VATICAN, Jan. 29, 01 (CWNews.com) -- Although Pope John Paul II did not
explain his decision to delay announcing the names of 7 cardinals until
January 28-- a week later than the 37 others who will become cardinals at
the consistory on February 21-- Vatican analysts have suggested several
possible reasons for that delay.
The naming of Archbishop Lubomyr Husar, the Ukrainian-rite Archbishop of
Lviv, might have been delayed until the Vatican received formal notification
that Archbishop Husar had been elected to that post by the synod of the
Ukrainian Catholic Church. And by the same token, the Holy Father may have
delayed the public identification of Lviv's Cardinal Marian Jaworski-- who
was elevated to cardinalatial rank "in pectore" at the consistory of 1998-- so
that the Latin-rite archbishop would make his public entrance into the
College of Cardinals along with his Ukrainian-rite counterpart.
The most surprising nomination in the new group, that of Bishop Karl
Lehmann of Mainz, Germany, could have been delayed because the Vatican
was still engaged in tense discussions with the German bishops' conference
(of which Bishop Lehmann is president) on the issue of abortion counseling.
Those discussions came to a head last week when Bishop Franz Kamphaus of
Limbourg, who has resisted Rome's pressure on the issue, released a joint
statement with the Vatican affirming the principle that the Church should be
unequivocal in its opposition to abortion. The surprise caused by the
nomination of Bishop Lehmann is also balanced to some extent by the
nomination of Archbishop Johannes Joachim Degenhardt of Paderborn, who
has consistently sided with the Vatican during this long dispute.
Bishop Lehmann reacted to the news by
saying, "John Paul II has recognized by work by this nomination."
The president of the German bishops' conference said that the Pope's
decision to elevate him to the College of Cardinals should be seen as a
"response" to the "nasty insinuations of previous years." Bishop Lehmann
told a Vatican Radio audience that reports of a split between the German
bishops and the Vatican on the subject of abortion counseling were
As the head of the German episcopal conference, Bishop Lehmann has been
the focus of discussions over whether the bishops should continue to
subsidize counseling centers in which women can receive a certificate that
enables them to obtain a legal abortion. The German bishops continued to
support those centers for months in spite of the Pope's directive that the
Church should not be involved in providing such certificates. After months of
wrangling, the Church-sponsored agencies have ceased to provide certificates
in all but one German diocese. The head of that diocese, Bishop Franz
Kamphaus of Limbourg, issued a statement last week accepting in principle
the Vatican's contention that the Church must be unequivocal in condemning
Bishop Lehmann was also a lightning-rod for controversy when the German
episcopal conference caused disquiet in Rome with suggestions that Catholics
who are divorced and remarried should be able to receive Holy Communion.
Finally, the Mainz bishop caused a flurry of media interest when he
suggested that Pope John Paul II could resign because of declining health.
Bishop Lehmann later said his remarks were taken out of context.
Speaking to the Vatican Radio audience on January 29, the German bishop
said that his nomination to the College of Cardinals was a "very clear sign" of
the Pope's confidence in him. "I consider it an encouragement to continue the
work I have been doing," he said.
The delay in revealing the identity of Cardinal Janis Pujats-- who was also
elevated "in pectore" in 1998-- is perhaps tied to the fact that at the time of
the 1998 conclave the Vatican was engaged in negotiations with the Latvian
government toward the signing of a new concordat to govern Church-state
relations. It is quite conceivable that the Pontiff did not wish to upset those
negotiations at a delicate point by naming the Archbishop of Riga to the
College of Cardinals.
However, there have been no theories advanced to explain the Pope's delay
in advancing the names of Archbishops Julio Terrazas Sandoval of Santa
Cruz, Bolivia; and Wilfrid Fox Napier of Durban, South Africa. Vatican-
watchers have fallen back on the assumption that Pope John Paul simply had
second thoughts after naming 37 other prelates last Sunday.
Pope John Paul did not explain why these nominations came a week later
than the 37 others he had previously announced.
All of the new nominees are under the age of 80, and thus eligible to vote in
a papal election. The number of cardinal-electors, after the February 21
consistory, will reach the unprecedented figure of 135. The maximum
number of electors had been set at 120, but the Pope has the authority to
exceed that number at his discretion.
Except insofar as deaths cut into the membership of the College of Cardinals,
the number of cardinal-electors will not drop below 120 until January 2003.
Thus there will be no need for another consistory before that time.
Of the 135 electors, 125 have been named to the College of Cardinals by Pope
John Paul II; the remaining 10 by Pope Paul VI.