French cardinal becomes protodeacon: would announce election of new Pontiff
February 21, 2011
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has become the proto-deacon of the College of Cardinals. In that post the French-born cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, would make the official announcement to the world when a new Roman Pontiff is elected.
At a public consistory on February 21, Pope Benedict XVI granted the requests of several cardinals who had asked to be raised in rank from cardinal-deacons to cardinal-priests. Among them was Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan, who had been the senior cardinal-deacon. His elevation left Cardinal Tauran as the senior cardinal-deacon.
The College of Cardinals is divided into three orders: cardinal-bishops, cardinal-priests, and cardinal-deacons. By tradition, the senior cardinal-deacon, or protodeacon, makes the announcement from the loggia of St. Peter’s basilica introducing a newly elected Pontiff to the world.
A public consistory is a meeting of the cardinals who are present in Rome. The February 21 consistory was held to approve the canonization of three new saints, to be celebrated in October (see the separate CWN news story).