Consistory…. when?

One of these days Pope Benedict will announce a consistory and the names of those whom he intends to make cardinals.

There remains speculation that a consistory might be called for the Solemnity of Christ the King in November.   If that is the case, time is getting short.

The present legislation foresees 120 voting cardinals.  That number fluctuates according to the workings of the biological solution and the will of the Roman Pontiff.

There are at present quite a few important curial positions and sees around the world which usually have cardinals… but don’t.

At the time of this writing, I believe there are 103 voting cardinals (men who have not turned 80 years old).  By the end of November two more cardinals will hit 80 (Tumi, Pujats), bringing the number of voting cardinals down to 101.  By the end of next February, four more (Panafieu, Vidal, García-Gasco, Ruini – sadly) – 97.  By the end of April two more (Keeler, Sebastiani) – 95.  So, an American and two Italians will have dropped from the list, leaving 10 Americans and 15 Italians as electors.

I am guessing that the USA would pick up 3, including Dolan (NY), Burke (Curia), and probably Wuerl (D.C. although there still as two living retired cardinals), and I doubt that Detroit and Baltimore will remain cardinalatial sees.  That would give the USA 13.  The Italians will probably pick up 8 including Romeo (Palermo), Bettori (Florence), Amato (Curia), De Paolis (Curia), Baldelli (Curia), Ravasi (Curia), Vegliò, (Curia), Monterisi (Curia).  Italy – 23, which strikes me a few too many.  Spain could get 3 (Toledo, Valencia, Sevilla).  Spain will have lost one.  Spain – 8.

Of course important sees such as Westminster, Rio, Toronto, Warsaw, Munich will get cardinals.  A few others.  Hong Kong?  Colombo?  There will surely be a sprinkling of hats for men over 80, probably old theologians.

So an announcement … Sunday at the Angelus?  Next Wednesday’s General Audience?  Postponed until after next Easter?  Guesses?

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  1. PghCath says:

    An interesting assertion about Archbishop Dolan, Father. Most people think he’ll have to wait for next time as Cardinal Egan is only 78. We’ll see. . .

    As for timing, my vote is for an announcement before the end of October.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    I don’t see it (yet) for Archbishops Dolan and Wuerl, [McCarrick is now 80.] as their respective cardinals are not yet 80 years old. Perhaps that is why the next consistory is taking so long? Maybe the Holy Father is waiting for certain cardinals to reach, or get closer to, the age of 80? Either way, the Holy Father knows what he is doing, and so we can rest easy… Deo gratias!

  3. Dr. K says:

    Either way, the Holy Father knows what he is doing, and so we can rest easy

    Even if he does, he should act sooner rather than later to ensure the good of the Church for years to come. You never know with health, especially when you’re up around Pope Benedict’s age.

  4. Warren says:

    Archbishop Raymond Burke
    Archbishop Kurt Koch
    Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz (Warsaw)
    Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith (Colombo)
    Archbishop Thomas Collins (Toronto)
    Archbishop Vincent Nichols (Westminster)

    Dolans (NY)
    Orani Joao (Rio de Janeiro)
    Donald Wuerl (Washington)

  5. Martin_B says:

    Fr. Z: Of course important sees such as Westminster, Rio, Toronto, Warsaw, Munich will get cardinals.

    I don’t hope so!
    Archbishop Marx has been much of a dissapointment. Especially in the way he joined the attack on Bishop Mixa and by his dealings with the abbot of Ettal, whom he (unjustified) pressed to leave his office.
    So, as much as the pope might want his former see to continue to be a cardinatial one, the present incumbent should be skipped.

  6. Moscatelli says:

    Wouldn’t R Burke at the Signatura be on the list for the next consistory? And among Italians in the Curia, why list Ravasi and not Fisichella ..? And the Italian waiting list is soon to become even longer, as Turin and Milan are awaiting new bishops; the list being crowded, perhaps Romeo could wait a little longer ..! [Fisichella is still only nominally head of a dicastery that is the equivalent of curial vaporware.]

