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Pope Benedict XVI’s Cardinals: More Roman, Less ‘Catholic’


For Americans who take note of the pomp and circumstance — and politics — at the Vatican, the big news on Friday (Jan. 6) was that Pope Benedict XVI had included New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, and former Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, among the 22 churchmen that he will install as cardinals at a Mass at St. Peter’s next month.

The elevation of Dolan, 61, is not unexpected. His predecessor, retired Cardinal Edward Egan, will lose his vote in a papal conclave when he turns 80 in April. Popes have traditionally wanted to ensure New York is represented in the College of Cardinals for any future papal election.

But the larger story of Friday’s appointments — and an indication of how the next conclave may play out — is that the German pope continued his pattern of stacking the College of Cardinals with Europeans (mainly Italians) and with leaders of the Roman curia, the papal bureaucracy whose officials are often considered more conservative than prelates in dioceses around the world.

This trend goes against the push by Benedict’s predecessors, notably the late John Paul II, to “internationalize” the College of Cardinals and make it more representative of the global church. And it runs counter to the inexorable demographics of the church, which shows the number of Catholics growing in places like Africa, Asia, and Latin America, even as the faith barely treads water in North America and declines in Europe.

“This suggests an upside-down church,” Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for The Tablet, a Catholic weekly in London, said of the pope’s appointments. “It doesn’t reflect where the church is going.”

The numbers tell the story. Since Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in April 2005, his three batches of new cardinals have favored Europeans and those who work with him in Rome over bishops from other countries. [More]


RNS/Huffington Post



  1. Peter Johnstone, Melbourne, Australia says:

    Any responsible organisation in the world, if faced with the Church’s current circumstances, would:
    1. defer any further appointments to the standing CEO selection committee (college of cardinals/conclave)
    2. develop selection criteria for the next CEO/Pope based on a careful consideration of the present needs of the organisation (a strategy retreat, known in the Church as a Council, say Vatican III), and
    3. start identifying possible CEO/Pope candidates, looking outside the usual suspects (current deputies/the cardinals) to enrich the field.
    Unfortunately, the Vatican has a limited commitment to accountability, apparently believing that the CEO/Pope and the selection committee/conclave can rely on divine intervention. Perhaps God has higher expectations of the Church’s accountability to His people.

  2. Jim says:

    Thank you, Your Holiness! We are so blessed with you at the helm, guiding the barque of Peter.

  3. Michael says:

    Maybe we should pray that Dolan becomes the next Pope.

  4. Paul Skizinski says:

    If the Pope wants to ensure an ultra-conservative College of Cardinals, why didn’t he name Chaput, former Archbishop of Denver, who is now conservatizing Philadelphia?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why did we bother having Vatican II?

    • William L McCaughey says:

      Indeed! Why did we have Vatican II?? Think of the problems the Church could have avoided if she had remained constant and had not upset the apple cart so to speak! We are now split into various factions, suffering scandals among the clergy, losing members in countries that were once steadfastly Catholic, and seeing latin America slipping into the Protestant Evangelical camp. Great progress!!

      • Tony says:

        Hey Bill, don’t forget the Council was inspired by the Holy Spirit

        • William L McCaughey says:

          Do you have a direct line to the Holy Spirit?? The idea to call an ecumenical council was the brainchild of Pope John XXIII. Whether he was inspired by the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, or not, can be debated. It is not de fide!

          • D G Timbs says:

            William McCaughey: The views you express in both posts smack of a kind of default ‘sedevacantism’at worst or an expression of relief that the panel-beaters of the past 35 years have more or less belted the Church back into the shape of the pre-6o’s model. What we are all called to deal with here, William, is that Vat II did happen and that it did set in place certain directions for the future for better or for worse. That, in fact, is the story of the Church’s history and the narrative of divine inspiration mediated through the human. What the Church needs now more than ever is a leadership that listens to the real People of God not to interests of the compliant, sectarian few who are often confused with that reality we call ‘the Church.’
            Roncalli knew how to make that critical distinction.

            • William L McCaughey says:

              I am not a sedevacantist. I fully recognize the legitimacy of all the popes up to the present Vicar of Christ, Benedict XVI! The purpose of the Church has always been the salvation of souls. Whatever works to achieve that purpose is fine with me. Just make sure it works!

  6. Tony says:

    Dolan is a “nice guy” likeable conservative who puts a nice welcome face on the public image of the magisterium of the Church. But stacking the rest of the College of Cardinals with ultra-conservatives from the “old world” is a disservice to the Church as a whole.


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