Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Smell of Fresh Moiré

It's been buzzed about on these pages for months, but it's safe to say that a Consistory Watch begins in earnest on this May Day.

Sometime over the next four weeks -- more likely toward month's end -- Benedict XVI is widely expected to announce his intent to augment the College of Cardinals with 20 or so new members. An announcement of a 28 June consistory (the second of this pontificate) would be in line with the Pope's stated wish to gather his cardinals more frequently than in the reign of John Paul II, not just to add to the number of the papal "senate," but also to take soundings from them and allow the "princes of the church" to get to know each other better, with an eye to the day when those under 80 will gather to elect his successor. Further adding to the building consensus of the tipped date, three of the current 108 cardinal-electors superannuate this month... not to mention that, as previously cited, late June marks the 30th anniversary of the conferral of the red hat on the newly-ordained archbishop of Munich and Freising, Joseph Ratzinger.

Possibilities abound, of course, as do the slates of potential cardinabili. It would appear that the US is up for two slots on a biglietto of creation in light of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum's 80th birthday last November, and the September '07 departure of Cardinal Edmund Szoka from the voting pool.

More likely than not, one of the coveted scarlet birettas has "Washington" written inside it. As for the other, this might be the moment when, just as the birds migrate north, one cardinalate flies south.

As always, stay tuned.