by Anura Guruge
On Tuesday, March 5, 2013, the 5th full day of the 2013 sede vacante, the ex-curial German Cardinal Priest ‘W.K’ turned 80. But, he remains a cardinal elector since the 80-year cut off for voting in the upcoming conclave, per the norms, was the day PRIOR to the start of the sede vacante. The sede vacante started on February 28, 2013. So the cut-off was February 27. He was under 80 on that day. Those are the rules per Universi Dominici Gregis (UDG). Yes, John Paul II, quite astutely, changed the cut-off day. It used to be the day of the conclave. Per that rule the German cardinal would not have been an elector. But, John Paul II realized that the cardinals had the power to set the start of the conclave to be 15 to 20 full days from the start of the s.v. — it was that 5 day leeway that he was concerned about. The cardinals could have pushed back the start to 16, 17 or 20 days to make sure that one of their peers made the cut. John Paul II, who never climbed down from the cross, did not anticipate that any pope would be fickle enough to resign (though his UDG and Canon Law permits it). So, he kept on thinking that a s.v. would only happen when a pope died. Though we know that the time of death can be manipulated, by and large it is difficult to mess around with a pope’s death for much more than 24 hours. So, per John Paul II’s thinking, the start of a s.v. couldn’t really be manipulated — because he didn’t take into account weak popes that would throw up their hands and say: ‘this is way to hard for poor me. I quit‘. By setting the cut-off to the day before the s.v. he wanted to minimize the possibility of cardinals manipulating the eligibility. Ironically, Benedict XVI, foiled him. It is now very obvious that Benedict timed his resignation fully aware that his fellow German would get to take part in the conclave.
Equally you have to feel sorry for poor ol’ Cardinal Husar who turned 80 on February 26 — the day before the cut-off! That too was planned. He should feel slighted and offended. If Benedict had resigned on his birthday he would still have been eligible because he would have been 79 the day before.
So we will have a 80 year old cardinal elector at this conclave.
That was always a possibility and I had discussed it in detail in my ‘The Next Pope 2011‘ book.
Yes, it is a record.
The first time an over 80 elector has participated in a conclave
since the over-80 limitation which became law in January 1971.
This is the 8th change to the College in 2013.
The College is down to 207 (still quite high), with the electors at 117.
As of March 5, 2013, Electors = 117, Non-Electors = 90.
[The electors represent 57% of cardinals.]
The College as of February 28, 2013 is at 207.
Click to ENLARGE.
Summary of Major Changes in the Last 12 Months
March 5, 2013: German cardinal priest ‘W.K.’ turns 80 but remains an elector.
** College continues at 207, electors continue at 117 **
Feb 28, 2013: 92-Year Old French Cardinal Priest Jean Honoré Dies.
** College down to 207, electors continue at 117 **
Feb 26, 2013: Husar ages out. O’Brien retires.
** College at 208, electors down to 117 **
Feb 23, 2013: 92-Year Old Belgian Cardinal Deacon Julien Ries Dies.
** College down to 208, electors continue at 118 **
Feb 8, 2013: 94-Year Old Italian Cardinal Priest Giovanni Cheli Dies.
** College down to 209, electors continue at 118 **
Jan 26, 2013: Mexican Cardinal Deacon Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán Turns 80.
** College at 210, electors down to 118 **
Jan 23, 2013: 83 Year Old Polish Cardinal Priest Józef Glemp Dies.
** College down to 210, electors continue at 119 **
Jan. 17, 2013: 77 Year Old Egyptian Cardinal Patriarch Antonios Naguib Retires.
** College continues at 211, electors continue at 119 **
◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊ 2012 ◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊
Changes to the College in 2012. Click image for post.
>> 78-year old Italian Francesco Monterisi also became emeritus, with no announcement, in December 2012.
◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊ 2011 ◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊
Changes to the College in 2011. Click image for post.
Refer to this post for changes in 2010 and 2009.