From “National Catholic Register” (NCR) from 2 days ago. Click here for the original.
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Pope Francis will turn 80 on December 17, 2016.
Pope Francis has repeatedly stated, voluntarily, from the very start of his papacy on March 13, 2013, that his will be a short papacy and that he will have no qualms about retiring — though the notion of pope’s retiring only became a reality with the last pope, Benedict XVI.
Age ’80’, since the 1970s, has become an artificial ‘high water mark’ in Catholicism since this is when cardinals lose their right to vote in conclaves — while the nominal retirement agent for Archbishops, Bishops and senior curial officers is 75.
While the pope does not have to retire EVER — IF he does want to retire then turning 80 would be a symbolic time (and one that would be much appreciated by cardinals who don’t really like losing their franchise upon reaching that age).
December 17 isn’t that far away. If he resigns on or around his birthday there will be CHAOS with Christmas but two weeks away! They would have to hold a conclave just ahead of Christmas. That would be inconvenient. Yes, he can announce his retirement on his birthday and say that (like Benedict XVI) he will step down after ‘x-weeks’. That would take us into mid-January, and a conclave towards the end of January 2017.
Francis in his 3 years and 3 months as pope has held 2 cardinal creating consistories and created a total of 39 cardinals. That is unremarkable, not too many or not too little. Right now there are 112 cardinal electors (120 the supposed (but untested) MAX). There is no quorum per se. 60 cardinals electors could, quite legitimately, elect a pope. There were 117 eligible cardinal electors for the 2015 conclave and 113 participated.
The annual November “Solemnity of Christ the King” is a favored time, ‘of late’, for cardinal creating consistories. This year it will fall on Sunday, November 20, 2016. So the consistory will be held on the Saturday, November 19th, with the celebratory Mass on the Sunday feast.
November 19th is a propitious day for a cardinal creating consistory. Italian Cardinal Ennio Antonelli will turn 80 the day before opening up one more cardinal elector slot. Barring deaths, with Antonelli’s aging out the electors will be down to 108 on November 19th. Another, Théodore-Adrien Sarr, will turn 80 on November 28th — 9 days later. So there will be 13 genuine cardinal elector slots. That is a nice number to fill.
So, some food for thought.
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