by Anura Guruge
In this January 11, 2012 post I touched on what would happen (in the very unlikely scenario given that I think the pope is still hale) if there were to be a conclave while there were more than 120 cardinal electors — assuming, of course, that ill health among some of the cardinals didn’t keep the number below 120.
Contrary to what some pundits will claim, I, having studied conclave protocols and lore in more detail than most, am fairly sure is that the College of Cardinals, meeting in their sede vacante General Congregations, will not permit more than 120 electors to participate in the conclave. Exceeding the 120 limit is an explicit violation of Universi Dominici Gregis and such an blatant and intentional violation would invalidate the election — at least in the eyes of some. So, that option has to be taken off the table.
Yes, you can then come up with all sorts of other, totally arbitrary, criteria as to how to select the 120 electors that will be permitted entry. We have already heard the oldest 120 and youngest 120 (both in terms of age) suggested. But, you could come up with other criteria too: longest as consecrated bishops, residentials given priority over curialist etc. But, none of these scheme have any accepted basis for validity or a precedent vis-à-vis College protocols. Hence, my contention all along that the only scheme that makes sense and has any legitimacy is to use the standard, accepted order of precedence within the College to determine which 120 can enter the conclave. Per this scheme the junior most cardinal deacons get left out (now that the College has so many cardinal deacons that it is unlikely we would ever get to the junior most cardinal priests when talking about the lower-end of precedence scale).
So right now the five junior most cardinal deacons, per precedence [i.e., order in which they were created as opposed to their age], have to wait their turn for a slot to open up. Versaldi is the most junior of the under-80 cardinals.
So, barring deaths, this is how they will get slotted in as other more senior cardinals age out:
Refer to the ‘Consistory‘ TAB right at the top, above the banner ((↑↑)), for all the requisite links, including those for the February 18, 2012 consistory.