Europeans outnumbered other cardinals recently elected by Pope Benedict XVI, making it look “more and more likely that his successor will be a European, if not an Italian,” reports the British Catholic magazine The Tablet (Oct. 30).
In late November, Benedict gave the red hat to 11 new European cardinals, as well as four Africans, two Americans, two Latin Americans and an Asian. Eight of the Europeans are Italian and a high number of 13 currently work or have worked in the Roman Curia. Veteran Vatican affairs observer Giancarlo Zizola said that “[o]ne cannot recall in the last decades of the 1900s such an impetuous affirmation of the ‘Roman Party’.”
Since his election in 2005, Benedict has given a “disproportionate number of Europeans top positions in the Vatican and red hats in the college of cardinals,” writes Robert Mickens. Because cardinals (under the age of 80) elect, and are usually elected as, successors to the papacy, the high numbers of Europeans are not insignificant, although Mickens notes that the 23 voting cardinal positions that will open up in the next two years could change things. Most of those recently elected are moderate conservatives, although there are doctrinal hardliners, such as Raymond Burke, a strongly prolife American bishop who denied communion to pro-choice politicians.
The more conservative and Rome-based magazine Inside the Vatican (November) breaks down the ideological divide as follows: nine conservatives, seven on the more liberal side, with the remaining number not placed firmly in any camp. The magazine notes that most of the conservatives favor restoring the Latin Mass to greater prominence in the church.
(The Tablet, 1 King Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London W6 0QZ, UK; Inside the Vatican, PO Box 57, New Hope, KY 40052-0057)