Cardinal Appointments Keep Global North Dominant

Article excerpt

In naming 23 new cardinals on Oct. 17, including two Americans, Pope Benedict XVI does not seem to have stacked the deck in the body that will elect his successor in any political or theological sense, but he has reinforced the dominance of Europe and North America despite the demographic reality that most Catholics today live in the global South.

The list of new cardinals includes American Archbishops John Foley, a Philadelphia native who has served in the Vatican since 1984, and Daniel DiNardo of Houston, who worked for six years in the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops before being named the bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, in 1997, and moving to Houston in 2004.

DiNardo's nomination was something of a surprise, as most observers had expected the honor to go to Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington. Two factors may explain the choice: first, it reflects a shift in Catholic population in the United States away from the East Coast, toward the South and Southwest; second, DiNardo has good connections in Rome and among other American prelates, including Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, who was his boss in the Congregation for Bishops for a year.

The 23 new cardinals, including 18 under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pope, will be formally inducted into the college in a consistory in Rome on Nov. 24.


Because the College of Cardinals has had the exclusive right to elect Archbishop the pope since 1179, church-watchers always scour new appointments to see if they can detect efforts on behalf of the current pontiff to influence the selection of his successor.

This time around, it's difficult to discern any such attempt. The appointments include men widely seen as strong conservatives, such as German Archbishop Paul Joseph Cordes, president of the Vatican's "Cor Unum" charitable agency, and Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, but also figures generally seen as more moderate, such as Foley, Indian Archbishop Oswald Gracias, and Italian Archbishop Angelo Comastri. Two are veteran Vatican diplomats, Archbishops Leonardo Sandri and Giovanni Lajolo, and like diplomats everywhere, they tend to avoid sharply defined positions. …