Thursday, February 23, 2006

THE CONSISTORY: Reese Crunches the Numbers

For some reason, I'm still not on Fr Tom Reese's vaunted e.mail list. Here's hoping that changes, as his books were the best manuals I could ask for in learning the business side of things in my salad days.

Anyways, Tom's cooked up his analysis of the new class and how it breaks down numerically -- I'm not this good with figures, so God love him for doing it.

Some snips:
The U.S. gains big time; Europe regains half the electors; Asia eases forward; Italy and Latin America loose slightly; Africa left in the dust.

Benedict XVI appointed two more Americans to be cardinals, bringing the U.S. total to 13 under 80 years of age, the highest number ever to have the right to vote in a papal conclave.

After each of the last three consistories (1998, 2001 and 2003), the U.S. total was 11 cardinals under 80. Considering the fact that Benedict, unlike his predecessor, has kept the voting college to 120 cardinals, this increase for the U.S. is even more significant. It raises the American bloc to 10.8 percent of the cardinal electors when normally it has been 8 or 9 percent.
This percentage will only grow as cardinals within the voring age superannuate -- nine more do this year, eight next year (among them Cardinal Edmund Szoka, formerly of Detroit, now running the Governatorato).
The choices Benedict made could have an impact on the next conclave. For example, after the 2003 consistory, Europe had 48 percent of the vote and the Third World had 40 percent. After the March consistory the Europeans will have 50 percent of the vote and the Third World only 35 percent. Benedict has increased the voice of the First World (Europe and the U.S.) in the college of cardinals and reduced the voice of the Third World.

The biggest surprise is that no African was made a cardinal except for Archbishop Dery who is over 80 years of age and therefore cannot vote. Africa has had as many as 13 cardinal electors and 9.6 percent of the vote, but after the March consistory, it will have only 9 electors and 7.5 percent of the vote. Granted the way many people, including Vatican officials, have said that the future of the church is in Africa because of the large number of conversions and vocations, the absence of an African on the list is surprising.
Note too that, on the first consistory list of the first German Pope since before the Reformation, there were no Germans, either..... Hmmmmmm.
Also taking a slight hit was Italy, which is down to only 20 cardinal electors, less than after the 1998 (22), 2001 (24) and 2003 (23) consistories. This continues a trend started by John Paul of reducing the size of the Italian bloc in the college of cardinals. This is the same number of cardinals Italy had after the 1994 consistory.

Latin America also took a slight hit. With one new cardinal, it will have 20 cardinals or 16.7 percent of the electors. After the 1998 consistory it had 23 (18.9%), after 2001 it had 27 (20%), and after 2003 it had 24 (17.8%).