Pope to name new cardinals early next year

Cardinals to be named in time for February 22nd consistory

Pope Francis leads the general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

Pope Francis leads the general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

Fri, Nov 1, 2013, 01:01

The Holy See confirmed yesterday that Pope Francis will be naming new cardinals early in the New Year, in time for a February 22nd consistory.

As the Francis style of government begins to kick in, the consistory will come at a busy moment when the so-called “G8” Council of Cardinals, the Council of the Synod and the Council of Cardinals for Economic Problems will also be meeting in Rome.

Given that by February, the number of “Cardinal Electors” (those under 80 years of age) will have dropped from the normal ceiling of 120 to 106, Francis can clearly be expected to appoint at least 14 new Cardinals, if not more, at his first consistory.

Previously, the announcement of a consistory and the naming of the new Cardinals occurred on the same day. Pope Francis is believed to have opted to call the consistory now, but name the new Cardinals later (probably mid-January), to give people time to organize their schedules for a busy February in Rome.

While Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi declined to speculate on the names of the new appointees, Vatican insiders point to some obvious nominations. The Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Orani Joao Tempesta; the Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, Riccardo Andrello; and the pope’s own successor in Buenos Aires, Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli, are just three possible Latin American nominations.

In the Anglophonic world, men such as the Archbishop of Baltimore, William Lori; the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput; and the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, are also possible candidates for the “red hat”.

Furthermore, there would be consternation if the newly appointed Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, and the Prefect For the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, German Archbishop Gerhard Muller are not named cardinals. With Pope Francis, however, consternation and surprises seem to lie in wait. The Holy See’s announcement regarding new cardinals comes in a week when the senior spokesman downplayed a report in Italian weekly “Panorama” that the Vatican had come under illicit NSA surveillance. Asked about the possible US bugging of the Vatican, Fr Lombardi said: “We know nothing about this and, in any case, we have no worries about it whatsoever”.