May 022010

q.v. my June 26, 2010 post
<< Next Consistory, New Cardinals, Vacancies — The Facts and Exact Numbers >>

by Anura Guruge

As of April 19, 2010, the fifth anniversary of this pontificate, it has been 2 years and 4 months [877 days to be precise] since there has been a cardinal creating consistory – Benedict XVI’s (#266) last having been on November 24, 2007 – during which he created 23 cardinals, five of them non-voting [i.e., they were already over 80].

After that consistory in 2007 there were 201 cardinals, 120 of them eligible to vote – Paul VI (#263), in 1973, having specified a 120 elector maximum (though John Paul II (#265) unhesitatingly, and quite famously, exceeded this twice with aplomb).
[q.v., pages 123-124 of ‘The Next Pope’ book on Google Books.]

Benedict XVI, a doctrinal purist, let it be known at his first consistory, on March 24, 2006, that he intends, always, to adhere to Paul VI’s 120 elector limit and he has been true to this pledge.

As of May 4, 2010 we are down to 179 cardinals of which 108 are electors. Please click here for the May 4, 2010 demographics of the College < click >.

Twelve more cardinals will turn 80 within the next 12 months.

This is the least number of electors we have had on a prolonged basis since Paul VI enacted the 80 year cut-off rule – effective as of January 1, 1971.

But there are no rules or even norms saying that you need upwards of 110 electors for a ‘modern’ conclave — just because we had 115, 111 and 111 electors at the last three conclaves.

Between 1586 and 1958 the total size of the College was capped at 70!

Factors Impacting The Next Cardinal Creating Consistory
The chances are that the pope may want to hold a cardinal creating consistory within the next 18 months. But, he has to also deal with the ongoing sex abuse scandal. Creating cardinals in this current climate is unlikely to be well received. He will also have to be ultra careful as to who he creates to avoid any accusations that he is rewarding prelates whose hands may not be 100% clean vis-à-vis the scandal. So this is a big issue. The Vatican, not too good at these things, may actually have to institute a ‘rigorous’ vetting process for potential cardinals. Anyone that follows US politics knows that even the best vetting that money can buy does not, alack, always unearth all skeletons – but when it comes to Catholic prelates tax avoidance or illegal nannies would be the least of the issues the pope will be concerned about, though he may wonder why there was a need for a nanny.

Then, there is also the matter of costs. Creating cardinals (even prior to the need for costly vetting) costs money for the Vatican, as does holding a consistory. Cardinals are expensive commodities (and I am sure that there are those at the Vatican who pine for good old days, as in the middle ages, when folks paid the pope, handsomely, for a cardinalate and therefore creating cardinals was a means for raising funds for the Holy See).

So these are all factors that influence when we might see the next cardinal creating consistory.

It should also be noted that this pope, in contrast to John XXIII (#262) or Paul VI (#263), does not have to worry about needing to alter the political landscape of the electorate. John Paul II (#265) and this pope, who was John Paul’s doctrinal enforcer, made sure that the current College is predominantly conservative. So, this pope doesn’t have to fret that he has to make sure that there are enough of his ilk to make sure that the next pope will also be a John Paul II conservative, as is he. That is kind of depressing. One can only hope that the electors suitably chastised by the fallout of the clergy scandal may decide to elect one of the more ‘liberal’ non-Europeans among their ranks to show that they too want CHANGE. But … the electors … their average age being 72 … have confirmed of late that ‘sensitivity’ isn’t exactly their strong suit. Shades of ‘let them eat cake!’

Pascalina Lehnert

Mother Pascalina Lehnert

Looking At The Trends
A metric I created to compare cardinal-creating trends was that of ‘number of cardinals per months as pope.John Paul II (#265) was pope for 317 months during which he created a record 231 cardinals. If we divide the 231 by the 317 months we get 0.73 cardinals per each month of his papacy. By that same metric Benedict XVI, as of his 5 year mark [i.e., 60 months] is at 0.63. John XXIII (#262), who was in a hurry and definitely had an ‘agenda’ was at 0.95 – in, alas, what was a brief, but glorious, pontificate. Pius XII (#261), however, comes in at 0.24. And that sets a very low bar for this pope.

Pius XII was an enigma. Though he was pope for nearly 20 years [19 years, 7 months] he only held 2 cardinal creating consistories during which he created a total of 56 cardinals. Yes, WW II was an issue. But, that alone does not explain the reluctance of this pope to create cardinals. I, as ever, have a theory. Pius XII was not a people person. He, despite (or probably because of) his 41 year, rather incongruous relationship with his German ‘housekeeper’ Sister (later Mother) Pascalina Lehnert, was a solitary, lonely, haunted soul. I think he had trouble of seeing many as worthy – particularly worthy of being made a cardinal. So thanks to Pius XII’s foibles other popes, such as the current pope, get a break when it comes to creating cardinals.

The following table provides an overview of the cardinal creating trends as of Pius X (#258).

This next table looks at the durations between cardinal creating cardinals.

