What if the papal conclave took place today?

At Il Sismografo I saw some interesting stats about the College of Cardinals.

The College today, 26 June 2018
Total electors – 114
Total non electors – 98
Total College – 212

Cardinals created by John Paul II
Electors – 19
Non electors – 58
Total – 77

Created by Benedict XVI
Electors – 47
Non electors – 28
Total – 75

Electors – 48
Non electors – 12
Total – 60

What the College of Cardinals will look like after the consistory on 28 June 2018
Total electors – 125
Total non electors – 101
Total College – 226

John Paul II
Electors – 19
Non electors – 58
Total – 77

Benedict XVI
Electors – 47
Non electors – 28
Total – 75

Electors – 59
Non electors – 15
Total – 74

NB: Were Pope Francis to die or resign in the next day or two, that is before the consistory of 28 June, then the appointments would be voided and the men chosen to be new cardinals would not be cardinals and the prospective electors would not participate in the conclave.  The document that deals with law for the conclaves Universi Dominici gregis says: “A Cardinal of Holy Roman Church who has been created and published before the College of Cardinals thereby has the right to elect the Pope.”  The consistory must take place.

Also, to be an elector a cardinal must be no more than eighty years of age on the day before the death or resignation of the Pope.  That’s how Card. Kasper squeaked into the last consistory.  Benedict resigned on 28 Feb and Kasper’s 80th birthday was 5 March.  Had Benedict set his resignation for a few days later, Kasper would have been ineligible, even though the conclave itself began on 12 March.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals presides over a conclave, unless he cannot enter the conclave because he is not an elector. In that case the Vice-Dean takes his role. Dean Card. Sodano is over 80, so Vice Dean Card. Re would take the role, which would include asking the newly elected Pope if he accepts the election.  However, Re is over 80, too.  What to do?

Universi Dominici gregis says that if the Dean and the Vice-Dean are non-electors, then the senior elector in order of precedence assumes the functions of the Dean during the conclave.  The senior Cardinal elector, right now, is Béchara Boutros Raï, who is Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites.

The guy who announces the new Pope from the balcony of St. Peter’s is the Protodeacon of the College (the College is divided into orders of deacons, priests and bishops, depending on the level of dignity of their titles). This is the senior among the Cardinal Deacons. He also puts the pallium on the new Pope. The present Protodeacon is Card. Martino, Cardinal Deacon of the Diaconal Title of San Francesco di Paoli ai Monti. He is 85. He is not an elector, so he can’t participate in the conclave. Of course, at the moment of the announcement, the conclave is over.  That said, the next in line, Card. Amato, is 80.  However, the next in line after Amato in the diaconal order in the College is Card. Sarah, who is 72. He is Cardinal Deacon of San Giovanni Bosco in via Tuscolana.

Most of the men who are given the red hat for a position in the Curia are Cardinal Deacons. Most of the men who are given the red hat who are ordinary bishops of dioceses are Cardinal Priests. It is possible after some years for a Cardinal Deacon to be promoted to Cardinal Priest even though he retains his diaconal title.  A few cardinals who have or had senior positions in the Curia are made Cardinal Bishops of the Suburbicarian Dioceses close to Rome.  Right now, none of the Cardinal Bishops can vote in a conclave and only one of the three Cardinal Bishop Patriarchs can vote, and he will, as mentioned above, run the conclave if it needs to occur right away.

However, today, 26 June, the Pope issued a Rescriptum ex audientia concerning the order of Cardinal Bishops.    Francis raised four cardinals to the dignity of Cardinal Bishops, leaving them in their titles.  They don’t get titular dioceses like the other Card. Bishops have.  The four Cardinals are Sec. of State Parolin (title Ss. Simone e Giuda Taddeo a Torre Angela), Prefect of Oriental Churches Sandri (title Ss. Biagio e Carlo ai Catinari), Prefect of Bishops Ouellet (title S. Maria in Traspontina) and Prefect of Evangelization Filoni (DIACONAL title Nostra Signora di Coromoto in S. Giovanni di Dio).  This goes into force on 28 June.

Effectively, this rearranges the order that Cardinals will go in procession and where they will sit, who concelebrates, etc.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Midwest St. Michael says:

    As a St. Louis Cardinals fan – I approve this post. :^)

    Go Redbirds, beat the Indians!

  2. Thomas S says:

    Has anyone knowledgeable about these matters done a real analysis of the “blocs” within the College? Are we close to a tipping point? Granted, the last conclave elected Bergoglio, but maybe they didn’t get what they bargained for. In short, are we more likely to get a Sarah or a Tagle?

  3. JamesA says:

    I’m not at ALL knowledgeable. And we should all believe that the Holy Spirit is very active in a Conclave. Thankfully this isn’t about mathematical formulae.
    However, it seems to me that when the number of voting Cardinals that Francis has appointed exceeds the number that St. JP II and BXVI have left, we are likely in dangerous territory. In other words, pretty quickly.
    Oh, “to get a Sarah” ! Wouldn’t that be awesome ?

  4. John V says:

    This post brings to mind a remarkable online resource, The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church compiled and published by Salvador Miranda. He has the cardinals catalogued in every way imaginable, e.g., date of birth, alphabetical, precedence, date of creation, etc., plus biographies, pictures, information about conclaves, and more.