  7. aquisgranum says:

    Maybe not NYC, Westminster and Seville this time – the retired cardinal-archbishops there are still under 80. Obviously, Washington D.C. is different.

  8. Ben Trovato says:

    If I were the Holy Father (which, thank God, I’m not and never will be…) I should wait a little longer before giving Archbishop Nichols his red hat. There are a few, let us say anomalies, that I would like to see addressed first (the UK Catholic Education Service supporting abortion providers coming in to Catholic schools to arrange abortions [without parental knowledge of course], the Soho Gay Mass scandal and so on). After the tremendous success of the Holy Father’s visit here, many in the UK are waiting with bated breath to see if the huge boost to our Faith, Catholic identity and courage is also felt by our hierarchy.

  9. Vox clamantis in deserto says:

    Some more “eastern” tips:

    abp. Kowalczyk (Gniezno), primate of Poland
    abp. Andre-Joseph Leonard (Brussels – Mechelen), primate of Belgium
    some of Eastern Catholic patriarchs/major archbishops…but it’s difficult to choose one or two from a relatively high number

    Let’s pray for the red hat for abp. Ranjith!

    Abp. Marx (Munich) is not so sure, imho…he left a very good impression as the bishop of Trier, but since he has been sent to Munich…it’s a bit different cup of tea…a different cup of coffee, I wanted to say…not the Mystic Monk… :-)

  10. revs96 says:

    I think Dolan and Wuerl will have to wait b/c of the retired cardinals from their sees. There are a number of American bishops that deserve to named cardinal more than those two, but don’t have much of a chance this time around. These appointments are really important (especially for the younger archbishops-they’ll be around for more conclaves one would think) so the Church needs to avoid the bishops that have liberal “anomalies” as Ben said. Let’s not forget the Gay parish in NY and how Dolan handled that. RealCatholicTV had extensive coverage of that scandal. In the best interests of the Church and her health, new cardinals need to be as traditional and “reform of the reform”-minded as possible.

  11. kbf says:

    Ben Trovato says: “I should wait a little longer before giving Archbishop Nichols his red hat. There are a few, let us say anomalies, that I would like to see addressed first (the UK Catholic Education Service supporting abortion providers coming in to Catholic schools to arrange abortions [without parental knowledge of course], the Soho Gay Mass scandal and so on).”

    The problem he faces is the metality of “collegiality” that exists in the ECCB. The CES while it is a disgrace, especially over the fawning praise it gave Ed Balls as Labour SoS for education and his support for the equalities legislation that effectively outlawed freedom of conscience in the sex education syllabus and catholic adoption services, will have its corner fought by the other bishops who will not allow +Vincent to act arbitrarily. You can’t pin all of the administrative woes on his door just yet.

    That wouldn’t be the issue preventing him from becoming a cardial at the next consistory. That problem will be that +Cormac is only 78 and I doubt that we will see 2 English cardinals of voting age. I expect that +Vincent is going to have to wait another 2 or 3 years.

  12. jmhj5 says:

    I sure love my Archbishop Chaput! This Holy Father is full of new and traditional ways.
    God Bless

  13. It would be a great disappointment to see Bishop Wuerl be named. That would not fit ‘brick by brick’ at all! more of a wrecking ball. I saw him in person a few months after his infamous Washington D. C. Papal Mass. He was still congratulating himself on how he ‘showed the pope what the American Church is about’.Too bad I don’t have a video of his sermon. Unbelievable!

    here’s a link to an article where he seems to condemn conservative catholic bloggers to the 9th circle of hell……


  14. Arieh says:

    I am praying hard for Colombo! The Church needs Archbishop Ranjith in a red hat.

  15. medievalist says:

    This should be +Collins’ (Toronto) year, since the cardinal emeritus, Cardinal Ambrozic, turned eighty earlier this year. I’m less sure about +Nichols (Westminster) simply because Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is still a voting member of the College, so to elevate the current archbishop would upset the national balance of cardinals in any election.

    Of course, we all hope that THAT particular conclave is far, far, far, far off.

