Another Elderly Cardinal Dies. College of Cardinals as of May 4, 2010 is at 179 = 108 Electors & 71 Non-Electors

by: Anura Guruge

Cardinal Luigi Poggi who died May 4, 2010 at 92
Cardinal Luigi Poggi who died May 4, 2010 at 92

On May 4, 2010, just 4 days after the death of the 98 year old German Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer, the 92 year old Italian Cardinal Luigi Poggi [b. Nov. 25, 1917] passed away. Like Mayer, Poggi was also a long-time Vatican official, acting as a temporary nuncio (papal envoy) way back in 1966. Between 1992 and 1994 he was the temporary archivist and librarian for the Holy Roman Church. John Paul II created him a cardinal deacon in November 1994, one day after he turned seventy-seven (77). Given that he was not a diocesan prelate nor a high-ranking curialist at the time of his creation, being a cardinal deacon was the applicable title. Three years after becoming a cardinal he lost his right to be an elector when he turned 80. Thus, as with Mayer, he never got to participate in a conclave though he was a cardinal for 15 years. In February 2002 he became the protodeacon, i.e., the senior most cardinal deacon. Three years later, once he had completed 10 years as a cardinal deacon, he, like Mayer, exercised his jus optionis right of being elevated to being a cardinal priest. In hindsight, he may have wished that he had postponed this promotion! Two months later there was a new pope. If he had continued as a cardinal deacon, he, as the protodeacon, would have had the honor of announcing Cardinal Ratzinger as the new pope. But since he was now a cardinal priest, he did not get to to participate in the conclave nor make the announcement from the balcony of St. Peter’s. Thus are the travails of being a  cardinal since Paul VI’s (#263) 1971 cut-off restricting cardinals over the age of 80 participating in conclaves.

We have had three cardinals die within 18 days starting as of April 16, 210. Prior to that, the last cardinal to pass away was on the last day of 2009, Irish cardinal Brendan Daly, 92, on December 31.

The College, as of May 4, 2010, is now at 179, with 108 under the age of 80 (and thus eligible to vote at a conclave) and 71 over the age of 80. [The electors represent 60% of cardinals.]

We lost three electors during the month of March 2010, and four since the beginning of 2010. We have lost a total of 3 cardinals since the beginning of 2010.

This is the smallest the College has been in awhile. The last time we were at these levels was in February 2001 when the college was down to 178 cardinals, albeit with 128 electors.

After the last consistory on November 24, 2007, there were 201 cardinals, with 120 eligible to vote . I had thought that we were due for another consistory last year. That did not happen.  This is not a problem. There is nothing wrong with having but 108 electors. Only 111 electors participated in both of the 1978 conclaves. I doubt whether we will see a cardinal-creating consistory in the next six months. The pope has his hands full with the latest rounds of the clergy sex abuse scandal. To create cardinals at this juncture will be seen as irresponsible. Plus, though I doubt whether the Vatican has the gumption to do it, the vetting process for future cardinals probably has to be made more vigorous. It would be very embarrassing for the pope if he creates a cardinal who is in the midst of being implicated in the current scandal. Read this posting on the when the next cardinal creating consistory is likely to happen.

Summary of Changes in the Last 6 Months

May 4, 2010: Italian Cardinal Luigi Poggi , at one time the archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, died at the age of 92. ** The College now = 179 **

April 30, 2010: German Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer, a Benedictine, died at the age of 98, twenty three days prior to turning 99. ** The College then = 180 **

April 16, 2010: Czechoslovakian Cardinal Tomáš Špidlík, a Jesuit, died at the age of 90. ** The College then = 181 **