  5. Thomas S says:


    I’m not sure it’s that clean cut. Each pope appointed a mixed bag, to one degree or another. I’ve heard from some that the next crop isn’t too bad. I’m wondering if anyone has an educated opinion on where that balance currently rests.

  6. Kenneth Wolfe says:

    And remember the JPII and Benedict cardinals (Dolan, DiNardo, Wuerl, O’Malley, etc.) are not necessarily conservative, while the Francis cardinals are almost all solidly liberal.

    It would take a miracle to get anyone close to Cardinal Sarah elected pope with this stacked deck. Get ready for Francis II, aka Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle of Manila, who was made a cardinal by Benedict.

  7. Thomas S says:

    “[T]he Francis cardinals are almost all solidly liberal.”

    Do we actually know that, or do we assume? That’s the nub of my question. Has anyone taken a serious account of the Francis appointments?

  8. gio says:

    Concerning the new cardinal bishops without suburbicarian sees……… Since cardinal bishops are now purely titular bishops of the suburbicarian sees, this would make the new cardinal bishops titular titular (twice titular) bishops. Even then, it seems they have no actual titular roman sees. Did the pope temporarily elevate their titular churches into mini dioceses? Would it be more logical if he just elevated one of the non suburbicarian suffragan dioceses of the roman province?

  9. HvonBlumenthal says:

    I had a stab at it.

    I looked at about 45 voting Cardinals so far, trawling the internet for hints about their views.

    I concluded that about 20 are relativists, and about 25 are concerned that the relativist direction in which some parts of the Church is heading is un Catholic and (in old fashioned terms) heretical.

    Of course such a statistic is meaningless as I haven’t looked at the other two thirds of the voting cardinals.

  10. tcole says:

    One of the notable aspects of this addition of the new Cardinal-Bishops is that, once the elevation is complete, there would be a new presiding cardinal at a future papal conclave: Pietro Cardinal Parolin.

    As I understand it, precedence among the Cardinal-Bishops is based on the timing of their elevation to that Order of Bishops — not when they first became a cardinal — and Cardinal-Bishops of Suburbicarian Sees take precedence over Cardinal-Patriarchs. That means these four new Cardinal-Bishops are now the senior Cardinal-Electors by precedence, and all be elevated at the same time, the one listed first is the most senior; that is Cardinal Parolin…

  11. tcole says:

    Gio — I would think that the intention is to provide these four new Cardinal-Bishops with suburbicarian sees as the titles become available, rather than permanently expanding the Order of Bishops, by adding new titles like that of Tivoli, Viterbo, or Civita Castellana.

    I think this is an effort to ensure that, in the circumstances, there are Cardinal-Electors (under 80) among the Order of Bishops. Otherwise, you are right: why not add some more suburbicarian titles to the existing seven? Those three local dioceses I mentioned seem great candidates…

  12. gio says:

    Tcole- you are right, this might have been done for practical reasons. But logically it dosent make make sense. Cardinal bishops are technically the bishops of suburbicarian sees, their titles as bishops derive from those sees. Joseph Ratzinger when he became cardinal priest kept the title of Munich and Freising as emeritus. But when he became cardinal bishop of Villetri-Segni, he lost the title to Munich and Freising since he was given a new see.

    Now these new cardinal bishops. Three of them (Parolin, Sandri and Filoni) I presume retain their previous titular sees and Ouellet still holds the title Archbishop Emeritus of Quebec. But those sees are not suburbicarian, Technically they can’t be called cardinal bishops without being giben a suburbicarian diocese. As is, they can be considered “cardinal bishops nullius”. The only explanation I can think of is that their present cardinal titular churches are somehow elevated into xiocese temporarily into dioceses.

    Perhaps our host Fr. Z can say someting about this since he is a priest from a suburbicarian diocese….

  13. tcole says:

    Gio — I looked up those new Cardinal-Bishops, and it seems that for the three that have never been an Ordinary of a Diocese, they ceased to have a titular see once they were elevated to the College of Cardinals.

    For example, Cardinal Parolin, when consecrated bishop back in 2009, was given the title of titular Archbishop of Aquipendium. When he was made Cardinal-Priest of Santi Simoni e Giuda Taddeo a Torre Angela in February 2014, he ceased to be titular of Aquipendium. Indeed, later in 2014 (Apr) Fabio Fabene was named titular bishop of Aquipendium.

    So, I guess title to a Roman parish gets the job done!

  14. TonyO says:

    I’m not sure it’s that clean cut. Each pope appointed a mixed bag, to one degree or another.

    Popes Paul, John Paul II, and Benedict all elevated men in a way that tried to be neutral about the man’s “personal” leanings (and by “persnal” I don’t mean national or global politics, but their approach to both political and Church matters): i.e. attempting to elevate without regard to whether they are “left-leaning” or “right-leaning”. At least, that’s how it seems, because all three appointed lots of left and right-leaning men.

    Francis seemingly has no intention of being neutral in that way. He seems pretty solidly bent on elevating men who are more like him, and not elevating men who are more right-leaning than him. I cannot think of a single elevation of his that is of a clearly traditional stance. He is “stacking the deck” as it were, to get a much more left / liberal / progressive college of cardinals than it ever was before. And I have no reason to doubt he is doing the same thing with priests to bishops, which ensures a heavy burden of liberals in the hierarchy for decades to come.

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