~via Papa Ratzinger Forum. By Franca Giansoldati of Il Messaggero
The second consistory of the Ratzinger era will most likely be announced on October 24, at the end of the Wednesday general audience, exactly ad the Pope did on February 22, 2006 when he directly announced the first consistory to the audience in attendance at Aula Paolo VI.
This time, there will be at least 17 new cardinals named in a consistory on the Feast of Christ the King (November 23), which precedes the last liturgical Sunday of the year.
Papa Ratzinger appears to be following the example of his predecessors, in full respect of the rule that limits the number of cardinal-electors (those aged below 80) to 120.
This limit was set by Pope Paul VI, but Pope John Paul II exceeded it several times, although he never moved to change the rule.
With the recent death of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, there are now 182 cardinals, of which 105 are entitled to elect a new Pope.
The autumn consistory will contribute to the silent revolution which Benedict XVI, in characteristic style, has been effecting in the Curia and in the Church - no radical or traumatic changes, but a series of nominations to create a network of co-workers who have his confidence.
In the autumn, two more prominent cardinals will be losing the right to vote in a Conclave - Cardinal Edmund Szoka, the Polish-born American bishop who was for years the Governor of Vatican City, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, who turns 80 on the Feast of Christ the King.
A new consistory is always the object of much speculation and analysis because the choice of new cardinals inevitably reflects the geopolitical vision of the Pope with respect to governance of the Church.
Nominees are examined as to their country of origin and the relative importance of their continent of origin for the future of the Church. Also analyzed is how many come from the Curia as opposed to those who represent diocesan seats, and if they are members of a religious order, which order they represent.
This time, the list of obvious candidates includes some important dioceses like Sao Paulo, Paris, Washington (DC) and Warsaw.
Leading the Italian nominees will be Mons. Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian bishops conference;
Mons. Angelo Comastri, arch-priest of St. Peter's Basilica; Mons, Paolo Romeo, Archbishop of Palermo; Mons, Giovanni Lajolo, governor of Vatican City state; and Mons. Raffaele Farina, recently-named Librarian of the Holy Roman Church.
From the Curia, Argentine bishop Leonardo Sandri, who was named last June to head the Congregation for Oriental Churches; Mons, Josef Cordes, German, who heads the Pontifical Council Cor Unum; Mons. Stanyslaw Rylko, Polish, who heads the Pontifical Council for the Laity; and Mons, John Foley, American, who was until recently, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.