March 31, 2010: Spanish Cardinal Julián Herranz Casado, Opus Dei, on turning 80 ceased to be an elector. We then had 108 electors. Julián Herranz Casado (b. March 31, 1930) of Spain, the retired President of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of the Legislative Texts and President of the Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia turned 80 and thus ceased to be an elector.  Spain has 10 cardinals, but only half of them are now eligible to vote. That still gives them a slight edge in terms of real representation. With 5 out of the 108 electors, Spain would a 4.6% representation if there were to be a conclave anytime soon. However, in terms of the world population of Catholics, Spain only has about 3.9%. So they can’t really complain, even though they probably will. Brazil with 3 times more Catholics has one less elector. Mexico with nearly twice more also only has 4 electors. The electors within the College does not reflect the population distribution of the Catholics. The U.S. and Europe gets preferential representation. This needs to be fixed at some point. <<q.v. Pages 7 to 11 of ‘The Next Pope‘ book (for free, of course) at Google Books.>> ** College then = 182 **

March 20, 2010: NZ Cardinal Thomas Stafford on turning 80 ceased to be an elector. We then had 109 electors. NZ no longer has a vote if there was to be a conclave. ‘Oceania,’ [i.e., the Pacific basin] now only has one elector, viz. Australian Cardinal George Pell (b. 1941) who was created a cardinal in 2005. It is just like the ‘old days.’ The October 1958 conclave that elected John XXIII (#262) was the first conclave attended by a cardinal from Oceania, Australia’s Norman Thomas Gilroy. <<q.v. Pages 116 & 261 of ‘The Next Pope’ (for free, of course) at Google Books.>> ** College then = 182 **

March 18, 2010: US Cardinal Adam Joseph Maida on turning 80 ceased to be an elector. We then had 110 electors. ** College then = 182 **

February 13, 2010: Cardinal Miloslav Vlk retired from being an Archbishop — but is still a bona fide elector. His resignation is per Code of Canon Law 401 § 1 requiring that diocesan bishops tender their resignation to the pope when they have completed their 75th year. ** College then = 182 **

January 27, 2010: Cardinal Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic on turning 80 became a non-elector. Canada has a total of 3 cardinals, two of whom are still electors; one of them, Cardinal Marc Ouellet a credible papabile. ** College then = 182 **

January 18, 2010: 76 year old Belgium Cardinal Godfried Danneels retired from being the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels. This did not alter the elector/non-elector numbers or the size of the College. Just changes the statistics as to the ‘occupations’ of the cardinals. ** College then = 182 **

January 10, 2010: Cardinal Armand Gaétan Razafindratandra, of Madagascar, Archbishop Emeritus of Antananarivo, died unexpectedly having had a fall while taking a walk. He had turned 84 last August.
** College then = 182 **

December 31, 2009: Cardinal Cahal Brendan Daly, of Ireland, Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh, died late in the day on Decmeber 31, 2009. He had turned 92 in October. ** College then = 183 **

December 30, 2009: Japanese Cardinal Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi, who had turned 81 this past June, died unexpectedly, in Tokyo. ** College then = 184 **

December 18, 2009: Cardinal Józef Glemp of Poland, created a cardinal by his compatriot in 1983, turned 80. He thus ceased to be an elector. That reduced the number of electors. ** College then = 185 **

November 17, 2009: Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi of Cameroon, at 79, retired as the Archbishop of Douala. ** College then = 185 **

October 24, 2009: Italian Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, well over the 75 year retirement age, resigned from being the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. ** College then = 185 **

July 17, 2009: Cardinal Jean Margéot (Mauritius), a cardinal priest since 1988, died at the age of 93. ** College then = 185 **

I as is my wont, I checked yet again, today [i.e., May 4, 2010], on the Vatican list of cardinals. It has not been updated since February 20, 2010! So it is at 182 cardinals, 111 electors. That is NOW WRONG yet again, but, for a refreshing change, not by much! With the Vatican, these days, you have got to be thankful for all such changes, however, minor. To be fair, as far as I have seen, the Vatican has never claimed to be competent, not even when the Inquisition was running rampant.

The Rationale for these Demographics

Following my “Next Pope — Papabili List for 2009,” I had some questions as to the amount of sway the curial cardinals would have at the next conclave. So I did some analysis on the composition of the current College beyond just age and nationalities. This is an ongoing effort to keep the data that I found up to-date. I also used these stats when writing my ‘The Next Pope – After Pope Benedict XVIbook.

