The Church’s new princes
In five weeks’ time, Pope Benedict XVI will create 22 new cardinals in the fourth consistory of his pontificate, 18 of whom will be eligible to vote in the next conclave to choose a new Pope. So who are those swelling the elite ranks of the Church?
If there were any doubts before last week, it is now clear to many that Pope Benedict XVI wants to keep the papacy firmly in the hands of the Europeans. The Vatican’s announcement last week that Pope is to create 22 new cardinals in a consistory on 18 February revealed that nearly three-quarters of those receiving a red hat are from Europe (seven alone from Italy). The remainder of the appointments in this the fourth consistory of the Ratzinger pontificate include three new cardinals from North America, two from Asia and one from Brazil. Four of those appointed are beyond the age of 80 and so ineligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new Pope.
Ten of the new cardinals are currently in charge of Roman Curia or Rome-based offices that, by long-standing custom, are almost always headed by a cardinal. Several in this year’s group were named to their posts as a reward for a lifetime of service to the Holy See. Others are in a position, such as head of a congregation, where it is considered essential that he be of the highest ecclesiastical rank. The remainder are those who are residential bishops heading major archdioceses that are traditionally headed by cardinals.
As of 18 February there will be 125 cardinal-electors, five beyond the ceiling of 120 set by Pope Paul VI. And for the first time, now standing at 63 those created by Benedict XVI will outnumber by one those created by Blessed John Paul II. In the course of nearly seven years as Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict will have created a total of 68 cardinal-electors, although three of these have already lost their vote by turning 80 and two others have died. He will have named 39 of the current 67 European electors (and 21 of the 30 Italians), but only six of the 22 voters from Latin America.
Significantly, 43 of the 125 electors are heads or retired heads of Roman offices, while another 14 residential cardinals once worked for the Vatican as priests. This puts the Curia voting bloc at 57 members. It is not apparent that this group, the Italian bloc or the European coalition as a whole is united enough to ensure the election of one of its members. But these distinct interest groups will all be determinant in choosing a compromise candidate who becomes the next pope.
These are the men the Pope will create cardinals next month at the Vatican in the order he announced them on 6 January:
1. Fernando Filoni, 65 (Italy); Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples (Propaganda Fide) since May 2011. This lifelong Vatican diplomat served for a decade in Hong Kong and, as nuncio to Iraq, he was the only foreign ambassador to remain in the country after the United States-led invasion in 2003. Most recently he spent four years as sostituto or Deputy Secretary of State for Internal Affairs. An alumnus of the prestigious Accademia Ecclesiastica for papal diplomats.
2. Manuel Monteiro de Castro, 73 (Portugal); Major Penitentiary since January 2012. This papal diplomat was nuncio in several countries in the Caribbean, Latin America and South Africa. After serving as the Pope’s man in Madrid, he spent four years as archbishop-secretary of the Congregation for Bishops. An Accademia Ecclesiastica alumnus.
3. Santos Abril y Castelló, 76 (Spain); Archpriest of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore since November 2011. He was recently named vice Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church after a long career as a papal nuncio in several countries in the Balkans, Latin America and Africa. He, too, has an Accademia pedigree.
4. Antonio Maria Vegliò, 74 (Italy); President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People since February
2009. This career diplomat was nuncio to several countries in Africa and the Middle East, before spending eight years as archbishop-secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Another graduate of Rome’s Accademia Ecclesiastica.
5. Giuseppe Bertello, 69 (Italy); Governor of Vatican City State since October 2011. Finished a long and illustrious diplomatic career as nuncio to Italy before being appointed to his current post. He, too, was groomed at the Accademia.
6. Francesco Coccopalmerio, 73 (Italy); President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts since February 2007. This top-notch, Rome-trained canon lawyer and professor served as an auxiliary in Milan from 1996
until his current Vatican post.
7. João Braz de Aviz, 64 (Brazil); Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life since January 2011. The only Latin American of the consistory, he was named an auxiliary bishop in 1994 after 20 years of parish and seminary work. A member of the Focolare Movement with degrees from the Gregorian and Lateran Universities, he headed the Archdiocese of Brasilia for seven years prior to his Vatican appointment.
8. Edwin O’Brien, 72 (US); Pro-Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre since August 2011. A former rector of the seminary in his native Archdiocese of New York and the North American College in Rome, he was head of the US Military Archdiocese for 10 years. In 2007 he was named Archbishop of Baltimore, distinguishing himself by banning the Legionaries of Christ.
4 | THE TABLET | 14 January 2012