With the latest papal appointments to the College of Cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI has now appointed more than half the men who will elect his successor. The impact of these appointments can be seen by comparing the makeup of the current college with its makeup at the time of his election in 2005. Who has gained, who has lost?
The bigger gainer is Italy. At the time of Benedict’s election, the Italians made up 16.5 percent of the college. After February 12, the Italian cardinals will be 24 percent of the college. This reverses the trend begun by Pope Paul VI and continued by John Paul II that reduced the percentage of Italian cardinals in the college.
The other big winner under Pope Benedict has been the Roman Curia, which now makes up about one third of the College of Cardinals, up from a little less than a quarter of the college in 2005.
Who has lost? Africa, Asia, Latin America and Western Europe (not counting Italy) are all slightly down from 2005. The pope had to take a little bit from each of them in order to increase Italy’s numbers.
The proportion of the college that is American and Canadian has remained the same, although the U.S. will lose two cardinals this year when Edward Egan and James Francis Stafford turn 80. Nine other cardinals will turn 80 this year, only one from Italy. Latin America will lose three; Western Europe two; Eastern Europe one. Thus, aging alone will further increase the proportion of the Italian bloc by the end of this year.