Wednesday, October 24, 2012

B16 Presents: The "Chito Consistory"

As this morning's word came "out of the blue" and the traditional lead-in wasn't able to be run in advance, well, better late than never....

On a history note, today's shock announcement of a consistory a month from today to elevate six new cardinals marks the first time since 1929 that the Pope's "Senate" will see two separate intakes within the same calendar year. 

At the same time, there was an even shorter interval – all of three and a half months – between two groups created by Blessed John XXIII in December 1959 and March 1960.

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That said, consistories are never about the past, but the future... and as each one tends to have its "star," it's a pretty obvious call that the coming intake will be decidedly Chito-centric.

Named to his post a year ago last week, the singing, weeping, bike-riding and YouTubing 55 year-old head of Asia's largest diocese – a member of the progressive-leaning "Bologna school" team of Vatican II historians – clearly hasn't been dubbed the "golden child" for nothing... 

...and in his first comments following the news, Cardinal-designate Luis Antonio Tagle (Pron.: "Tahg-lay") of Manila quickly took to Vatican Radio to reiterate his Synod call for the church to be something better than "a triumphalistic, a 'know-it-all' type of institution."

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Even if Tagle is a decorated doctoral alum of the Catholic University of America in Washington – where the Asian "star" studied under Fr Joe Komonchak – on a note closer to home, with the elevation of Cardinal-designate James Harvey after 15 years at the helm of the Papal Household, for the second time in B16's pontificate, the prelate given the first slot on the biglietto (literally, the "ticket" into the College) will be an American. 

With the 63 year-old Milwaukee native's transfer to the basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls – the first American ever to hold one of the "Big Five" posts in the Secretariat of State – the job of a overseeing a papal court that's fallen under scrutiny in the wake of the "Vatileaks" fiasco likewise opens up, prompting a heady succession stakes all its own. (The cardinal-to-be is shown left welcoming Barack Obama to the Apostolic Palace on the President's July 2009 visit to the Pope.)

In a first, meanwhile, alongside his ordination classmate – now the church's "chief justice" – on Harvey's impending elevation, two Roman cardinals will have come from Wisconsin roots.