tDespite a recent boomlet of conjecture about a consistory in late February or early March, the consensus in Rome these days seems to be that Pope Benedict XVI isn’t likely to create new cardinals until sometime later in 2010, perhaps as late as November. Between now and then, several other major events loom on the pope’s calendar: Trips to Malta in April, Portugal (Fatima) in May, Cyprus in June and the United Kingdom in September, as well as a Synod of Bishops for the Middle East in October.
tAs of today, there are a total of 182 cardinals, of whom 111 are under the age of 80 and hence eligible to vote for the next pope. In March, three more cardinals will turn 80, followed by one each in July and August, three more in September, and one each in October and November. Hence if Benedict XVI waits until November, there would be at least 19 slots for new voting cardinals – presuming, as most do, that Benedict intends to honor the limit of 120 set by Pope Paul VI.
tTwo of the ten cardinals who will “age out” in coming months, by the way, are Americans: Theodore McCarrick of Washington and Adam Maida of Detroit, both now retired.