Pope will reveal his choices at the end of January
The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, would, in the next few weeks, chose the cardinals who would help him set the church’s future course and one day elect his successor from their number.
A Reuters report, Tuesday, indicated that the Pope’s choice of cardinals was one of the clearest signals of the direction in which he wants the 1.2 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church to go, and what type of man he wants to succeed him.
It said Francis was expected to reveal his choices before the end of January so that preparations for the ceremonial could be made.
In the past, it was a fairly safe bet that archbishops of big dioceses or those heading Vatican departments traditionally headed by cardinals would get the three-peaked “biretta”, the red ceremonial hat that cardinals wear.
But Francis, who renounced the spacious papal suite for a modest apartment in a Vatican guest house, and was driven around in a simple Ford Focus instead of a bulletproof Mercedes limousine, has shown little regard for precedent or tradition.
Father Antonio Spadaro, Editor, Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica said, “He will feel very free to choose the people he thinks should be in those positions, regardless of what was done before.”
He said the move would create better understanding of the direction of the Catholic Church.
Spadaro said there are currently 14 vacancies in the College of Cardinals for cardinal electors, those who would be allowed to enter a conclave to elect a pope.
He said the church rules in theory limit the number of cardinal electors to 120 but Francis could decide to bend or even abolish the rule.
Spadaro said the 10 cardinals who are now electors would turn 80 during 2014, so Francis could appoint as many as 24 new cardinal electors and still have their number back to 120 by the end of the year.