Towards an Eighth Consistory

August 31, 2021
Consistory of October 5, 2019

With the expected decline in the number of cardinal electors throughout 2022, the convocation of an eighth ordinary public consistory for the creation of new cardinals is a probability that has returned to the forefront of Vatican news.

In Rome, the whispered question on everyone's lips is: when will the next ordinary public consistory for the creation of new cardinal electors take place?

Let's say it straightaway, at the moment there is no rush, no fire on the lake—as the Swiss Guards would say. Indeed, at the end of August 2021, the cardinals who can enter into conclave in order to elect a new bishop of Rome are still one hundred and twenty-two, minus Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, deprived on September 27, 2020 of his prerogatives, and whose trial is currently being held at the Vatican.

Among these electors, thirteen were created cardinals under John Paul II, 39 under Benedict XVI, and seventy under the reigning pontiff.

122: That's little more than the maximum number of cardinal electors set by Pope Paul VI at 120.

In theory - and unless there is some incapacity - on December 29, 2022, the number of cardinal-electors will drop to 110, due to the application of the motu proprio Ingravescentem Aetatem which stipulates that cardinals who reach the age of 80 years automatically lose their right to elect Peter's successor.

Thus, Cardinal Angelo Scola will become non-elector on November 7. And throughout 2022, eleven other porporati will suffer the same fate, including cardinals Ravasi, Bertello, Maradiaga, and Vingt-Trois, to mention only the best known.

Suffice it to say that the probability of convening a new ordinary public consistory in the coming months is not unfounded. It would then be the eighth for the Argentine pontiff.

The opportunity to impose his mark a little more on the Sacred College, by internationalizing it a little more at the expense of the high Italian prelates of the Curia, who have definitely not finished grinding their teeth in the felted corridors of the apostolic palace.