Count Me out of Red Hat List, Declares Prelate
By John Cooney
February 22, 2006
IRELAND will not be allocated a third Red Hat today when Pope Benedict XVI announces his first list of new cardinals along with a sweeping reform of the Curia, the Vatican's government.
There will be huge disappointment throughout the Irish Church at the bypassing by the German Pontiff of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and Sean Brady, the Archbishop of Armagh.
Last night at a function in Dublin, Dr Martin said that despite media reports to the contrary, he was "absolutely clear" he would not be among the group of a dozen or so cardinals receiving their hats from Benedict XVI on March 25, the feast of The Annunciation.
He expects the appointments to be announced today.
"I wouldn't be at all surprised if cardinals were named, but I'd be very surprised if my name was on the list.
"I'm absolutely clear that my name will not be on the list," he said.
In recent days Dr Martin (60), a former Vatican diplomat, was emerging as a front-runner to become the fourth ever Archbishop of Dublin to receive a Red Hat.
There was strong speculation that he would be elevated to the College of Cardinals either as a senior head in the Curia or as resident Cardinal-Archbishop in the See of Dublin.
Vatican officials, however, still expect that Dr Martin - less than two years in his present post and with an enormous task to steer the Dublin diocese through the pending Commission of Investigation into clerical child sexual abuse - could be promoted to the College of Cardinals at Pope Benedict's next Consistory, perhaps even within the next six months.
A no-show was how one senior church official summed up a massive lowering of expectations last night that Ireland was today about to secure a record-breaking third member of the College of Cardinals.
Although Ireland already has two Princes of the Church, Cardinals Desmond Connell and Cahal Daly will be too old to vote at the next Conclave to elect a successor to the 78-year-old Benedict.
Only Cardinals under the age of 80 are eligible to vote.
Cardinal Daly, the former Archbishop of Armagh is 88.
Cardinal Connell loses his vote when he becomes 80 on March 24.
Last night Vatican sources suggested that Pope Benedict had decided that Ireland's two existing members represented more than a fair share in the College of Cardinals for a small country.
The Pope has been widely reported as planning to spread up to 12 new Red Hats geographically as widely as possible.
Today's announcements will be the first major policy decisions made by Pope Benedict, the former Cardinal Jospeh Ratzinger, since succeeding the late Pope John Paul II almost a year ago.
The new Cardinals will receive their Red Hats at a Consistory expected to be convened in Rome.
On the list of new Cardinals will be the Pope's own successor as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the American Archbishop William Levada. Also strongly tipped is the late Pope John Paul II's private secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz.
He is now the Archbishop of Krakow in Poland.
Cardinals-designate are likely to be named for Spain, France and Italy, as well as upgrades for existing heads of Vatican departments.
There is enormous interest in how the Pope's choice of names will signal the policy direction in which he wishes to steer.
Closely watched will be the changes which he makes in the Curia, the Vatican's combined equivalent of a government and a civil service.
This will give a real insight into his priorities.
In a gesture towards Islam, the Pope may decide to merge the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue with the Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
Other possibilities are an amalgamation of the Council for the Family and the Council for the Laity.
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