Thursday, February 23, 2006

THE CONSISTORY: Pars Corporis Nostri

An enthusiast of newly- named Cardinal- designate Albert Vanhoye, S.J. has been kind enough to send along this photo of the eminent biblical scholar with the then-Grand Inquisitor Ratzinger.

In the late 80s, when Vanhoye -- a former secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission -- taught scripture at the Gregorian, a source wrote in to say that he was "revered by his students (which is quite unusual)." Robert Mickens -- whose analysis you'll all get to see on the morrow in the pages of The Tablet -- noted that, when revealing the Jesuit's name as the last of his new cardinal-creations, the Pope did ad-lib a little, calling Vanhoye "grande esegeta" -- "a great exegete."

None of the others got similar effusiveness.

Whether the 82 year-old Vanhoye, a simple priest of French birth, will receive episcopal ordination in light of his new honor is an open question, but he probably won't.

Of course, John XXIII's rule from 1962 technically stands -- that cardinals who lack the episcopal character at the announcement of their elevation must receive it before they receive the red hat. However, all of the Jesuit priests since then who, as opposed to the heads of dioceses, were given membership in the College as a personal honorific for their service to some aspect or another of church life (Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthazar, Paolo Dezza, Alois Grillmeier, Roberto Tucci, Avery Dulles and Thomas Spidlik) have asked not to be ordained bishops in light of their elevations. And, of course, the Popes have had to sign off on that.

However, as you all well know, even though they lack the episcopal character, non-bishop cardinals are still entitled to the mitre, ring, pectoral cross, rochet, crozier, etc.

And, as the church queens will tell you, those are the things that count above all else.