Tag Archives: Cardinals

College of Cardinals — Representation/Size of Constituency (July 20, 2009)

< Updated on February 8, 2010 .>

When compiling my breakdown of the College of Cardinals I realized that only Italy (with 19) had more electors in the College than the U.S.A. (with 13). I knew that some of the Latin American countries certainly had more Catholics than the U.S. So I did some checking and analysis.

Per the 2008 Annuario Pontificio (Vatican’s ‘Pontifical Handbook’) there are ~1.1 billion Catholics around the World.

Then, I found a convenient breakdown of the number of Catholics per country, albeit as 0f 2005, on Wikipedia (and for this study, this was good enough).

Then, per my wont, I went ahead and set up an Excel spreadsheet so I could do some analysis.

Let us start with Brazil, the country with the largest Catholic population (~137 million). Brazil thus has 12.8% of the World’s Catholics. But Brazil only has 8 cardinals in total in the current College, with 4 under the age of 80 (and thus eligible to vote at a conclave) and 4 that are over 80.

Per my updated posts of July 20, 2009 on the breakdown of the College, we currently have a total of 185 cardinals, 113 under the age of 80. This means that Brazil despite its 12.8% of the worldwide constituents only has a total of 4.3% representation in the College — and only 3.5% of the electors.

Mexico, the country with the 2nd largest Catholic population, is also underrepresented by cardinals. Though Mexico has 7.8% of the world’s Catholics, they also only have 4 electors (i.e., 3.5%).

U.S.A., with ~71 million, has the fourth largest Catholic population, representing 6.6% of the world total. But there are 16 U.S. cardinals, i.e., 8.5%.

So here is a breakdown of the top 9 Catholic countries:

While I still had the spreadsheet up on one of my monitors, I decided I might as well go the extra step and do a few more calculations, especially because I knew the results will surprise a few of you.

Based on the 2005 Catholic population estimates, the breakdown of the Catholics per key ‘regions’ is as follows, with the percentage of cardinal electors for that region shown within (parenthesis):

  • Europe
    (inc. Ukraine, Lituania, the Balkans etc.) – 26% (50%)
  • Latin America – 41% (17%)
  • U.S.A & Canada – 8% (14%)
  • Africa – 12% (8%)
  • Asia – 11% (9%)
  • Oceania – 0.7% (2%)

Church prelates are aware of this ‘population’ breakdown, and have been now for quite awhile. Hence, my pick of Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, a high-profile, 60 year old from Brazil, as my top 2009 pick for papabili.

Hope this helps.

Thank you for your time.

Anura Guruge

Next Pope — Papabili List for 2009

You can find my top 10 papabili (pl. papabile) list for 2009 at: popes-and-papacy.

Since my book, I get quite a few queries as to who I think the next pope will be, after Pope Benedict XVI, and the new name they are likely to assume. In the past, per this BLOG entry, I have been sending people over to Paddy Power and the online betting ‘book’ they maintain.

This weekend, within the context of the new book I am writing, I spent a lot of time researching the potential papabili. During the course of this, ever mindful of the dangers of speculating on papal succession, I realized that I had no option but to come up with a new list. So I did.

I made a few key assumptions when selecting my set of cardinals and ranking them. These were:

  • The next pope, for essentially secular political reasons, is unlikely to be from the U.S.A.
  • The next pope is unlikely to be from Germany given that Pope Benedict XVI is German.
  • The next pope, when elected, is unlikely to be over 75 years in age.

So have a look at the list. Feel free to use either of the BLOGs as a forum for your comments and feedback. I am all ears.

Many thanks for your time. Merry Christmas and may 2009 shower you with all that is wonderful in life.

Anura Guruge

Another ‘Heads Up’ on Lists of Cardinals

This is a necessary follow-up to my July 22 post on the need to be vigilant when looking at ‘College of Cardinals’ lists since these lists, even the Vatican’s ‘master’ list, may not be up to date.