  16. Phil_NL says:

    Dr. Ed Peters had a great post about this a while ago:

    His argument is basically that naming a big number of cardinals will help him shape the next election – may it be many years away still, but it will come some day.

    If that is indeed an important part of the Holy Father’s reasoning, than I hope he will take some liberties with the established practices of granting red hats mainly based on the traditional role of the episcopal see and whether a pervious cardinal from that see is still of voting age. There are a few that might be best skipped, others who – in my humble opinion – would be great. For example, it would be a shame if abp Eijk (Utrecht, Netherlands – it’s noticeable the Dutch church is running a tighter ship these days) would be passed over because his predecessor, Simonis, is only 78. Something similar seems to be the case in Belgium, and undoubtedly in many countries and sees around the world.

    While in theory each new bishop could be vetted to such a degree that only the most competent and holy ones are named, in practice this turns out to be a lot more difficult. The ‘best’ candidate might not be a good one, only the least poor. The process of redirecting the episcopate has been extraordinarily slow in many countries, and the college of cardinals reacts slower still. I hope the Holy Father will speed it up a notch or two.

  17. Me says:

    Bishop Koch of Basel will be made a Cardinal in the next consistory. Please add him to your list.

  18. The question is not the Who.

    The question is the When.

  19. SimonDodd says:

    In the distant past, the consistory used to be a daily or at least weekly event. See Hilling, Procedure at the Roman Curia 47 (2d ed. 1909). Is there something that would restrain a Pope from having a Consistory in the fall and then another one next spring—indeed, whenever he likes? On a practical level, canon 353 doesn’t even require the participation of all cardinals; those present in Rome suffice.

    What is the advantage of waiting?

  20. robtbrown says:

    If the pope wants to have two Cardinals, one retired, from the same see, he does it. Cardinal Caffarra was made a Cardinal while Cardinal Biffi was not yet 80. Rome, however, sometimes uses the double red hat as an excuse to withhold it from a bishop. Sometimes with new bishops in Cardinalatial sees, Rome wants to see their performance before a red hat is given.

    Re Abp Wuerl: If Sodano were still Sec of State, W would get a red hat subito, but with the present staff (Bertone and Filoni), it is not so certain. There might be some doubt about W, and I suspect that he was named to handle the US Anglican conversion as a Roman test–it could also be a Roman trap.

    BTW, it is hard to find a bigger faceplant by a Vatican correspondent than Desmond O’Grady’s. Writing in OSV about the coming 1983 consistory, he said that only one red hat was certain, and that was for Abp Jean Jadot. JJ had been the nunzio to the US until JPII, following the advice of Cardinal Kroll, kicked him upstairs to the Secetariat of Non Christians.

    Not only did Abp Jadot not receive the red hat, but he was given early retirement from the Secretariat. He didn’t retire for health because he lived to be 99.

  21. robtbrown says:

    Phil_NL says:

    Dr. Ed Peters had a great post about this a while ago.

    His argument is basically that naming a big number of cardinals will help him shape the next election – may it be many years away still, but it will come some day.

    Conclave is always a factor in naming Cardinals.

  22. danphunter1 says:

    I shall pray for His Excellency Bishop Fellay to be elevated to Cardinal.
    When:Within the year.

  23. Consilio et Impetu says:

    Just because Cardinal Egan is still alive does not mean Archbishop Dolan cannot be created a Cardinal. John Cardinal Krol was alive when Anthony Cardinal Bevilaqua was raised to the College of Cardinals and Cardinal Bevilaqua is still alive and Justin Cardinal Rigali was raised to that august body just a few weeks before taking the cathedra in Philadelphia. As for Baltimore, since it is the Primatial See of the U.S.A., that should automatically keep it as a cardinalatial see. However, politics plays a role in church affairs just like it does in any other institution.

  24. TNCath says:

    I predict the Holy Father will announce the Consistory on Sunday, October 17, roughly one month before the actual Consistory. That was what he did last time.

  25. Nathan says:

    The Holy Father announced the last consistory at a Wednesday General Audience. There dosen’t seem to be any publicly discussed reason why he wouldn’t do that again. If he wants to take a similar route (end of November consistory), this next Wednesday, October 6, makes sense.

