Commenting on Pope Benedict’s selection of 22 new members for the College of Cardinals, John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter notes that the Pontiff has increased the strength—already disproportionate—of European and especially Italian cardinals among the group that will choose his successor.


Writing just before the Pope made his list public, Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa confirmed his standing as a reliable Vatican analyst by correctly identifying 17 of the 18 prelates who would be named as cardinal-electors. Tornielli missed only one of the Curial officials on the Pope’s list. Among the archbishops he named as likely to receive a red hat only one–Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Rai—was not among the Pope’s selections.

Along with the European influence, Allen notes the remarkable number of cardinal-electors who work, or have worked, in the Roman Curia. Finally, Allen notes that only one cardinal was chosen from Latin America, and none from Africa. Thus the Pope’s choices come largely from a continent where the Catholic faith is on the wane, and not from the emerging nations where the faith is growing.

The selection of New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan is noteworthy because it breaks an informal rule: ordinarily, a residential archbishop is not named a cardinal if his successor is alive, under the age of 80, and thus eligible to vote in a conclave. Archbishop Dolan’s predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan, is still a cardinal-elector. Nevertheless he will receive a red hat, apparently because of the Pope’s respect for Archbishop Dolan personally, for his post as president of the US bishops’ conference, and for the importance of the New York archdiocese.



That unspoken rule does apply, however, to Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England’s leading prelate, who will not receive a red hat this year. The previous Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, will turn 80 in August. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia may also have been affected by the usual rule, since Cardinal Justin Rigali is only 76 years old.

One other noteworthy omission from the Pope’s list, Allen observes, is Archbishop Salvatore (“Rino”) Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. Pope Benedict clearly sees the “new evangelization” as a top priority, and by raising the president of this newly created dicastery to the College of Cardinals, he might have given it extra prominence.




By Deacon Keith Fournier

We express our jubilation and pledge our prayer for the Cardinal Elect from New York

"Western civilization seems to have lost its way, it is sailing blind. But the Church, through the Word of God, sees through this fog" said Pope Benedict XVI. To help him steer the Barque of Peter in this critical hour, he has announced the selection of new Cardinals. Among them is Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York – a headlight through the fog and a beacon of the New Evangelization.

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – Following the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany in Rome on Friday,  the much awaited announcement finally came. Here is a portion of the Vatican Radio report :

"The world, with all its resources, is incapable of providing humanity with the light to guide it on its path", said Pope Benedict XVI Friday marking the Feast of the Epiphany with pilgrims present in St Peter’s Square for the midday Angelus – during which he also announced a consistory for the creation of new cardinals.

"We can see as much in our day", he continued "Western civilization seems to have lost its way, it is sailing blind. But the Church, through the Word of God, sees through this fog. She does not possess any technical solutions, but keeps Her eyes fixed on the goal, and offers the light of the Gospel to all people of good will, to every nation and culture".

"And to help the Church in this mission, to his own joy and the joy of thousands gathered in the square below, the Holy Father announced a consistory for February 18th next, during which he will create 22 new Cardinals. 18 of them will be cardinal-electors, which means they are eligible to vote in conclave.

"Ten of the Prelates to be elevated to the college of cardinals are drawn from the Curia. Most notably – and first on the list – Archbishop Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and US native, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, Pro Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

"Eight of the cardinals-elect are resident bishops. Of note the names of two North Americans, Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, Canada, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, USA. The Holy Father also named two resident bishops from the great continent of Asia: His Beatitude George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro Malabar (India) and John Tong Hon, Bishop of Hong Kong (China).

"Pope Benedict also announced that one bishop and four priests, who have distinguished themselves in their commitment to the Church, will be made cardinals in the February consistory although they will not be eligible to vote in conclave having passed the age limit of 80 years. Among these, Jesuit Fr. Karl Becker, Professor Emeritus of Dogmatic Theology of the Pontifical Gregorian University.

"The Pope concluded by inviting all faithful to pray for them, "asking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, so they may always bear witness with courage and dedication to their love for Christ and his Church."

"Of the 22 cardinals, 16 are from Europe (7 Italian), 4 from the Americas, 2 from Asia.There are currently 214 members of the College of Cardinals, 125 of whom are eligible to vote in a papal election."

And, through the extraordinary reporting prowess – and unmatched reliability – our very favorite "Vaticanisti", Rocco Palmo, offers this statement from the Cardinal designate, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, found on Rocco’s ever helpful "Whispers in the Loggia"

Statement of Archbishop Timothy Dolan

"On this "Twelfth Day of Christmas" the traditional celebration of the Epiphany, I have received a gift from Pope Benedict XVI, as he announced just a couple of hours ago at the end of Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica that I would be among those to become a cardinal in Rome at the consistory of February 18th.

"Yes, I am honored, humbled, and grateful, .but, let’s be frank: this is not about Timothy Dolan; this is an honor from the Holy Father to the Archdiocese of New York, and to all our cherished friends and neighbors who call this great community home.

"It’s as if Pope Benedict is putting the red hat on top of the Empire State Building, or the Statue of Liberty, or on home plate at Yankee Stadium; or on the spires of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral or any of our other parish churches; this is the successor of Saint Peter saying to the clergy, sisters, brothers, lay faithful of this archdiocese, and to all of our friends and neighbors of New York: Thank you! Keep up the good work! You are a leader, an inspiration, to the Church and to the world.

"Over the Christmas holy days I finished a biography of President Kennedy, and recalled his reply to someone who sincerely congratulated him on the honor of the presidency.

"Thanks," John Kennedy replied, "but I don’t look at it so much as an honor as a call to higher service."

"My sentiments exactly. This is not about privilege, change of colors, hats, new clothes, places of honor, or a different title. Jesus warned us about all that stuff.

"No: this is about an affirmation of love from the Pope to a celebrated archdiocese and community, and a summons to its unworthy archbishop to serve Jesus, His Church universal, His vicar on earth, and His people better.

"I’ll try to do that.but I sure need your prayers.

"Adding to our sense of joy, is the news that another native New Yorker, my brother bishop and good friend, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, until recently Archbishop of Baltimore and now the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, has also been elevated to the cardinalate. The Cardinal-designate was ordained a priest for this Archdiocese in 1965, and he is still warmly remembered for his service here as a priest, secretary to Cardinals Cooke and O’Connor, Rector of Saint Joseph’s Seminary, and auxiliary bishop.

"Thanks so much for your good wishes."