Citing the high number of cardinals reaching 80 years of age, Vatican experts say the possibility of a consistory taking place soon is becoming evermore likely. By the end of March 2010, there will be no fewer than 12 positions available for the elevation of new cardinals.
Cardinals reaching the age of 80 are no longer able to vote in the election of a new Pope, should the occasion arise. Currently there are 182 members of the College of Cardinals, spanning all ages, with 112 eligible to vote in Papal conclaves.
The traditional number of cardinal electors is 120.
In addition to the eight cardinals who have already reached the 80-year ceiling, this Wednesday Archbishop Emeritus of Toronto, Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic will celebrate his birthday, thus losing his vote in Papal conclaves and clearing the way for the creation of a new cardinal. Within the next two months, three more cardinals including American Cardinal Adam Maida will celebrate birthdays and also reach the mark.
According to the experts, this puts Pope Benedict XVI in an interesting situation, with no other cardinal celebrating his 80th until July and an additional 13 reaching the milestone between then and March of 2011. Therefore, an immediate consistory called for by the Pope around the end of February or the beginning of March wouldn't be a surprise, with another consistory to follow around the same dates next year.
Included among the 25 cardinals that will reach the limit in the next 13 months are Archbishop Emeritus of Washington D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore, Cardinal William Keeler.