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Pope to elevate new cardinals in February?

December 28, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI will convene a consistory in February and elevate as many as 15 new members to the College of Cardinals, according to a report from the I Media news agency.

The Vatican has not confirmed the report. The Pope usually announces a consistory, and names the new cardinals, roughly one month before the meeting takes place. According to the I Media report, the next consistory will be held on February 18 or 19.

Vatican-watchers have been expecting a consistory sometime in 2012. There are currently 192 cardinals, of whom 109 are below the age of 80 and thus eligible to participate in a papal election. Thus Pope Benedict could name 11 new cardinals without breaching the limit of 120 cardinal-electors.

Two more prelates—Cardinals José Saraiva Martins and Joseph Zen—will turn 80 this month, and 11 other cardinals will celebrate their 80th birthdays in the coming year. Thus it seems nearly certain that the Pope will call a consistory sometime in 2012.

Several archbishops currently occupy leadership posts in the Roman Curia that are ordinarily reserved for cardinals; these prelates would be among the most likely candidates to receive red hats. The Italian daily L’Espresso offered a listing of the prelates most likely to be named cardinals. Although it is entirely speculative, the list does provide background on the prominent candidates.


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