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Posted February 22, 2006

Comparing the Observations of John Allen of The National Catholic Reporter and The Catholic News Service on the Possibility of New Cardinals soon

John Allen in Rome Reporting
on the Appointment of New Cardinals

It looks increasingly like a consistory may be held on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. Word is that it will be a small consistory, as Benedict XVI wants to stay as close to the "ceiling" of 120 cardinals under the age of 80 as possible. As of today, there are 110 cardinals under 80, but between now and March 25, Cardinal Bernard Agré of the Ivory Coast and Irish Cardinal Desmond O'Connell will celebrate their 80th birthdays, leaving a total of 108.

Announcement of the consistory could be made as early as Pope Benedict's Wednesday Audience on Feb. 22.

While cardinals are personal appointments of the pope, and therefore Benedict XVI can name anyone he wants, those candidates commonly reckoned as probable include the following:

Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, Krakow, Poland
Archbishop Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Toledo, Spain
Archbishop André Armand Vingt-Trois, Paris, France
Archbishop Carlo Caffarra, Bologna, Italy
Archbishop William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Archbishop Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious
Archbishop Stanislao Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity
Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica and Vicar General for the Vatican City-State
Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of Cor Unum
Archbishop Agostino Vallini, Prefect of the Apostolic Segnatura

The star will be Dzwisz, especially given that the event will probably fall just a few days short of the first anniversary of the death of John Paul II, whom Dzwisz served as private secretary.

This list leaves at least two additional spots for candidates "on the bubble." Different observers assess their chances in varying ways, but commonly mentioned possibilities include the following:

Archbishop Diarmiud Martin, Dublin, Ireland
Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Hong Kong, China
Archbishop Sean O'Malley, Boston, United States
Archbishop Lluís Martínez Sistach, Barcelona, Spain
Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz, Brasilia, Brazil
Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Aparecida, Brazil
Archbishop Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Quito, Ecuador
Archbishop Gaudencio Borbon Rosales, Manila, Philippines

Asian news sources have already cited "Vatican sources" to the effect that Zen's nomination is all but assured.

Foley is a sentimental favorite. Now 70, Foley arrived in Rome in 1984, and ever since has earned a reputation as one of the kindest and most gregarious people in the Vatican. He is a widely sought after speaker, in part because with his gentleness and good humor he puts a positive face on Catholic officialdom.

Over the years, Foley has been rumored as a candidate for various American dioceses, or for other curial appointments, but instead has remained in place. The argument for making him a cardinal this time would be as a tribute to his decades of loyal, steady service -- an argument which may cut ice with Benedict XVI, a man with experience of staying put in a Vatican job.

The difficulty is that there are already a disproportionate number of American cardinals -- 13 all told, including 11 electors. The United States is the fourth largest Catholic country in the world, yet it has the largest block of cardinals after the Italians. The Americans have more electors than the Brazilians, Mexicans and Filipinos combined -- a block that represents over 30 percent of the Catholic population on earth. Hence it will be difficult to argue that the Americans merit two or three additional cardinals, and one American is already certain to be named -- Levada.

I ran into an Italian prelate recently, who asked me about the possibility of a consistory, and then ventured an opinion.

"I hope there aren't any more American cardinals," he said. "There are too many already."

That view is fairly widely held, and complicates consideration of any American candidate, Foley included.

The Catholic News Service

New cardinals? Rome buzzes with excitement as rumors fly

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) Sometime this year -- perhaps as early as March -- Pope Benedict XVI is expected to create his first batch of cardinals, a prospect that has already generated a buzz of excitement in Rome.

Vatican observers, especially journalists, tend to get overagitated when it comes to new cardinals. Since last summer, there have been at least three false alarms about impending consistories.

The current rumor is that the pope is preparing to name new cardinals in late February and invest them in late March. Holding a consistory during Lent would be unusual but not without precedent; Pope John XXIII did so twice in the 1960s.

The appointment of new cardinals is seen as a leading indicator of any papacy, but it's important to remember that, whenever Pope Benedict announces his choices, it will be a list that he has inherited in large part from his predecessor.

Of the 20 or so prelates most frequently mentioned as likely cardinal appointees, all but two were put in line for the red hat by Pope John Paul II. One of those two is Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, the late pope's personal secretary, who in a sense will also be seen as a Pope John Paul selection.

Only U.S. Archbishop William J. Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is considered a Pope Benedict appointee in this "likely cardinal" list.

Archbishop Levada is one of three Roman Curia officials virtually certain to be named cardinal. The others are Slovenian Archbishop Franc Rode, head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Italian Archbishop Agostino Vallini, head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican's highest tribunal.

Other Roman Curia possibilities include German Archbishop Paul Cordes, head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum; U.S. Archbishop John P. Foley, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; and Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

From the archdioceses around the world, potential cardinals include Archbishop Guadencio Rosales of Manila, Philippines; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland; French Archbishops Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris and Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux; Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy; Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Archbishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong; Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi, Vietnam; Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana'a Nzeki of Nairobi, Kenya; and Spanish Archbishop Antonio Canizares Llovera of Toledo.

Others occasionally mentioned in the cardinal sweepstakes are archbishops from Monterrey, Mexico; Dakar, Senegal; Brasilia, Brazil; and Barcelona, Spain.

There are a number of things to watch for when the list is announced:

-- The numbers. There are currently 178 cardinals, of whom 110 are under age 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. Two more cardinals turn 80 before March 25, the rumored date of the consistory.

The technical limit on the number of voting-age cardinals is 120. That means that if the pope respects that ceiling, he could name 12 new ones. The wild card factor is that Pope John Paul set aside the 120 limit more than once, swelling the ranks to as many as 135 under-80 cardinals. Pope Benedict, as supreme legislator, can also derogate, or suspend, this rule, but opinions are divided over whether he will do so.

-- The mix. If he wanted to, the pope could fill half the cardinal vacancies with Roman Curia officials. But the trend under Pope John Paul was toward more archdiocesan cardinals, and not always from places that were traditional cardinal sees.

People also will be looking carefully at the geographic distribution, to see if Pope Benedict continues his predecessor's wider distribution of red hats in the Third World.

-- The over-80 cardinals. Popes often have named one or two elderly cardinals as a sign of respect or appreciation. Often, they have been nonbishop theologians. Given the pope's background in dealing with Catholic theologians, there is great interest in his potential choices.

One rumor reported by The Times of London in early January was that the pope's over-80 cardinal nominations might include Msgr. Graham Leonard, a former Anglican bishop of London who was ordained a Catholic priest in 1994. If that happens, beyond the ecumenical implications, the College of Cardinals would have its first married member in several centuries.

Whenever it happens, Pope Benedict's first consistory will also offer clues about how he intends to use the College of Cardinals during his papacy. Pope John Paul turned to the cardinals several times for advice, convening them in Rome for discussions on such topics as church finances, anti-abortion strategies and pastoral goals for the new millennium.

Given that Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, helped plan and preside over some of these "extraordinary consistories," many expect him to keep up this type of consultation.

As he looks ahead, the pope no doubt realizes that putting a personal stamp on the College of Cardinals is a long process. During his 26-year papacy, Pope John Paul called nine consistories to create 231 cardinals; in the end, he had named all but two of the 115 cardinals who elected his successor.