    Of course, that assumes quite a bit….

    In Christ,

  26. SimonDodd says:

    Dan, I’m finding it hard to understand why a bishop illicitly ordained, excommunicated for it until 2009, and who continues to undertake actions that are “gravely illicit, … criminal and sacrilegious,” see Ad Apostolorum Principis, nos. 38-42 (Pius XII, 1958), would be given a red hat in 2010?

  27. PaulK says:

    With Ouellette in Rome, Canada needs a new Archbishop of Quebec and primate for Canada. Maybe Archbishop Prendergast for the post plus a red zucchetto?

  28. robtbrown says:

    There is no primate of the US, thus no primatial see. Baltimore is the primary see because it was the first.

    When Abp Borders was in Baltimore, he never received the red hat.

  29. danphunter1 says:

    I’m kidding.

  30. It may also be that our current pope is of opinion that there should be fewer cardinals, or at least that certain posts shouldn’t be a red-hat gimme.

  31. Jim of Bowie says:

    …certain posts shouldn’t be a red-hat gimme.
    Hope you’re right about that.

  32. SimonDodd says:

    I’m a dork. No kidding. ;) Thanks for the clarification!

  33. DisturbedMary says:

    Please God, Archbishop Chaput. He has the makings of a Thomas More. Wuerl lives in the Washington bubble. — How about Finn of Kansas?

  34. I’m praying for Bishop Athanasius Schneider to be given a red hat myself, in God’s time though

  35. Again… this really isn’t about your favorite bishops being made cardinals. It is more about WHEN there will be a consistory. Was that part hard?

  36. Phil_NL says:

    Fr. Z., Rotbrown,

    Respectfully, the central point of the argument by Ed Peters – which is think is quite convincing – is that the when is intimately tied to the who and even the ‘message’ of the consistory – a message of this pope to the next conclave (long may it wait).

    The Pope does not strike me as someone who would exceed the limit of 120 cardinal elctors, even though he could. So the longer he waits, the more people he can name (that a particular country might drop to historical lows in between will probably not interest him one bit). Moreover, if he can name a large number, he can sent a much clearer message: namely those who are passed over, are not passed over due to the limited number of spots. And by selecting more cardinals of a particular brand (the ‘brick-by-brick’ brand, preferably) he can create / advance not only a voting block, but infuse the sacred college with a positive message. He can set a course if this message is supported by a large number of new cardinals.

  37. Phil_NL says:

    But as to the when: I don’t have insider info, as probably no-one has here, but if you want a guess from me: early 2011.

  38. SimonDodd says:

    Phil, I don’t understand your comment, because it goes to the question raised in my 9:25 AM comment above. You write that “the longer he waits, the more people he can name.” How so? If you mean to say “the longer he waits, the more people he can name in one consistory,” I understand, but my question is then why does it matter whether they are named in one consistory? What stops the Pope from holding one consistory this fall and another in the spring? And if the answer is (or amounts to) “nothing,” is it not incorrect to say that “the longer he waits, the more people he can name”?

    What am I missing?

  39. Phil_NL says:


    You do have a point there, that there is no reason why the Holy Father cannot have a consistory each month if he so pleases. On the other hand it has been a long standing tradition to have one every 1.5 to 2 years only. I can also imagine that it would be easier on the preparations that way, and that due to its relative rarity the meeting (cardinals are supposed to be all present, not just the newly named ones) gets more gravity. Last but not least, summoning all cardinals to Rome is something that requires quite a bit of effort and is not without cost either.

    It could be that we’ll have another consistory quickly afterwards, but the tendency is rather of increasing the periods between them, than reducing them. As to the why, I can only speculate, as I did above.

  40. robtbrown says:

    Phil_NL says:

    Respectfully, the central point of the argument by Ed Peters – which is think is quite convincing – is that the when is intimately tied to the who and even the ‘message’ of the consistory – a message of this pope to the next conclave (long may it wait).

