I try to track papabili [potential next pope]. But there are a few who are as interested, if not more, in trying to predict ‘cardinalabili,‘ i.e., who might be next in line to be created a cardinal.
As I have pointed out we should be due for another cardinal-creating consistory within the next 12 months — though I am also the first to agree that the pope does have some other issues to also deal with.
I have a fairly good idea as to who compiled this anonymously published list … but my thoughts are private and my lips are sealed. It is not by an American. I can tell you that much.
The list, as you can see, was published on January 22, 2010.
It has 18 names listed as ‘SECURE’ (securi) — i.e., locked in. That is tight if all are to be cardinal electors.
Yes, right now we have 12 vacancies and 7 more electors will turn 80 by the end of this year. Plus, if any were to die.
Plus, the 120 cardinal elector limit set by Paul VI (#263) in 1973 is arbitrary. It is not tied to anything specific or meant to symbolize anything. The previous limit set on the cardinals, albeit this to the whole College since there was no 80 year cut off in those days, was 70 established by Sixtus V (#228) in 1586. This 70, however, was supposed to reflect the 70 elders that shared Moses’ burdens.
Pope John XXIII (#262), in 1958, at his very first consistory, 48-days into his papacy, calmly (and with no prior edicts) overrode the Sixtus V 70 limit making the new College 74 strong. He continued to increase the size of the College — all the way up to 90.
So Benedict XVI could emulate John XXIII and increase the 120 limit.
So, have a look at this Italian list. That we have the Archbishop of Colombo from my native Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is a ‘kick.’ But, thought most don’t realize (unless, of course, they read my book) is that we have already had a cardinal from Ceylon. Cardinal Thomas Benjamin Cooray who participated in both of the 1978 conclaves.
Let me know what you think. I might even be able to convey your comments to the author of this list.