Dec 072011

On December 7, 2011, we have our final 80th birthday of a member of the College of Cardinals. Nicholas Cheong Jin-Suk, Cardinal, Archbishop of Seoul, South Korea (80.00) turns the magic number.

The one fascinating thing about this, unless his resignation is accepted with 24 hours, he will be a rare breed in that he is continuing to be an active ordinary of an Archdiocese as a Cardinal Archbishop past the age of 80, when traditionally all active functions cease.

We have seen this in the Curia recently with Sodano and also among the Archpriest of the Major Roman Basilicas this is not uncommon (latest example ‘XXX‘). However, with a sitting ordinary, I do not recall it happening too often, even among the most favored Princes of the Church.

One reason for this may be the geographical. Many bishops in mission territory or places where there are fewer priests and bishops serve as long as their health permits, well after the age of 80. As a matter of fact, in the Korean Diocese of P’yong-yang, the active prelate is 105 years old Francis Hong Yong-ho, Bishop (105.15)! He is the oldest active Ordinary in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Cheong Jin-Suk is currently the 12th oldest active Bishop in the Universal Catholic Church, the 4th oldest in Roman Latin Rite Church, including Pope Benedict XVI. Here is a list:

We will see if and when his resignation is accepted.

Given that a consistory was not called in 2011, the numbers seem to indicate that one will most definitely be called in 2012. Barring any deaths, the number of electors will fall below 100 in November. Several key Archbishops have predecessors who turn 80 in 2012 (New York, Rio, Manila, West Minster, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Bogota and Prague). I am sure those prelates and their countries are anxious to see a red ha

Additionally, there are two major positions that need to be filled that are red hat immediates: the Patriarch of Venice and, if rumors are correct, the position of Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith if Cardinal Levada submits a resignation that is accepted. I personally do not believe that is likely, but the Roman press and those in the know seem to think otherwise. I also believe that both positions could be filled with a current Cardinal (Ravasi to Venice and Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige to the Office of the Inquisitor –[given he will no longer be attending cocktail parties in Sri Lanka]). However, their replacements would become candidates.

It will be a year for Cardinal watching and my guess is to watch for an April consistory on the Feast of Mercy Sunday (the week after Easter). I believe the Popes failing health will become a public matter by that time if the decline I see in everyday pictures keeps on pace, the press of the Christmas liturgies and the toll it will take on him will become too much to hide the severity.

Beginning in January, I will have a more comprehensive Cardinalabili List with notes and commentaries complete with the ages of the candidates being changed to reflect the age they will turn in 2012. I am also brushing up on my Papabili list for 2012. My guess is for a Fall Conclave.


  13 Responses to “Father John On Octogenarian Bishops … And More On Cardinalabili”

  1. DO remember that the Bishop of Pyongyang in all likelihood died in prison
    decades ago,and he is officially alive for symbolic purposes.

  2. Louis, way outside my sphere of expertise. I kind of believe you given that you do keep good track of this stuff. Any links you can find (and I do appreciate that you do have other pressing matters at hand).
    Fr. John, any ides on this.
    There has to have been some media speculation.
    Many thanks.

  3. Dear Father John,
    As I was posting this late last night (close to midnight), I noticed your parting shot. A prediction for a Fall conclave! Wow.
    1/ Father would that NOT mean that there will be at least 11 vacancies come November 2012 since it will be either my #1 man Ouellet or #2 Bertone who will be the next pope.
    2/ So the Nov. consistory will be the first of the new pope’s. From memory, I think, and that table is on this blog, that Bl. John XXIII, of recent times, was the fastest to call a cardinal creating consistory — given that Pius XII had been a sleep at the switch for so long. But, a fall conclave followed by a Nov. consistory could be special.
    There is a chance that I will be in Rome for that … since you have to assume that the new pope, elected in the fall, will be summoning me to Rome for all that I had done to promote their cause. Plus, they would not want me writing ‘The Next Pope 2012’.
    Thanks. I will get to the Cardinalabili soon.
    I was having server troubles — as was Salvador! For a minute I thought the gods were angry. Ooops! Wrong terminology. That has to be singular right? I get confused. I grew up with tons of gods all over the place.
    All the best. OK. Cardinalabili.

  4. I googled the bishop and Louis is correct.

    Most likely dead.

  5. Anura, a Fall 2012 or early 2013 conclave is a separate issue from the consistory. A consistory for the new pope would probably be held within a a year to 18 months of his election. He would probably need some time to get people (his own crew) into the red hat positions that he wants them in before the consistory. I am sure he would not let the college go under 100 and that wouldn’t happen until January 2014. So, I think a Pope elected between Sept-Dec 2012 would most likely call a consistory in Nov. 2013. According to my crystal ball, as stated above, I see a consistory before the summer of 2012.

  6. Louis is absolutely right, and I too did a double take reading the mention of Pyongyang as an example. I went straight to the comments, but alas Louis was quicker.
    Here is what wikipedia says about Francis Hong Yong-ho, the supposedly 105 year old bishop.
    According to this, he was “disappeared” by the North Koreans in 1949, right before the Korean War and after holding the title of “vicar apostolic” for only 5 years. He was probably killed shortly thereafter, and even if he wasn’t he’d most likely have died of natural causes long time ago. Nevertheless, he was named Bishop of Pyongyang when the vicariate apostolic was upgraded to a diocese, and still remains the official bishop even though he hasn’t been in charge for 62 years now.

