January 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 23
Some Surprises Among New Cardinal Nominees as Balance Shifts to Third World
VATICAN, Jan. 22, 01 (CWNews.com) -- By naming 37 new members
to the College of Cardinals, to be elevated to that office at a consistory
in February 21, Pope John Paul II surpassed his previous high total
for new cardinals, and provided a few mild surprises as well.
The February 21 consistory will be the 8th of this pontificate. But in
previous consistories, John Paul never created more than 30 new
cardinals at one time.
Of the 37 prelates on the list announced by the Pope on Sunday, 12
are now working at the Vatican-- in most cases, in high offices that
are routinely held by cardinals. However, three of those Vatican
officials would not ordinarily qualify as "obvious" candidates for the
red hat. They are:
Bishop Walter Kasper, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for
Christian Unity. A Pontifical Council is often (but by no means
always) headed by a cardinal; but it is unprecedented that the
second-ranking official would also wear a red hat. Still, the German
bishop, who formerly headed the Rottenburg diocese, is widely
expected to become president of the Council when Cardinal Edward
Cassidy retires. (Cardinal Cassidy is 77 years old, and has already
submitted his resignation as required at the age of 75.) And Bishop
Kasper was a prominent theologian before becoming a bishop.
Archbishop Jorge Maria Mejia, the Vatican archivist and librarian.
A polyglot scholar from Argentina, Archbishop Mejia has played an
important role in inter-religious affairs. He helped organize the
Pope's visit to Rome's synagogue in April 1986, and the inter-
religious day of prayer at Assisi in October of that year. He has also
assisted in the drafting of the Pope's social encyclicals, Sollicitudo Rei
Socialis and Centesimus Annus.
Father Robert Tucci, SJ, has been the "advance man" for papal trips
for several years, negotiating and preparing the often sensitive
details of the Pope's itinerary. Since Pope John XXIII established the
policy that all cardinals should be bishops, Father Tucci-- like Msgr.
Scheffczyk and Father Dulles (see below)-- will be consecrated a
bishop prior to the consistory.
Among the other new cardinals, 23 are now archbishops or retired
archbishops of major sees. Again, a few of the names deserve special
Patriarch Ignace Moussa I Daoud is the prefect of the Congregation
for the Eastern Churches. That title would ordinarily entail a place in
the College of Cardinals. But the Syrian prelate was already the
Patriarch of Antioch and head of the Syrian Catholic Church-- a
position which outranks that of cardinal. Although he resigned his
patriarchate in order to take up his new duties at the Vatican, Pope
John Paul announced that he would retain the title of Patriarch.
Patriarch Stephanos Ghattos of Alexandria is the current head of
the Coptic Catholic Church-- again, a title that takes precedence over
that of cardinal. He will become one of three patriarchs in the College
of Cardinals, joining Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, the Maronite Patriarch
of Antioch, and Patriarch Daoud.
Archbishop Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamalay, India, is
the ranking prelate of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. Although he
does not rank as a Patriarch, he does head a "major archdiocese"-- a
see designated as first among the dioceses of the Syro-Malabar rite.
Msgr. Leo Scheffczyk, a German priest of the Munich archdiocese, is
being honored for his contributions to the work of the Church, most
recently through his work with the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Father Avery Dulles, SJ is recognized as the dean of American
theologians, and a voice for concord during sometimes contentious
The consistory of February
21 will change the composition of the College of Cardinals, giving
greater weight to the Third World and especially Latin America.
The College of Cardinals will (barring the death of a current or
prospective cardinal) have 178 members after the consistory. Of
these, 128 will be under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a
papal conclave. Pope John Paul II has named 118 of those cardinal-
electors-- 92 percent of the total.
The cardinal-electors represent 57 different countries. Europe
remains the most heavily represented continent, with 60 cardinals
(Italy has 24 cardinals; France, Germany, and Poland have 5 apiece).
The February consistory will add 10 new cardinals from Latin
America, bringing the total for that continent up to 26. (Brazil, with
7, and Mexico and Colombia with 3, head the list.) There will be 13
cardinals from North America, 13 from Asia, 12 from Africa, and 4
For other news stories, see
January 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 23
News from Rome
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