    My central point is that the “when” is always tied to the “who”. Having read the Peters article, I wonder whether he has out thought himself a bit. BXVI named 18 Cardinals in first consistory but only 12 the next. Further, the Roman (read: Italian) way is positioning rather than long term projection. They know they don’t know when there will be the next conclave.

    I discovered during my Roman time that every few years another prime candidate emerged. If the pope died, then a certain Cardinal would be elected. For a few years in the early 90’s it was Gantin. Then later it was Laghi. No one was thinking Ratzinger. Moreover, I can remember Cardinal Silvestrini insinuating that the name of the next pope would come from the 1994 consistory.

    I also think concern that the US has fewer Cardinals than Italy is unwarranted. Catholic population is of little consequence: I know of a diocese (not archdiocese) in Switzerland that has more priests than Baltimore and Gal-Houston, both of which have a red hat history.

  41. SimonDodd says:

    Rob says: “They know they don’t know when there will be the next conclave.” That’s my concern in this. I don’t want to sound ghoulish, and I hope fervently that Benedict remains our Holy Father for many years to come. Nevertheless, the fact is that he’s 83 and has a schedule that would punish a man half his age. Waiting seems like a needless risk.

  42. Phil_NL says:


    While the papal election is unpredictable, BXVI has a masterplan, and combined with the fact that he is quite advanced in years, I think he’s treating the sacred college with more intent than some of his predecessors – not necessarily as to who they will elect, but what kind of men get to vote.

  43. robtbrown says:

    Phil says,

    I think he’s treating the sacred college with more intent than some of his predecessors

    And what proof do you have of that?

  44. robtbrown says:

    Simon Dodd,

    Generally, new Cardinals are named when the number of electors drops to about 100 or when a non Cardinal occupies a Vatican post normally held by a red hat.

  45. Phil_NL says:


    No evidence, obviously. But let’s take JPII as an example: several of his cardinals turned out rather disappointingly, right? You can probably name more than me, I suspect. Now not all cases that could have been known or prevented, but I think we can hazard the guess that, with the expectation of a long pontificate, the risk figured less prominately in JPII’s mind, especially in the early years.

  46. robtbrown says:

    You’re right, several of JPII’s Cardinals did turn out to be disappointments, but the situation in the Church is more settled now than in JPII’s first 15 years. Good gravy, when JPII took over, Cardinal Marty–a complete disaster–was still in Paris and didn’t retire until 1983. And there was still a program of persecution of the SSPX.

    Even after 15 years of JPII, there was still the push for women priests from vocation directors and formation teams in religious orders–thus Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The only talk now about women priests comes from wing nuts who have no position in the Church.

    Do you know the story of NY and and O’Connor? Bernardin, who was then running the US show, pushed hard for his man Abp Kelly of Louisville over Laghi’s man O’Connor. It went all the way to the pope, who gave Bernadin a big negatory. Of course, O’Connor got the job and made a big difference in the US episcopacy.

  47. Moscatelli says:

    As to the question WHEN: the blog mentions that a solemn papal Mass is scheduled for 21 November (Christ the King, NO); this Mass was not on the papal agenda, and the blog’s guess is that it has been inserted as it will be the Mass concelebrated by the Pope with the new Cardinals immediately following the consistory. So, Saturday 20 November.
    Also, next year there will be 9 new vacancies, and in 2012 as many as 13.

  48. ctek says:

    If certain interpretations of the prophesy about the last pope pertain to him and he knows it to be true, he wouldn’t need to call another consistory! :)

    (I know, but I just couldn’t resist!)

  49. mgalexander says:

    I’ve been hoping for some time that the consistory would be called for Christ the King. It does seem a bit late for that now. My guess is that it will be called for the Feast of the Chair of Peter (22nd February). That’s the When. I think and pray that the Who will include Burke and Ranjith. Despite the conventional wisdom, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dolan, Nichols, and Gomez on the list as well, the latter two with a view to balancing the influence of their predecessors at home and in conclave. After the most recent papal election, Damian Thompson wrote that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor “made a revealing slip of the tongue – ‘They voted… we voted for this man'”.

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