At Catholic Culture, Phil Lawler has
an informative piece on this week’s announcement that the Pope will
create six new cardinals at a consistory next month. That this is a “surprise”
moveand the first time two sets of cardinals have been named in the same yearhas
been noted all over, but Lawler’s piece breaks down exactly what makes the Holy
Father’s decision so unexpected and evengasp! mysterious:
The Pope could have named other cardinals who were
over the age of 80, and thus not eligible as electors, but he chose to keep the
number of new cardinals unusually small, selecting only a half-dozen. The last
time a Pontiff named such a small class of new cardinals was in June 1977, when
Pope Paul VI raised only four men to the College. …
In 1977 Pope Paul’s
health was failing, and the June consistory was to be his last one. Some
Vatican-watchers have questioned whether Pope Benedict is sensing that his own
time is limited, and has called the consistory quickly to be sure that he
leaves no important business undone. But none of the Pope’s six selections seem
to represent urgent appointments. And more important there is no known reason,
aside from his advancing age (he is now 85), to believe that Pope Benedict is
nearing the end of his reign. So the Pope’s reasons for his sudden announcement
and quick consistory remain mysterious.
Lawler also sees a possible connection to this week’s other big
headline out of the Vatican the sentencing of the Pope’s former butler Paolo
Gabriele in the “Vatileaks” scandal. One of the cardinals-elect, Archbishop James
Michael Harveythe only American in the new class of cardinalshas been head of
the papal household for many years:
As he announced that Archbishop Harvey would become a
cardinal, Pope Benedict also revealed that he would name the American prelate
as archpriest of the Roman basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls. This too is
an unusual appointment, since the status of archpriest is usually conferred on
a prelate close to retirement age. … The news that Archbishop Harvey will enter
the College of Cardinals comes just a day after a Vatican tribunal released its formal verdict in the case of Paolo
Gabriele. Is it possible to ignore the fact that Gabriele was a
member of the pontifical household, under Archbishop Harvey’s supervision?
Read the full piece here.
Meanwhile, Marco Tosatti at
Vatican Insider doesn’t think the announcement of the consistoryor the
selection of cardinalsis
very surprising at all.
UPDATE (10/28/12): Yesterday, on the final working day for the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, Pope Benedict addressed all those present, and mentioned briefly his reasons for adding new members to the College of Cardinals:
I would also like to express my cordial greetings to the new Cardinals. With this little Consistory I wanted to complete the Consistory of February, in the context of the new evangelization, with a gesture of the universality of the Church, showing that the Church is the Church of all peoples, she speaks in all languages, she is always a Church of Pentecost; not the Church of one continent, but a universal Church. This was precisely my intention, to express this in this context, this universality of the Church, which is also the beautiful expression of this Synod. For me it was really uplifting, comforting and encouraging to see here a reflection of the universal Church with its suffering, threats, dangers and joys, experiences of the Lord's presence, even in difficult situations.