The Italian Cardinal Antonio Innocenti, born on August 23, 1915, passed away on September 6, 2008. He was 93 years old.

I had a quick look at the Vatican lists late last night. I thought they did not reflect Cardinal Innocenti’s death. But, I wanted to make sure.

I just checked again. Wow. Nineteen days later and the Vatican still has not got around to updating their lists!

The master ‘College of Cardinals’ list has NOT been updated since ‘14.05.2008’ [i.e. May 14, 2008, the day after Cardinal Bernardin Gantin’s death]. I also checked the Vatican’s list of deceased Cardinals (as of Feb. 8, 2001). Cardinal Innocenti is not on that list. I find this somewhat incongruous. You would think that the Vatican had the resources, and the motivation, to keep these lists up to date. There is even the issue of due respect.

Anyway …

As of today, Sept. 25, 2008, we have a total of 193 cardinals with 116 under the age of 80 (and thus eligible to vote).

Cardinal Innocenti became a cardinal in May 1985, when he was 69 years of age. He lost his right to vote in a conclave 11 years later in August 1995. Consequently, he never got a chance to vote in a conclave, given that Pope John Paul II’s papacy of 26 years and 168 days, the 2nd longest to date, lasted from Oct. 1978 to April 2005.

Thank You.

Anura Guruge

Cardinals — A Marvelous, Monumental Reference

During a recent Web search I serendipitously stumbled upon The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church” by Salvador Miranda.

This is a stupendous resource for anybody seeking information about the Catholic cardinals. In marked contrast to most other sites dealing with the cardinals, this site is not restricted to the current set of cardinals making up the College. Instead, Mr. Miranda goes back in history all the way to 112! So there is a general list of the known cardinals from 112 to to the present. That alone is an invaluable resource for those interested in papal history. I, for one, will reference that list many, many times over the coming months.

But it gets even better. Mr. Miranda has managed to provide biographical entries for all the cardinals from 1159 to the present. Wow. That is a labor of love and a great academic contribution not to mention achievement. Thank YOU, Mr. Miranda.

But that is not all. There are even picture galleries going back to 1846. While most of us are familiar with the images of the prior popes, we can’t say the same about the images of the cardinals that were responsible for electing those popes. Thanks to Mr. Miranda’s efforts we now have a chance to put a face to a name. Now with a few clicks I can get to see a picture (and also read the bio) of Cardinal William Henry O’Connell, of Boston, who missed both the 1914 and 1922 conclaves due to travel delays in trying to get to Rome. [Though he flew from Boston to New York in 1922, flying across the Atlantic was not a practical option. Charles Lindberg’s solo flight, for reference, was in June 1927.]

So please bookmark this site and visit it often. You will not be disappointed.

Thank You.

Anura Guruge

When Exactly Does a Cardinal Turn 80?

The crux here being that a cardinal loses his right to vote in a papal election once they have turned 80.

In terms of eligibility the cardinals lost 15 to 20 days of eligibility in 1996, though interestingly I have yet to come across any references to cardinals taking public umbrage to this latest restriction.

Recently I read the last two Apostolic constitutions that pertain to papal elections, viz. Pope Paul VI‘s Romano Pontifici Eligendo of October 1, 1975 and John Paul II‘s update to this which was Universi Dominici Gregis of February 22, 1996.

In Paul VI’s 1975 constitution, ‘section’ 33 states: “… exclusive of those who, …., at the moment of entry into the conclave, have already completed their eightieth year. …”

John Paul II’s 1996 constitution, again in ‘section’ 33 states: “…. with the exception of those who have reached their eightieth birthday before the day of the Roman Pontiff’s death or the day when the Apostolic See becomes vacant. …”

Since John Paul II also specified that the electoral conclave should ideally start on the 15th day after the sede vacante and no later than 20 days after, the latest rules are more exclusive than those promulgated by Paul VI.