  7. Father John,

    I do not see why Archbishop of Seoul should not be able to retire. The Archdiocese has not one, but two auxiliary bishops. One of the two should surely be able to take over as archbishop.

    Your idea of a Fall conclave is, of course, in direct opposition to Anura’s prediction that B16 will live for many more years. And you are right that the Christmas season puts the Pope on display. That means we will very soon have some more tea leaves to speculate upon.

    I wonder how a 2012 with B16 in declining health, his death and the conclave would affect the US presidential election. After all, about a quarter of the US is Catholic and the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination is Catholic (albeit a recent convert because of his 3rd wife).

  8. I realize the prediction of a Fall conclave was very bold of me!!! And, yes, either Anura has become soft or has learned to tolerate our sometimes differing of opinions!!!! Only time will tell. We seem to have gotten to know each other well enough to let these things play out while sitting back and eating the popcorn! I just feel something is not right and Rome will never operate on full disclosure. The Pope’s color, his eyes, and his weight seem to all begin to deteriorate. After all, he has a schedule that would tire out men half his age. There have been rumors of an April retirement

    but I do not foresee that happening at all. He will die with his Prada’s on!!!!

    As for the Archbishop of Seoul, there is nothing preventing his retirement. I am sure it will be forthcoming within the next 3 months.

    With regards to the Presidential election and a possible Papal Election, wouldn’t it be neat if they occurred on the same day!!! I really do not see any effect of one to the other. I also am curious to see if Newt is the candidate, what focus religion will have on the race. Many good VP candidates that I would like to see are Catholic, but I think it would be prudent of Newt not to pick one of them because a completely Catholic ticket would raise suspicions of people. He would most likely have to pick a Protestant or Jewish (maybe even a MORMON) running mate!

  9. Dear Father,
    I actually HAD NO problem with your predictions. A prediction is a prediction, and as I am always quick to say I could be wrong about the pope living to see 105 (like that other Bishop). A Fall Conclave will do wonders for my book sales! So much so I am now thinking of a 2012 supplement.
    Wow, a conclave at the start of November 2012 would be neat. [Father, given the complexion of the current situation, you may want to, in future, rephrase this statement: “I also am curious to see if Newt is the candidate, what focus religion will have on the race.” [OK, OK. I am being naughty, but I get that from my dream boat Cain. I could have learned so much from him about long term relationships. 13-years. On a RELATED NOTE Father, and I fully appreciate that this is not that important in your circles, could you PLEASE grant me one INDULGENCE, please, and in future, please, REFRAIN, from using MY NAME and SOFT in the same sentence! It is a superstition I have, especially having a priest such as you intone that dreaded word against my name. Yes, I am making the sign of the cross as I type this.]
    Been out all day and yesterday we didn’t have Internet all day.
    I am planning to do a post on the dear pope praying for the Euro. I think he is worried about is 401(K).
    More later. Please, as ever, forgive my humor. It is but my only vice.
    Thank you. Made my day. Must run. Market is closing.

  10. I was reading a old post the other day where you said that Turkson being a papabili was as improbable as the Republican Party having a black nominee! Boy did it come close!!! I love Cain. Funny, upfront and human. I also read an article written about Gantin some 25 years ago and the resentments some had about that appointment. So, I saw good arguments for both sides of the story.

    I will NEVER use soft and your name in the same sentence again.

  11. Father,
    Do you really think he came that close? Yes, he was at the top of the pack, but didn’t have a huge lead. I think even today the polls are misleading. In reality, jokes apart, I never gave him any shrift. Did have the looks! Unlike papal elections, the U.S. has NOT elected a ‘bad’ looking President in a long time — and especially never since TV came to be. Obama is 1/2 white and dashingly good looking. Go back through the list. It helps to be a movie star if you want to be President. My sister-in-law and her husband were here in Sept. Huge fans on the Cain. I told them: ‘man he must live in a strange house … with no mirrors’. But, my assertion still stands true. GOP has yet to have a black nominee and the Mormon, my neighbor, looks like a movie star!
    Thanks. Hope all is well.
    Any chance of a papabili list as my Christmas present, IF we are to gear up for a Fall Conclave?

  12. I can give you a deluxe papabili list as a Christmas gift!!!

  13. That would be much appreciated. Would make my Christmas. We are into the full swing now. Two school Christmas concerts already behind us. Tonight Devanee (of the ‘are you married to the building?‘ fame) and I are going to this concert. She and I started going to these about 3 years ago. She calls it divine. Small, modern (in both architecture and attitude) Catholic Church in Mitt’s parish — hence very affluent. America’s Oldest Summer Resort. They bring in a couple of soloist from Boston. It has, so far, been a good night of music. Then tomorrow Nutcracker. Wednesday another concert and Sunday, ‘Christmas Revels’ in ‘Dartmouth’, NH — where the College is. That is a blast. Dartmouth, 90 minutes from here, is our cultural oasis — like a transplanted, micro-Boston Newman Street in the wilderness of northern NH. The ‘Revels‘, an enactment of the British pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice is very dear to me — as someone who used to visit Stonehenge at night. It is a blast. IF you ever move to Boston I will take you to one of these. It is amazing what you can do when you have all the resources of the drama department of a RICH school and the talent of the faculty. Thanks.

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