From La Stampa
The Pope wants to call a Consistory to create new cardinals within quite a short space of time; so short in fact that a week or so ago Curia leaders were secretly considering organising a council for November, straight after the end of the Synod on Faith. [Manila Archbishop Tagle is in Rome at that time...oooooooo!] But a majority rejected the idea, unless there was a serious breach of the law, which states that the Curia should be made up of 120 cardinal electors under the age of 80. At the end of 2012 there will be 114 cardinal electors and the Pope has been left with very little time to fill the remaining vacant posts. In June 2013 cardinal electors will number 108 and by the end of 2013 this figure will drop to 104. [What this article means is that there is no immediate need to name new cardinals in November since there will only be 6 vacant slots for cardinal electors.]
But the Pope’s dilemma is not limited to choosing a date for the next Consistory. If he decides to hold the assembly in February and estimates twelve positions, taking into account those cardinals who will turn 80 by June, the number of individuals who could legitimately expect to be selected would greatly surpass the number of “birettas” available. In this case, important choices would have to be made in terms of Church geopolitics in order to ensure no area of Catholicism is left unrepresented in a potential - and hopefully distant – Conclave. [True! the Italians and Americans are enjoying a majority in the College.]
The Curia considers the election of the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the German, Gerhard Ludwig Müller as cardinal, inevitable. It is very likely that the biretta will also go to the Vatican’s new librarian, the Frenchman Jean Louis Bruguès, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Vincenzo Paglia and Mgr. Rino Fisichella who is in charge of the New Evangelisation. That’s four.
In Italy there are two large dioceses waiting: Venice, with its new patriarch, Francesco Moraglia and Turin with Cesare Nosiglia. There is an unwritten but generally respected rule which states that the archbishop of a diocese that already has a cardinal who is under the age of 80, must wait patiently to receive the biretta. [Yup. That happened in the case of Cardinal Rosales who was passed over the red hat until Cardinal Jaime Sin died. I think this is the same thing that is happening to Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster who replaced Cardinal Cormac Murphy -O'Connor. He still yet has to receive the red biretta.] Cardinal Poletto will turn 80 on 18 March, freeing up his post for Nosiglia.
This rule also prevents a flurry of new and emerging American bishops (Gomez of Los Angeles, Chaput of Philadelphia and Lori of Baltimore) from entering the College of Cardinals. Santiago de Chile’s Salesian archbishop, Riccardo Ezzati, could also have some trouble entering as his predecessor turns 80 in September.
In Asia, the clerics expecting to receive the biretta are: Lebanese Marronite patriarch Bechara Rai and Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch for Syrians and in the Philippines, the Archbishop of Manila, Tagle and Archbishop Kovithavanji of Bangok. New Zealand has no cardinal so the Archbishop of Wellington, John Atcherley Dew has good chances of receiving the biretta. Australia and New Zealand’s only cardinal who is under 80, is George Pell. [Cardinal Rosales and Cardinal Vidal are not eligible to the next conclave but they are still alive so Tagle and Palma would have to wait...BUT...as stated above, the College would not be universally well represented!]
Without taking Ezzati into account, that’s 11. But in London there’s Vincent Nichols (O’Connor left his post last month) and in Toledo, Spain’s Primate, Braulia Rodriguez Plaza, is not a cardinal. Detroit has a cardinal’s seat that is empty given that its archbishop, Vigneron, is not a cardinal. The same goes for Marsiglia and Siviglia. The two Old Catholic Churches of Slovakia and Lithuania have no cardinal electors either.
The situation also appears problematic in Latin America. Guatemala, Nicaragua and Colombia do have no resident cardinals and neither does Canada, since Marc Ouellet moved to Rome. In Africa too there are important seats which remain vacant, for example, the Ivory Coast, Uganda, Mozambique, Cameroon and Angola have no cardinal voters. Benedict XVI has a difficult puzzle to solve.
See how these things the Pope has to also take into consideration! Imagine the politics behind these!
Pray for the Holy Father!