But what I found curious, even amusing, was the total lack of specificity as to how one determines a cardinals exact age at the time of the sede vacante. For a start there is no mention of whether the sede vacante is marked per Vatican/Rome time, or in the event of a papal death during an official trip abroad per local time. As an hypothetical lets say that the pope passes away at 11:30pm on July 31 in San Francisco. With a 9 hour time difference relative to Rome it would already be August 1 at the Vatican.

So what happens to a cardinal that turns 80 on August 1?

Is he eligible or isn’t he?

In reality this issue is independent of location. Even if the sede vacante happens while the pope was in Rome you can still have date difference depending how far East or West the cardinal in question is located.

But this begs the question as to when ones birthday begins.

I guess I am more attune to the vagaries of when one celebrates one’s birthday than most because I was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) which is 10.5 hours ahead in terms of time to where I currently live on the U.S. East Coast. So my birthday starts in Ceylon, where I was born, 10.5 hours AHEAD of when it starts where I live.

I don’t have to belabor this anymore. You must get the drift.

Think about a cardinal born in New Zealand who is now a long-term resident in Hawaii on official Vatican business. So if this cardinal is now 79 years old, when does he turn 80?

12AM New Zealand time? 12AM Hawaii time or 12AM Rome time?

Obviously this is not a show stopper. If this issue ever comes up it will be handled by either a Particular Congregation or the General Congregation of the College of Cardinals, meeting during the sede vacante per the constitutions. So it won’t be a big deal.

What is interesting is the lack of specificity on this issue. I had read that Paul VI was a stickler for detail and when it came to Romano Pontifici Eligendo left nothing to chance. Well it would appear that he did. But that is OK. It gave me something to kick around.

Thank you.

Anura Guruge


Master List of the ‘College of Cardinals’

This is just a heads-up in case any of you plan to look at (or have recently looked at) the composition of the ‘College of Cardinals’ in preparation for the next conclave — whenever that might be.

Just be careful which list you look at — and check when it was last updated.

The composition of the College is somewhat dynamic. So far this year five (5) cardinals have passed away, viz. Peter Poreku Dery (March 6), Adolfo Antonio Suarez Rivera (March 22), Ernesto Corripio Ahumada (April 10), Alfonso Lopez Trujillo (April 21), and Bernardin Gantin (May13).

As of today, July 22, 2008, having counted them in multiple ways using an Excel spreadsheet just to make sure, there are a total of 194 cardinals with 116 under the age of 80 (and thus eligible to vote).

The Vatican list(s) pertaining to the College appears to have been last updated on May 14 — the day after Bernardin Gantin death. Please see the screen shot I took today.

Problem here is that time moves on — inexorably.

In June two cardinals, viz. Biffi and Shirayanagi, reached their 80th birthday. So they can no longer vote at the next conclave.

But this is not reflected in the “May 14” list. Thus the Vatican says that there are 118 eligible electors at present.

Ooops! Wrong!

Interestingly the Wikipedia entry for the ‘College of Cardinals’ has it right.

That is good. As I state in my book on Papal Names, I am a great fan of Wikipedia. I believe that Wikipedia is rapidly becoming the primary, ‘first-look’ reference used by those that spend a lot of time in front of a computer.

But to be fair, I always hand-check Wikipedia lists before I start to use them.

I hand-checked the Wikipedia ‘College of Cardinals’ list today.

If you do a Google on ‘College of Cardinals,’ the Vatican and Wikipedia come after that of a Catholic Web site. They do have a nice list. That is the list I started with. But that appears NOT to have been updated this year! The five cardinals that died in 2008 are still on that list. That list says ‘199’ total, ‘117’ electors. Wrong!

So be aware if you start looking at these lists.

I will do my best, but with no promises, to make a post HERE whenever the composition of the College changes. We may be due for another Consistory. I will do my best to keep you posted.


Anura Guruge