Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Philippines: set to have no cardinal-elector for the first time since 1960.

The first Filipino Cardinal, Abp. Rufino Cardinal Santos of Manila, (1908 - 1973) shortly after his elevation to the cardinalate on March 28, 1960. From a private archive.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI announced the names of 22 clergymen whom he will raise to the cardinalate on February 18, 2012. Eighteen of them are below the age of 80, qualifying to become "cardinal electors". (Under the rules set in place in 1970 by Paul VI and slightly revised by Bl. John Paul II in 1996, cardinals who have finished their 80th birthday on the day before a Pope's death can no longer take part in the conclave that will elect his successor. Those cardinals who have not yet finished their 80th birthday are, therefore, commonly called "cardinal electors".) Unless one or more of the cardinal-electors and new cardinal-electors-elect were to pass away before February 18, there will be 125 cardinal electors by the end of that day. Should no cardinal elector not scheduled to turn 80 years old until 2013 die this year, there will be 114 cardinal electors by Dec. 31, 2012. (Eleven cardinals are going to turn 80 between February 18 and the last day of this year, including the sole remaining Filipino cardinal elector, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop Emeritus of Manila.) Another 10 cardinals are going to turn 80 in 2013, making another consistory in that year all but certain. 

Some Filipinos had speculated that either Abp. Jose Palma of Cebu or Abp. Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila would be made a cardinal this year. However, of the 22 new cardinals to be elevated on February 18 only two are from Asia, namely, Major-Archbishop George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly (head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India), and Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong. Perhaps there will be a Filipino cardinal in the next consistory, but it is highly unlikely that one will be called before 2013. 

So, where will all of this leave the Philippines in "red hat" terms? Come August 11, 2012 (the day after Cardinal Rosales' 80th birthday), the Philippines will find itself in the unenviable position of being one of only two among the 20 countries of the world with the largest Catholic populations, and far and away the largest Catholic country, to have no cardinal elector.* The other country is Uganda, with a Catholic population that is less than a sixth of that of the Philippines and which currently has one cardinal (Emmanuel Card. Wamala, who is 85 years old). On September of this year, the Philippines and Uganda will be joined by Colombia from among the 20 countries when its sole remaining cardinal elector, Pedro Cardinal Rubiano Saenz, Archbishop Emeritus of Bogota, turns 80.

* The 20 countries of the world with the largest Catholic populations, in order of size of Catholic population, are: Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, U.S.A, Italy, France, Colombia, Spain, Poland, Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, Germany, Venezuela, Nigeria, India, Canada, Ecuador, Uganda, Chile. (Source)

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