Cardinals Going... and Coming?
As, barring deaths, precisely 17 slots for red-hats under 80 will be open under the norms of Paul VI's Romani Pontifici Eligiendo -- the late pontiff's 1975 constitution on the conclave -- on the expected consistory date, whenever an announcement comes, Benedict XVI is expected to retain the Pauline custom and honor the document's fixed limit of 120 cardinal-electors.
Given the death early today of the Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, a key collaborator in the revision of the Code of Canon Law and, during his retirement in his home country, a vocal critic of the Chavez regime there, the College of Cardinals now stands at 179 members, with 104 of voting age.
On Friday, noting that the "anticipation is growing" behind the Vatican walls, a column in Il Foglio likewise offered tomorrow's date for the likely consistory announcement. The paper also reported that the draft list of the designates, "while not definitive," appeared already set.
Another consistently reliable Roman source, however, said earlier today that he was "really doubtful" the announcement would take place and that he hasn't found anyone "who has even had a whiff of this."
Until firmer word comes in, keep in mind that there's still a week to the feasible timetable for a late-November call; the first consistory of the Ratzinger pontificate, held on 24 March 2006, was announced on 22 February, precisely 30 days in advance. Along those lines, an announcement at the Wednesday Audience on 24 October would come 31 days before its target.
Whatever happens, whenever it happens, as always, stay tuned.