never had a conclave with 120 electors. The most we have ever had, and that was at the last conclave, was 115.

In September to December 2010 there were enough posts here about this issue and even a full list of the aging of this College.

For now, I will just leave you with this chart — given that we are unlikely to have another cardinal creating consistory to top up the numbers till at least March 2012.

Drop in the cardinal electors in the College of Cardinals per Anura Guruge

  10 Responses to “Drop In The Number Of Cardinal Electors Below 120 Begins Afresh”

  1. Does the Universi Dominici Gregis (the Vatican rules/regulations governing conclaves) make any mention of what happens in the event there are >120 Cardinal electors? I cannot find a reference for it.

  2. Dear Father,
    This is so valuable. THANK YOU.
    I did not know this level of detail. I can’t tell you how happy and grateful, I am for such refinements to MY knowledge and edification for all of us.
    Father, in 2001, I did NOT even know that there was such a thing called a College of Cardinals … and can safely say that I have never heard of a consistory! I was too busy doing seminars, writing and having fun. My expertise in those days was IT.
    For consistory details I had to rely on newspaper reports.
    Alas, and just now, I again checked to see if I missed anything … my dear friend Salvador’s Cardinals Web site … does not capture this type of CRUCIAL data. Alas. As you know he faithfully documents all cardinals created at each consistory with numbering related to how many created by that pope … BUT there is no notation … at the start of each consistory saying … cardinals prior to this consistory … electors/non-electors. Salvador a librarian by training and profession is a MASTER documenter but shys away from analysis and numerical data. IF I had ever done this … you know … what we would have … as I did for THIS consistory … the FIRST that I had followed. I would have average ages, number of electors/non-electors, created by whom etc. etc. Yes, a FEW times when I was really pressed, I have put all of Salvador’s lists into an Excel and then AGED the cardinals out. So I would start at a concalve … since that would give me numbers. Then I would delele/add names … VERY tedious. Very time consuming. So, I do not bother.

    This is why this is EXCELLENT. Thank you. Thank you.
    All the best,
    P.S., Did you see this. I guess the Metropolitan must have been there. Did your bishop attend?

  3. No, UDG does NOT say how you cope with >120 electors. When it was written in 1996, John Paul II was still operating WITHIN the rules. Contrary how it appeared (and Father Peter may correct me), in June 1979, he did not exceed the 120 because one named was in pectore. So in 1996, the belief was that popes would not exceed 120.
    I have dealt with this in my The Next Book and in this blog. The cardinals will have to deal with it as a pre-conclave General Congregation. Most likely they will elect to leave out the most recently created … per standard College order of precedence.
    If you look around this blog … this topic too has been extensively discussed. If there had been a conclave prior to Jan. 26, I think, from memory, that it would have been Marx that would have been told ‘sorry Bro, you can’t attend‘ since, as I recall, he was the last named cardinal elector — making him the most junior (irrespective of his age).

  4. Thank goodness, nobody has died, like Stephen Fumio Hamao last time.

  5. […] Pope John Paul II to be beatified May 1 Pope Benedict XVI has approved a miracle attributed to his predecessor, nudging John Paul II one step closer to sainthood. Read more on CTV Toronto Further you can see this related post: http://popes-and-papacy.com/wordpress/?p=2132 […]

  6. As always, I am very impressed by Father Peter’s attention to detail and his analysis of the information we have.
    I am always conscious of the need to distinguish very carefully between what I would like to happen and what may actually happen. From this perspective I can say that I understand why some are thinking that the next Pope might be older at the time of his election than was the case for the most part during the 20th century.
    At the same time i am very much in agreement with Citizen of Dis when he says that we need a younger and more energetic person who can hope to have enough time to deal with the problems, in particular the much needed reform of the Roman Curia. I entirely understand why Benedict XVI does not feel able to undertake this task, but in my view it is urgently needed.

    I wonder if we may yet see the resignation of a Pope on grounds of age and infirmity. Benedict has said publicly that it could be the “duty” of a Pope to retire if he felt no longer up to the demands of the office. Unless we do allow for retirement at a certain age we will find ourselves with a more and more geriatric hierarchy. I am not suggesting that old age per se is a bar to office, We have had some exceptional men who were over 80, but it can not be the norm.

    Looking at the various lists, I would love to know more about the personality of Cardinal Ouellet. Fr Peter raised this but did not expand on it. I am very impressed by his remarks about the Archbishop of Vienna. They fit well with things I have heard from Austria, but I would still include him in any list, at least as a possibility. I also agree with the view that Cardinal Ratzinger was elected despite being a curial cardinal. I see a parallel between the conclaves of 1939 and 2005.Both Pacelli and Ratzinger were outstanding figures. In 1939 there was really no other comparable candidate with the political experience and evident holiness of Pacelli. Some Cardinals remained unconvinced and never voted for him, but the outcome was more or less inevitable. Much the same could be said of Ratzinger in 2005, certainly once Martini was excluded. There was no comparable candidate.
    This is not likely next time.

    I suspect that nationality will matter much less than personality. The Cardinals know that the Pope has to be a man of obvious holiness. He must also be someone with whom the people can identify. This can take different forms, as can be seen in the contrast in personality and style between Wojtyla and Ratziinger. In Britain we saw two very different Popes in 1982 and 2010, but each was impressive in his own way,spiritually,intellectually, and personally. They will not choose a dull colourless nonentity. (Am I again confusing what should happen and what will happen? – I don’t think so.

