Toward Consistory 2015: the Cardinals-elect

As announced last 11 December by Fr. Federico Lombardi of the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis will convoke a consistory for the creation of Cardinals on 14-15 February of this year. The 14th will see the actual imposition of birettas and granting of the tituli or diaconia, while the 15th will involve a Mass concelebrated with the new Cardinals and a meeting for the whole College of Cardinals to consider further reforms of the Roman Curia. As is customary for consistories held in February, the Pope announced the names of the Cardinals-elect during the Angelus address on the Sunday following the Feast of the Mother of God. Again, as during the 2014 Consistory, this batch is full of surprises with many of the so-called “cardinalatial dioceses” being overlooked again (a trend begun by Benedict XVI in his last years), while bishops from the “global south” gain more representation in the College.

A total of 20 men will be raised to the sacra porpora: 15 electors and 5 non-electors (above the age of 80). Here are the new Cardinals-elect.

1.  Dominique Mamberti, Titular Archbishop of Sagone, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (Roman Curia)
2.  Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon (Portugal)
3.  Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., Archeparch of Addis Abeba (Ethiopia)
4.  John Atcherley Dew, Archbishop of Wellington (New Zealand)
5.  Edoardo Menichelli, Archbishop of Ancona-Osimo (Italy)
6.  Pierre Nguyên Văn Nhon, Archbishop of Hà Nôi (Viêt Nam)
7.  Alberto Suárez Inda, Archbishop of Morelia (Mexico)
8.  Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar)
9.  Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Archbishop of Bangkok (Thailand)
10.  Francesco Montenegro, Archbishop of Agrigento (Italy)
11.  Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., Archbishop of Montevideo (Uruguay)
12.  Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, Archbishop of Valladolid (Spain)
13.  José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán, O.A.R., Archbishop of David (Panamá)
14.  Arlindo Gomes Furtado, Archbishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde (Archipelago of Cape Verde)
15.  Soane Patita Paini Mafi, Bishop of Tonga (Isole di Tonga)

Among the Cardinal-electors is only one curial Cardinal, the Frenchman Dominique Mamberti. Cardinal Burke’s successor at the Signatura is a career diplomat who was recently Secretary for Relations with States, essentially the Holy See’s foreign minister. Although, like all career diplomats, he has a Doctorate in Canon Law, he was never a career jurist like Cardinal Burke was. As the Pope’s top canonist, we have yet to see what effect Mamberti’s relative inexperience in the juridical world will have on the Church, especially in view of the 2015 Synod on marriage and the family. As a head of a dicastery, Mamberti is de jure a participant in the Synod.

Lisbon is the only true cardinalatial see honored today, and one of only three other European sees (Ancona-Osimo, Agrigento, and Valladolid). The other twelve are true novelties. Notable are the nominations of bishops from smaller island countries (New Zealand, Tonga, Cape Verde), as well as the nomination of the Archeparch of Addis Abeba, the only Eastern Rite bishop elevated by Francis thus far (probably “replacing” Antonious Cardinal Naguib, Coptic Patriarch emeritus, who turns 80 this coming March).

In line with Francis’ principle of niente automatismi (roughly, “nothing is automatic”), the Pope has surprised the world not only by appointing so many new Cardinals from the developing world, but also by not elevating those prestigious assignments which traditionally warrant the red hat. Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are still waiting the return of the porpora (though it seems that Galveston-Houston has “usurped” Detroit’s cardinalatial status). In Italy, Turin and Venice are likewise major sees still awaiting a cardinal. One of Asia’s oldest premier dioceses, Cebu, was also left out of this consistory.

In the cases of Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, it seems that Francis still follows the unwritten rule that a diocesan bishop will not be elevated to the Sacred College if his predecessor is still a living Cardinal-elector (the emeriti in question are: Cardinal O’Brien, emeritus of Baltimore, and currently Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher; Cardinal George, emeritus of Chicago; Cardinal Rigali, emeritus of Philadelphia; and Cardinal Mahony, emeritus of LA).

