The Pope’s hinge-men: a proposal about cardinals.

A great deal hinges on the naming of cardinals.  The very word comes from Latin cardo, “hinge”.  Cardinals are the Pope’s hingemen.

Phil Lawler made a proposal about the naming of new cardinals.  Here is a key passage.

Rather than appointing the heads of major metropolitan archdioceses—the so-called “red hat sees” that traditionally have been guided by a cardinal-archbishop—the Pope might look for bishops who have shown that they can instill new vigor and evangelical purpose into their dioceses, and bring more souls to Christ.

He also makes the observation that this should be the criterion for appointment to any position, any diocese.

Once, probably around the time of the surprise appointment of Card. DiNardo, I opined that there perhaps there should be in countries such as the USA a couple, three hats that “float” around.  Rather than automatically make, say, the Archbishop of Detroit or Baltimore cardinals (which may not be the case in the future), why not some one in the model of, say, Bp. Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO.  Surprise!   Raise them to some cardinalatial diocese later, or not, as it is opportune.

That would keep bishops on their toes.

I also hold in my mind-eye the sight of a galero in the little cathedral of Fargo, ND, where Card. Muench returned to be bishop.

I think I might just name a couple priests cardinals, priests well under 80 years old.  Surprise!

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  1. Geoffrey says:

    I always thought that when a bishop is appointed to a “red hat see”, the Holy See already knows that individual will one day be elevated to the Sacred College, and so that figures into the process of choosing the bishop.

  2. Dr. Eric says:

    Or why not move Bishop Finn to a “red hat” See.

  3. That would be an interesting thing if it did happen that way. I can think of a few bishops who are worthy of the red hat.

  4. Thomas S says:

    Imagine a non-cardinal ordinary with one of his priest’s being named a cardinal. Might not be fair to the bishop as it could severely undercut the exercise of his authority.

    I love the idea of “Wild Card-inals.” A holy bishop of a tiny diocese suddenly plucked from relative obscurity and elevated to the Sacred College? What a fantastic story.

  5. Scott W. says:

    Chaput could use a red chapeau. [bass-drum, rimshot]

  6. maynardus says:

    In addition to the criteria Phil proposes, I’ve always felt that when a bishop arrives for his ad limina the pope ought to be holding a dossier of clippings from his hometown newspaper.

    A good interview might go something like: “Well, your excellency, the ‘Happydale Crier’ consistently runs editorials excoriating you for your “intolerance”, and these pictures of you being hauled-away from in front of the ‘Happydale Womens’ Health Clinic’ by those policemen are really something… How many days did you spend in the local jail? I also see that they refer to you as ‘paternalistic’ and ‘oppressive’ because those two new orders of nuns in your diocese wear the habit. And there were quite a few stories about cost overruns on that new wing you had to add to your seminary. Apparently they think you spent too much on the chapel and that the money should have been given to the poor… It really doesn’t sound as though you’re very well liked back home…”

    Perhaps a formula could be worked out – at least one arrest for civil disobedience in support of the Faith, plus an average of at least one front-page denunciation per year from the local MSM, in order to get onto the “short list”! It would be nice to have some men who know what the RED is for! (OK, tongue only partially in cheek…)

  7. Tantum Ergo says:

    Invigorating the Church could use some thinking out of the (hat) box!

  8. Cardinal Muench remained the Bishop of Fargo after the war while he was also serving as Nuncio to Germany. However, it was when the Pope appointed him a cardinal that he resigned as Bishop of Fargo. He only returned there once after being made a cardinal…to say goodbye. He never actually served in Fargo as a cardinal but he did leave his galero to the cathedral because he chose to be buried in Fargo (since it is the prerogative of all bishops to choose their final resting place.)

  9. Jayna says:

    I have to say that I am mildly annoyed by the idea of “red hat sees.” I suppose someone who was being groomed for the galero would be appointed to a diocese that has traditionally been led by a cardinal, but like you said Father, let’s keep those bishops on their toes. It’s almost a disincentive for those who are not in those sees. I say we reward those who serve the Church as she should be served, whether they are in the Curia, the Archdiocese of New York or, say, the Diocese of Kansas City.

  10. Thomas S says:

    I love the idea of “Wild Card-inals.” A holy bishop of a tiny diocese plucked from obscurity and elevated to the Sacred College while remaining in his see? Fantastic! It sounds like some legend out of a fairy tale.

  11. irishgirl says:

    Bishop Finn would make an EXCELLENT Cardinal! But let him stay in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese!

  12. chatto says:

    I love the idea of bringing Priest-Cardinals back. They were part of the Church’s organisation for a long time – bishops didn’t get a stick up about it then, and even if they did, they could lump it! The Pope had decided. Priest-Cardinals like Bl. John Henry Newman and Avery Card. Dulles (to name the only two I can think of), had a very different role in the Church from that of Bishop, but that shouldn’t stop an able pastor, theologian, or preacher from getting a red hat.

  13. Fred says:

    The etymology putatively relating Cardinal to the Latin “cardo” is badly flawed. “Cardo” also means axis, and from this “cardinalis” was used together with viae and the like to denote some of Rome’s thoroughfares, which ran parallel. In time, cardinalis came to mean “principle” and “very important,” from which we have our usage of Cardinal.

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