Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview

67
Pope stacks school of cardinals

( November 11, 1994) In the sixth consistory of his pontificate, Pope John Paul has rewarded his friends and left potential "dissidents" out in the cold. By creating 30 more cardinals, 23 of them under 80 and eligible therefore to vote in the next conclave, he has done everything possible to ensure that his successor will be "sound."

I deliberately use the old words -- "creating cardinals" -- because it is so accurate. The pope makes cardinals out of nothing. He need consult nobody. They are entirely dependent on his will. Agency reports speak of him as "installing cardinals" Nov. 26. There is no such ceremony.

Many appointments are "obvious." A cardinal's hat -- also now symbolic -- goes with certain major sees. The two Americans, Joseph Maida, 64, archbishop of Detroit, and William Henry Keeler, 63, archbishop of Baltimore, fall into this category.

But then one has to ask why Justin Rigali, 59, since January archbishop of another see that normally carries a hat, failed to get one. Perhaps he is in this context "too young." We need to see how he performs in St. Louis before moving him to New York when Cardinal John J. O'Connor tenders his resignation Jan. 15, 1995. But not all the obvious nominations are ideologically neutral. Pierre Eyt, archbishop of Bordeaux, France, is close to the "new movements" and possibly Opus Dei.

Opus Dei members may imagine they have the next conclave sown up thanks to the sympathy shown it by the camerlingo or chamberlain, Spanish Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, 67, appointed in 1991. On the death of the pope, his task will be to arrange the funeral and organize the conclave.

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, 67, archbishop of Milan, does not stand a chance in this company -- although he was at the top of the list of European bishops in the election for the synod council.

Then there are "political" appointments in communist or semicommunist countries. John Paul's Polish experience persuades him that cardinals -- men in red -- are best equipped to deal with reds. Thus the archbishop of Hanoi, Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, 75, gets the nod. So, too, does Jaime Luca Ortega y Alamino, 58, arch-

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