Currently, there are 110 Cardinal-electors. By elevating 15 new electors, Francis is exceeding the statutory “limit” of 120 electors (which is his prerogative, and has been done occasionally by Benedict XVI and John Paul II). This is normally done to anticipate more Cardinals reaching the age of 80 and thus losing voting rights in the coming year. Among these include Mahony (gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro) and Rigali, opening the way for Archbishops Gomez and Chaput to get the red had in a future consistory.

Much is being made of the fact that of the 15 new electors, “only” two are Italian. Italians still comprise a large plurality of the Sacred College, and the addition of two more Italian electors is still a testimony to the strong influence of Italian prelates in the Church. By contrast, the country with the largest Catholic population– Brazil, with over 100 million Catholics– has only four total electors.

Traditional Catholics breathed a collective sigh of relief upon seeing who was not selected, including Archbishop Bruno Forte (Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Synod special secretary, and redactor of the Synod’s controversial paragraphs on homosexuality in the relatio post disceptationem) and Archbishop Piero Marini (President of the Pontifical Council for International Eucharistic Congresses, former Pontifical Master of Ceremonies, and devoted disciple of Annibale Bugnini). This is the second sigh of relief involving Marini, who had been widely rumored to take over the Congregation for Divine Worship after the departure of Cardinal Cañizares-Llovera for Valencia.

The five oltreottantenni are:

1.  José de Jesús Pimiento Rodríguez, Archbishop emeritus of Manizales, Colombia (age 95)
2.  Luigi De Magistris, Titular Archbishop of Nova, Pro-Penitentiary Major emeritus (age 88)
3.  Karl-Joseph Rauber, Titular Archbishop of Iubalitiana, Apostolic Nuncio (age 80)
4.  Luis Héctor Villalba, Archbishop Emeritus of Tucumán, Argentina (age 80)
5.  Júlio Duarte Langa, Archbishop emeritus of Xai-Xai, Mozambique (age 87)

Rodriguez, Villaba, and Langa are the first Cardinals to be named from those respective sees. De Magistris and Rauber are men who represent the best and venerable traditions of the Roman Curia. Their nominations bear the mark of Pope Francis’ style, who strives to put the eyes of the world on the periferie del mondo; as he said in today’s Angelus address:

they have distinguished themselves for their pastoral love in the service of the Holy See and of the Church. They represent many bishops who, with the same pastoral care, have given testimony to the love of Christ and the People of God, whether in the particular Churches, in the Roman Curia, or in the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See.

si sono distinti per la loro carità pastorale nel servizio alla Santa Sede e alla Chiesa. Essi rappresentano tanti Vescovi che, con la stessa sollecitudine di pastori, hanno dato testimonianza di amore a Cristo e al Popolo di Dio sia nelle Chiese particolari, sia nella Curia Romana, sia nel Servizio Diplomatico della Santa Sede. 

Cardinal-elect Rauber is a man of intense experience in the diplomatic corps, having served as Apostolic Nuncio to Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Hungary, Moldova, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Cardinal-elect de Magistris is an old curial veteran, having served as Regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the curial dicastery which adjudicates controversies of the internal forum (i.e., matters of conscience, the seal of the confessional) as well as the dispensation of indulgences– all matters not covered either by the Roman Rota or the Apostolic Signatura. After a 22-year stint as Regent (#2 man in the Penitentiary), John Paul II promoted him to Prefect of the same dicastery in 2003, traditionally a cardinal’s position. Alas, only two years later, he tendered his resignation due to health problems, never receiving the red hat, but his reputation as one of the kindest, most intelligent men in the Curia has remained. His elevation to the Sacred College is a long overdue honor.

Let us pray for all the new Cardinals-elect, so that, as the formula for the imposition of the biretta says, they may defend the Church and her faith usque ad sanguinis effusionem and be eminently deserving of the martyr-red vestments which mark their dignity.

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