11 December 2014, The Tablet

Pope to create new cardinals in Feburary

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will hold a consistory to name new cardinals early next year.

The event will take place on February 14-15 with the names of those due to receive red hats likely to be announced by Francis around six weeks before.

As cardinals under the age of 80 elect a new Pope, creating new ones is a significant way to shape the leadership of the Church. 

There are 112 cardinals under the age of 80 with two more reaching that age before February and another two doing so in March and April.

With the limit for voting age cardinals set at 120 it leaves Francis with the option to give red hats to around 10 to 12 men. He is not, however, restricted to this number and could select more if he wished.

When creating his first batch of cardinals Francis gave red hats to the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, but he also surprised people by naming cardinals for the first time in Haiti and Cotabota, in the Philippines.

Last time the Pope did not name a single American prelate although next year a strong contender will be Archbishop Blase Cupich recently installed in Chicago and seen as a church leader in the mould of Francis.

Others in line for a red hat in America include Archbishops Charles Chaput of Philadelphia – where the Pope is visiting in September – and José Gomez of Los Angeles.

In Italy both Turin and Venice are traditionally “cardinalatial sees” but missed out in the last consistory and there are doubts about whether they will receive red hats in the future.  

It is expected that the Pope will continue to rebalance the College of Cardinals, still dominated by Europeans.

Of voting age cardinals there are 54 Europeans, 16 Latin Americans, 15 North Americans, 12 from Africa, 11 from Asia, two from the Middle East, one Caribbean and one from Oceania.

Other possible cardinal candidates include Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the new Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura – the Church’s supreme court - and Archbishop Anthony Fisher, recently installed in Sydney.  

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