Vatican City, Jul 1, 2017 / 03:35 am
A consistory is a gathering of cardinals, which the Pope can convoke to give solemnity to a particular decision, or simply to ask his “Senate” to counsel him on an important issue. However, the most recent consistory, held June 28, was rather exceptional. Here are four reasons why.
A surprise consistory
The June 28 consistory was a real surprise: when Pope Francis announced it May 21, there had been none of the normal hints that he was going to call for one.
For one thing, there were only a few open “slots” in the College of Cardinals. According to the norm set by Bl. Paul VI and confirmed by St. John Paul II, there can be only 120 cardinals who have voting rights in the event of a conclave to choose the next Pope (the primary responsibility of cardinals).
However, Pope Francis made the decision to create five new cardinals, so following this week’s consistory, there are now 121 cardinals with the right to vote in a future conclave, surpassing the normal limit of 120.
He is not the first Pope to do so. St. John Paul II created 44 cardinals in the Feb. 21, 2001 consistory. This made 135 cardinals with voting rights, a full 15 over the limit set by Paul VI.
A small number of cardinals
Also unusual for a single consistory: Pope Francis created just five cardinals.