Yet again we see that the current pope is not violating any norms – even though we have to acknowledge that there really are no ‘norms’ when it comes to creating cardinals.

This the last table in this post shows when all 55 of the cardinal creating consistories were held as of 1900.

The first thing you should notice is that Monday’s used to be the traditional day for creating cardinals! John Paul II and his protégé put paid to that.

It is also interesting that there were ‘favored’ dates … mid-December, prior to Christmas, being one of them. John Paul II held consecutive cardinal creating consistories on the same day; February 21 and June 28.

So Monday’s by far was the most popular of the days for creating cardinals though this no longer seems to be a factor. December was the most popular of the months.

  13 Responses to “The Next Cardinal Creating Consistory by Pope Benedict XVI (#266)”

  1. Thanks much. Lots of interesting data.

  2. Thanks Dewie,
    Thought you might enjoy it. Hope you are doing well.
    Keep in touch.

  3. Hi Anura, nice post.

    There was a rumor weeks ago that we would have a Consistory next november.

    For me in the next Conclaves(yes, a couple of them) we won’t see a conservative-liberal fight (a Siri vs Benelli or Montini vs Siri). Of course this is not only because the cardinals are JPII or Benedict XVI followers, is because the complex needs of the Church.

  4. Carlos,
    Thank you.
    Yes, I have seen various speculation as to when the next cardinal creating consistory might happen. Earlier in the year, before the latest (and still ongoing) chapter on clergy abuse and cover-up, there was thought that we might see one in June. That seems very unlikely. November is far enough OUT to make it plausible. Maybe a December, pre-Christmas, consistory, which you could see from my table used to be very popular until JPII, for whatever reason, decided to firmly abandon that practice. I wish I could find out what JPII’s thoughts were when it came to the timing of cardinal creating consistories. As you can see from my table, it would appear he went out of his way to be different and Benedict XVI has followed suit — as he has done with so many other things.
    You are definitely right that the ‘old’ conservative-liberal fights are history for now.
    But, I think we do have shades of gray.
    If you have read my work you will know that I am pushing for a Latin American pope … and if that is too larger a leap, at least one from Canada, as a compromise.
    Stay in touch. All the best.

  5. I think any religion’s credibility is measured by the strength of its resistance to change,since they’re supposed to be guided by God’s laws and men are not entitled to change God’s (unchangeable) laws.(Of course I think the defining assumptions of Christianity are wrong to begin with).It’s a matter of sincerity.Italian popes should always be seen as usual,because that’s part of being the Roman church.

    In any event,a February 21 consistory (Feast of the Chair of Peter) would be on the 10th anniversary of the 2001 consistory and allow surviving cardinal-deacons the chance to opt for priestly titles at the same occasion as the new creations.

    The number of electors shrank to 93 before the 1985 consistory,I doubt we are headed that low.

  6. Louis,
    Good to hear from you.
    PLEASE refer to my latest response to Carlos introducing you.
    More later.

  7. Louis,
    Your February 21, 2011 prediction makes sense. Writing up the death of Cardinal Mayer this weekend, I saw that he had opted for jus optionis in 1996, when he was 86 years old having been created a cardinal deacon since he was but a ‘junior’ curialist.
    I am amused by your statement about ‘I think the defining assumptions of Christianity are wrong to begin with.’ I would not disagree with you.
    I am a late convert to James Michener, which is strange since my father had been a longtime fan. I am reading his ‘The Source.’ Have you read that.
    The chronicling of the persecution of the Jews has been an eye opener to me. Yes, I knew, like most, the basics. The massacres during the crusades, the yellow targets etc. But, Michener goes into significant detail. I know he was a Quacker or at least adopted by a Quaker family. Any church that got the Jewish question SO WRONG is unlikely to do well when it comes to issues like sexual abuse.
    Yes, I also agree with YOU that the pope, first and foremost is THE BISHOP OF ROME. So the Italians, or at least the Romans, should have preference.
    So … Louis … what are the chances that this pope … in desperation … in a final bid to salvage some kind of ‘kindly’ legacy … abolishes conclaves and reverts to the original scheme for electing popes … the bona fide Roman Clergy and citizens gathered in a public place.
    Stay in touch.
    All the best.

  8. Just to complete the loop …
    YOU can find Carlos’ comments here:

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anura Guruge. Anura Guruge said: The Next Cardinal Creating Consistory by Pope Benedict XVI (#266) […]

  10. Anura,

    How do you think this development will affect things:

    The factional war in the Vatican is now coming into the open. I have always
    been deeply concerned about Sodano, due to his links with Pinochet. How
    could John Paul 2nd, having lived through totalitarianism in his homeland,
    have appointed cardinals like this with links to dictatorships? Other reports
    have alleged that Ratzinger and Sodano were rivals for power and that Sodano
    prevented Ratzinger from exposing some sex abuse earlier. Who knows.

    Definitely not sure about Schonborn, though. He is playing a deeply political
    game as well. In the past, he has made some statements, then retracted them,
    doubling around. Now he seems to be making a bolder move.

    With all of this politics, there is not much in the way of Christian love
    in the Vatican.