    I think an African or an Asian is still unlikely.Among the Italians I would not exclude Ravasi, especially if he goes to Milan and mkaes a success of it. I would not consider Bertone at all likely. ( I actually think it impossible ). Scola is impressive, but I doubt it would be him. I would also rule out Bagnasco. I see why Sandri is mentioned, but I wonder if he has the personality. I think one of the Latin Americans is a more likely choice, not least because the Church there has a long history compared with other countries in the developing world.

    I am afraid this is a bit rambling, but I will be interested to read people’s comments and reactions.

  7. Dear Father,
    As to the possibility of the Pope resigning (per the provisions in Canon Law) on grounds of age or infirmity, can I PLEASE ask a very pertinent question.
    I THINK that whether this pope WILL consider resignation depends on your answer to this question:
    Father, I know that the pope is mortal, BUT do you think (per the Holy Spirit’s involvement in his election, Petrine Succession, his titles, infallibility in matters of dogma etc.) that the Pope has a SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP with God/Holy Spirit … or is the Pope no different to YOU or I in the eyes of God?
    There is a very profound reason for this question.
    John Paul II alluded to this as to why he would not resign.
    Father you have talked about papal resignation a number of times. So I have been giving it a lot of thought. HENCE the question. Because, IF the Pope has a preferential relationship with God … or even if the Pope THINKS his relationship is more special than those enjoyed by other mortals, it might NOT be as easy for the Pope to resign as we think!
    Once I have an answer, I will lay out my thoughts on papal resignation and it will be very clear as to WHY I asked, what on the surface, might appear to be an impertinent question.
    Thank YOU, Father.
    All the very best.

  8. With regard to Papal retirement, it is quite clear that Canon Law allows for such a thing. It is also mentioned in the Apostolic Constitution of John Paul II on the Conclave. The Code does not however set out how a resignation might be effected. You are quite right to suggest that there would be a number of difficult practical issues involved.

    The Pope, as successor of Peter, enjoys certain titles, and in virtue of his office he has a particular relationship to Christ. In so far as God gives someone a particular ministry He also gives the grace necessary to carry out that ministry. That is what is usually called “The Grace of state”. You have that as a parent, and I as a Parish Priest.
    In that sense, the Pope, in view of his enormous responsibilities, can surely trust in the Lord’s abiding grace.

    None of this affects the question of resignation. John Paul II believed that just as Christ did not come down from the Cross, so he, as Pope, should remain in office until death. Another Pope could equally take a different view. He might feel, as Pope Benedict suggested in his recent book/interview, that if he was no longer strong enough, physically, emotionally, spiritually to continue, he could equally see in his weakness a sign that God would not want him to continue.

    The problems would be more human in that it would be important for the Pope to be entirely free in making such a decision. If it were thought that the Pope had been under undue pressure to resign it could call into question the legitimacy of his successor. There is also the problem that having a Pope emeritus could put pressure on his successor to maintain the policies of hid predecessor. It would be important for the Pope emeritus to withdraw entirely from the scene.
    These difficulties will only seem insuperable until a resignation actually occurs. I won’t say more now about the practical issues or the probability or otherwise of BXVI deciding at some point to retire, but I hope I have answered the theological question in that I see no theological problem in a papal resignation.

  9. Thank YOU very much father for explaining this to me. I THINK I understand.
    I was kind of aware of John Paul II’s reasoning as to why he would not resign and you confirmed that. Thank you.
    Father, re. Benedict XVI and his belief that the pope would see: ‘in his weakness a sign that God would not want him to continue.’
    Father, in my opinion (and AGAIN this could be due my lack of education and insight), BUT would that NOT be a HUGE indictment on God!
    The way I would see it this would indicate that God had not foreseen this outcome … in 2005 … and I for ONE find that hard to stomach.
    There is also the OTHER aspect. Father, we are TOLD that John Paul II’s last words were: ‘pozwólcie mi odejść do domu Ojca‘, (‘Let me depart to the house of the Father‘).
    Pius IX, as you might know, is credited as saying to his Vicar of Rome who was grieving at the pope’s death bed: ‘Why do you want to stop me from going to heaven?’

    My understanding, from all I have studied (and again I could have misunderstood given my language difficulties etc.), that popes have shown little reticence when it comes to their own death. They see their death as a continuation of their special communion with God. I assume that God must feel the same … especially given the words of John Paul II and Pius IX (both of whom, in my opinion, lived long enough to REALLY know what they were talking about).
    So, wouldn’t God just ask the Pope to join him in heaven rather than make him resign?
    That is my dilemma. Again, you are the expert. I am just sharing with you my thought process.
    I also, OFTEN, think back to Celsetine V — who I think was a GREAT pope who deserved to be canonized for all he did to ensure rational papal elections. Your words father, re. Benedict XVI, is ‘sign that God‘ … so what kind of sign did God give poor Celestine who really did think that he had devoted most of his life to God?
    Peace father. I am not trying to create trouble. Just telling you what goes through my mind.
    Thank you, father. All the best. Today, is my day of rest from shoveling. We will get some snow again tonight. So I will start Sunday with at least an hour of non-stop of shoveling.

  10. The ‘100’ is correct but I didn’t state it the way I had meant to. Kind of assumed that everybody would look at the list I had referred to at the top. 11 down in 2012, between Jan. 1, 2011 and Nov. 20, 12. That is where the 11 came from. But, yes that was confusing. So I fixed it. Thanks.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

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