Opinion & Analysis
Letter from Rome: The pope's detractors are seeing red3:03 PM, September 9, 2019
Vatican City:After pope announces new cardinals, he is being accused of 'stacking the deck' with cronies and outsiders.
Even the most ardent supporters and fans of Pope Francis could not have seen this one coming.
On the first day of September the 82-year-old pope surprised just about everyone when, at the very end of his Sunday Angelus address, he announced — out of the blue and rather nonchalantly — that he was going to create 10 new cardinals who were under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a papal conclave.
"Together with them, I will add to the members of the College of Cardinals two archbishops and a bishop [over the age of 80] who have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church," he said.
All 13 will get their red hats and officially become cardinals on Oct. 5 during a consistory at the Vatican.
The number of cardinal-electors currently stands just two below the limit of 120 set by Paul VI. After next month's consistory it will swell to 128, although several days later it will stand at 124.
That is still four beyond the ceiling set by Pope Paul.
Barring any deaths, the number of electors will not return to the threshold of 120 until more than a year from now. The exact date is Nov. 12, 2020. That's when Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop-emeritus of Washington, will be the last of the four cardinals who lose their vote at some point during the next calendar year.
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