In the coming days, Pope Francis will be announcing the names of those who will receive the “red hat” in the Feb. 22 consistory.
Popes traditionally read out the names of the cardinals-to-be at a general audience or Sunday Angelus at least a month prior to the event. At this point, it is likely that Pope Francis will use a general audience as his platform, probably that of either Jan. 22 or 15.
A “logical list” of the new cardinals would include only four created because of their function in the Roman Curia: Archbishops Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State; Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy; and Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
Following his election as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis gave Archbishop Baldisseri his own red biretta, traditionally a sign of things to come. At that time, Archbishop Baldisseri was serving as the conclave's secretary.
Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, archivist of the Vatican Secret archives and librarian of Vatican Library, is not expected to be named, though the red hat customarily has come with these offices.
But in choosing the new cardinals, Pope Francis may be looking to highlight the importance of peripheral Churches.
That means a glance to his native Latin America, where four easy choices for the cardinalate appear.
The new Latin American cardinals could be: Archbishops Mario Poli of Buenos Aires; Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago de Chile; Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, and Murilo Ramos Krieger of Sao Salvador of Bahia, in Brazil.
Pope Francis may also give the red biretta to Archbishop Eustaquio Cuquejo Verga of Asuncion. Should be made a cardinal, Archbishop Cuquejo would be the first Paraguayan cardinal.
The Pope is also paying a lot of attention to the Church in Asia; Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, revealed at the meeting of the association of an Italian diocesan magazine in early December that “we could expect” a papal trip to the continent in the future.
The Pope’s focus on Asia would be proven by the three new Asian cardinals he may create in the next consistory. The top candidates are Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul; Francis Xavier Kovithavanij of Bangkok; and Peter Okada of Tokyo.
Africa could also get two, possibly Archbishop Odon Razanakolona of Antananarivo, in Madagascar, and Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches, should also get the red hat in the next consistory.
Some sources maintain there will be no new cardinals from the United States, though should one be appointed, it may be Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit.
As to Europe, the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel, André-Joseph Leonard, could be expected, as the office-holder is traditionally made a cardinal. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster should also be appointed cardinal.
Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia, newly a member of the Congregation of Bishops, could be created cardinal as well. The appointment of Archbishop Bassetti would be a surprise to many. Perugia is by tradition not a diocese led by a cardinal. The last cardinal-archbishop of Perugia was Vincenzo Pecci, who was later elected Pope Leo XIII.
The choice of Archbishop Bassetti would signal that Pope Francis wants to get back to the “ad personam cardinalate”, i.e. the creation of cardinals according to the will and the trust of the Pope, and not as a consequence of their posts as archbishops.
Together with Archbishop Bassetti, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin should make the cut, though Patriarch Francesco Moraglia of Venice is not expected to do so. The absence of Patriarch Moraglia would confirm the “ad personam cardinalate” choice.
Pope Francis could also choose Archbishop Loris Capovilla, Prelate Emeritus of Loreto, and one-time secretary to Bl. John XXIII. Capovilla is 98, and thus could not take part in an eventual conclave, since he is well over the voting age.
His appointment would be a tribute to the canonization of Bl. John XXIII, which will take place April 27.
The new cardinals would only partially fill the “hole” in the College of Cardinals for what concerns the cardinals with right to vote in a conclave.
On Feb. 22, there will be 106 cardinal electors, and so Pope Francis will have 14 “red hats” available, according to the norm introduced by Paul VI which sets the maximum number of voting cardinals at 120.
On March 14, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop Emeritus of Milan, will turn 80, as will another 32 cardinals by the end of April, 2017, meaning that during the first four years of his pontificate, Pope Francis would be able to create at least 47 new cardinals, more than a third of the college of electors of the Bishop of Rome.
Pope Francis’ choices for cardinals are likely to fall in line with his pastoral emphasis and his desire that the Church go to the peripheries.