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Why not O'Malley, cont.

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 29, 2003

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As I mentioned below, there's a strong precedent against having two voting cardinals from the same archdiocese.

However-- as an alert reader has pointed out-- the Pope broke that precedent yesterday when he named Archbishop Peter Erdo of Budapest as a future cardinal-- while the retired archbishop of the same archdiocese, Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, OFM, remains 4 years short of his 80th birthday.

So that reason, by itself, doesn't suggest that Archbishop O'Malley couldn't have become a cardinal. It's just one factor in the mix. Here are two more.

  1. Cardinal-designate Justin Rigali has been Archbishop of St. Louis since 1994. In the past the St. Louis archdiocese has been led by a cardinal; in fact Boston's archdiocesan history shows only one more cardinal than St. Louis: 4 to 3. So if only one American was likely to get the red hat, Archbishop Rigali was first in line
  2. If more than one American became a cardinal, then there would have been a dozen Americans eligible to vote in a conclave-- with none of them particularly close to his 80th birthday. (Cardinals Baum and Szoka, the oldest Americans, are 76.) Given the spectacular failure of American Church leaders in recent years, would you want a dozen of them-- roughly 10% of the total electorate-- involved in choosing the next pope?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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