    Would love to hear your thoughts in another blog post though, especially
    since Schonborn is one of your Papabili.


  11. Megan,
    As ever YOU are on the ball. I had seen the Times Online article just prior to getting your email. Did YOU see the MISTAKE they had about Car. Sodano attending the next conclave! I submitted a correction BUT they have deemed not to publish it. I guess they don’t like to be told when they are WRONG. [Actually that error got ME thinking and I did some research this morning. Universi Dominici Gregis and Canon Law do NOT cover the situation of a Camerlengo turning 80 just prior or during a sede vacante!]
    Megan, as for Car. Schonborn, I think (and as ever I could be wrong) he has given up on being a papabili [MAYBE, because I ranked him at #8 <>]
    Humor apart, after Benedict, I am sure the electors will want to stay away from Austro-German candidates. I have heard both very good and very ‘bad’ about Schonborn. I kind of like him. I can relate to him though his views on Intelligent Design and celibacy amuse me no end. Do you think the cardinal has been celibate all his clerical life? I don’t know. I just wonder. Good looking, charismatic guy with BLUE BLOOD.
    I was thinking about YOUR comments and Schonborn on my morning run.
    That Schonborn is a bona fide blue blood helps. It gives him innate confidence — you could even call it arrogance. [Without going into specific, I can relate … given my upbringing in Ceylon … where my father, though not a blue blood, was definitely an integral member of the RULING class.]
    Schonborn is right. The way the pope and the Vatican is handling the clergy sex abuse scandal makes me MAD. Schonborn should take on the pope!
    Megan, you say ‘not much in the way of Christian love in the Vatican.’
    Megan, what about Christian LOVE by the pope when it comes to the abused.
    Megan, have you looked at these links
    Megan, PLEASE watch this CNN video:
    This is a very sick ‘administration.’
    I am NOW going to shock you to YOUR CORE.
    I am working on trying to determine the role of the Holy Spirit in the election of Benedict XVI (#266).
    If the Holy Spirit had a say in Benedict’s election, then I will CONTEND that the Holy Spirit was ‘OK’ with any and all cover ups that Car. Ratzinger did … irrespective of the pain and damage to the victims.
    If the Holy Spirit ‘OKed’ Benedict’s election then ALL Christians should back OFF the pope.
    If the Holy Spirit was OK with Benedict’s election it would also mean that the Holy Spirit was OK with Benedict’s handling of the sex abuse.
    Then all Christians should just sit back and say … the sex abuse scandal is in God’s hands.
    As for John Paul II, totalitarianism, (dear Old, misguided) Pinochet and Sodano … here is my latest views on John Paul II (#265). Despite his personal persona, he was, PARTLY due to his background, a ruthless, hard-nut totally obsessed with a conservative principles. I don’t know how much you know of US politics but John Paul II was the Dick Cheney of the Vatican! Fifty years from now papal historians will be able to study him sans the current view of his saintliness.
    That is good for now. Sorry to be outspoken, but like Schonborn, I was blessed to be brought up to speak my mind … as long as I told the truth and BELIEVED in what I said.
    Thanks Megan.
    Anura Guruge

  12. Thank you for your thoughtful response, Anura. I, of course, respectfully, disagree. 🙂

    Christians should by no means “back off the Pope.” No human is above accountability. We know from the terrible crimes commited throughout history that the papacy does little to reflect the glory of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete or “Comforter” who, as this moment, is surely to be found with the victims of abuse, not those who would seek to cover it up.

    As the old saying goes, “scum rises to the surface” and sadly, the Vatican exemplifies this. It is a millstone dragging the Catholic Church to its death. If anything, the college of cardinals should be dissolved and the Vatican turned into a museum.

    Catholicism has only survived through the centuries through the honest, grassroot Christians like Francis of Assisi and Therese of Lisieux. Without them, and countless other unsung heroes, the whole system would have already collapsed.

    The Roman Catholic denomination (for it is only one form of Christianity amongst many) and not the “one true church” or any such propagandadistic nonsense, is blinded by its own arrogance and imperialistic mindset. Thankfully, due to the internet, light is finally shining on the darkness. Hopefully, the dispute between Sodano and Schonborn, political point-scoring though it may be, will serve the purpose of the Holy Spirit to undermine the secrecy of this institution.

  13. Megan,
    The ability to have polite debate, with multiple viewpoints getting discussed, is what separates us from the other mammals. I am DELIGHTED that you disagree with me. I have no problem with that.
    I love YOUR second paragraph. So how come so many others don’t get this?
    Megan, my NEXT project is to promote electoral reform when it comes to the papacy! Having the cardinal electors elect the pope is an artificial and now out-dated concept.
    Also agree 100% with your fourth paragraph.
    Ditto last paragraph. So we have more closure than you would have thought.
    PLEASE keep the thoughts and discussions coming. It is good for me. IF you don’t hear from me for a few days don’t panic. I have some medical issues that need attention. Writing the last book appears to have done a job on my heart.
    All the best. THANK YOU.

 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