Of the 179 total cardinals:

  • 6 are Cardinal Bishops, 3 are Oriental Rites Patriarchs, 143 are Cardinal Priests & 27 Cardinal Deacons
  • Average age is 78 years
  • 32 belong to religious orders, with 2 more belonging to Opus Dei which is a Personal Prelature
  • The macro geographic breakdown is as follows:
    Africa 13, Americas 48 (U.S.A. 16), Asia 18, Europe 96 (Italy 38), Oceania 4
    Africa 12 countries, Americas 16, Asia 11, Europe 23, Oceania 2 — 64 countries in total
    Italy 38, U.S.A 16, Spain 10, France 9, Poland 8, Germany 6, Brazil 8, India 6, Argentina 4, Mexico 4, Canada 3, Ireland 2, Philippines 3 & Switzerland 3

Of the 108 cardinals, under the age of 80 [i.e., ‘electors’]:

  • 4 are Cardinal Bishops, 1 is an Oriental Rites Patriarch, 87 are Cardinal Priests & 16 are Cardinal Deacons
  • 19 hold curial offices. Of these 2 are cardinal bishops (viz. Bertone & Re), 5 are cardinal priests and the others cardinal deacons
    (Italy – 7, Rest of Europe – 7, U.S.A. – 1, Latin America – 2 , India – 1 & Africa – 1)
  • 61 are Archbishops including two Patriarchs – i.e., Venice and Lisbon (Portugal) << Please refer to June 19, 2010 posting >>
  • 1 is Bishop — Mainz (Germany)
  • 1 is the Vicar General of Rome, viz. Cardinal Agostino Vallini (papabile)
  • 1 is the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of Jerusalem, viz. Cardinal John Patrick Foley
  • 24 are ‘retired,’ i.e., emeritus status
  • 1, viz. Cardinal Bernard Francis Law (formally of Boston, USA), is an Archpriest
  • Average age is 72 years; 12 in their 79th year, youngest being Peter Erdö (Hungary) at 56
  • 19 belong to religious orders, 4 of whom are Salesians, 3 Franciscans, 2 Jesuits along with an additional 1 belonging to Opus Dei
  • 78 (72.2%) of these cardinals were created by Pope John Paul II between 1983 and 2003
  • 30 were created by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 & 2007
  • The macro geographic breakdown is as follows:
    Africa 9, Americas 33 (U.S.A. 12), Asia 10, Europe 55 (Italy 19), Oceania 1
    Africa 8 countries, Americas 14, Asia 7, Europe 21, Oceania 1 — 51 countries in total
    Italy 19, U.S.A 12, France 6, Spain 5, Germany 5, Brazil 4, Mexico 4, Poland 3, India 3 & Canada 2

Of the 71 cardinals, over the age of 80:

  • 2 are Cardinal Bishops, 2 are Oriental Rites Patriarch (Babylon of the Chaldeans & Antioch for Maronites), 56 are Cardinal Priests & 11 are Cardinal Deacons
  • 1 is an Archbishops – Cardinal Vithayathil, Syro-Malabra (India)
  • 64 are ‘retired,’ i.e., emeritus status
  • 1 is a nuncio, Cardinal Coppa (Italy)
  • 2 are Oriental Rites Patriarchs
  • 3, Cardinal Deacons and distinguished academics all, fall into a ‘continuing prior career’ category in that they were created cardinals after they had turned 80 and were thus too old to hold curial offices.
  • Average age is 85 years; oldest Cardinal Tonini (Italy) at 95 with seven in their 80th year.
  • 12 belong to religious orders with 6 of them Jesuits & 3 Franciscans plus 1 belonging to Opus Dei.
  • 4 of these cardinals were created by Pope Paul VI between 1969 and 1976
  • 61 (86%) by Pope John Paul II between 1979 and 2003
  • 6 by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 & 2007
  • The macro geographic breakdown is as follows:
    Africa 4, Americas 15 (U.S.A. 4), Asia 8, Europe 41 (Italy 19), Oceania 3
    Africa 4 countries, Americas 8, Asia 6, Europe 12, Oceania 2 — 31 countries in total
    Italy 19, Poland 5, Spain 5, Brazil 4, U.S.A 4, France 3, India 3

Hope this helps. All the best.



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