Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Calendar

I once made this cool chart. It plotted the days of the week that Christmas could fall on and then the succeeding Sundays because I was interested in seeing if it was at all possible for there ever to be a Second Sunday of Christmas since the calendar jumps through so many hoops this time of year thanks to Epiphany's move to a Sunday. I carried it out for all seven days I think and came to the conclusion that it was impossible and that the Second Sunday of Christmas has been banished forever and ever (at least in the US).

In any case, I just thought of that. I was going to post on how today is the sixth day of the Octave of Christmas and how it strikes me as odd every year that it is the only day that is a feria, but that's not really interesting in and of itself.

I was going to wait until tomorrow to pronounce who I think is the most important player this last year, but we might as well cut to the chase:

Benedict XVI

Pretty obvious, huh? After all, he did issue the MP, he wrote an encyclical. Didn't he come out with Jesus of Nazareth too this year? Honorable mention goes to the good Archbiship Ranjith of CDW just because he's been at the fore in defending the Holy Father's work this year.

We all know what is the major story of the year (Summorum Pontificum), but what is important but largely overlooked, even at the time it was issued, is the Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio with which Pope Benedict XVI reinstates the traditional norms for the majority required to elect the Supreme Pontiff. The two-thirds majority was something that came out of the history of the Church and as it stood, if John Paul II's reform had been in place at the time of his election, he probably wouldn't have been elected. Two-thirds requires consensus and Benedict XVI rightly restored the equilibrium of the papal election process. Of course, he added a few tweaks of this own, but they can be forgiven. Of course, it would be nice if the 'general acclamation' method was reinstated as well, but we will go on hoping all the same.

That about sums up the Year of Our Lord 2007. See you next year. Have a nice rest of the Octave and God bless.


Louis E. said...

I worry about the unanswered questions of the papal election process.It seems to me that under the Pope's new rule,they have to choose by two thirds BUT are only allowed two candidates to choose from.So if both men have slightly over a third of the electors totally opposed to them,then what?
Also...who would preside over a conclave if all six Cardinal-Bishops of the Suburbicarian Sees were aged over 80?(Three are at the moment).

Jacob said...


That's never been clarified for me. Cardinals over eighty can't vote. But are they explicitly prohibited from attending?

Louis E. said...

Cardinals over 80 can participate in the General Congregations preparatory to the conclave but not enter the conclave.The Dean presides over the General Cognregations but the senior cardinal-bishop under age 80 presides over the conclave.Thus,at present Sodano would preside over the preparatory meetings but Lopez Trujillo the conclave itself.
Whether over-80s have a vote in matters before the General Congregation where "Universi Domenici Gregis" does not explicitly reserve the matter to electors is not clear from the text but I suppose the cardinals know what they did in 2005!

Jacob said...

I find the entire thing pointless anyway. Benedict of all people should know that retirement ages are meaningless for a great many, himself included, while others grow old and die long before eighty.

If the purpose is automatic turnover in the college's ranks, there ought to be a more appropriate mechanism.

Louis E. said...

Certainly with lengthening lives the age limit is having a harder bite...when Paul VI put in the cut-off it disqualified about one ninth of the College but now it takes out about 40%.
If the idea is to cap the size of the electorate perhaps the rule could be the youngest 120 cardinals,or the 120 longest-serving cardinals,depending on whether one preferred time as an "alternate" to precede or follow time as a full voting member.

Jacob said...

Since my surgery, I haven't been keeping up on my college list you generously provided. I've been rather remiss and need to update that to keep track.

With all the usual positions in the curia that traditionally are reserved for cardinals, it is hard to keep the number of cardinals down and still have cardinals from around the world in addition to those in Rome. Your idea about the oldest cardinals is interesting...

Louis E. said...

Of course the College was once much smaller.It grew substantially in the 16th century and Sixtus V intended to cap the size at 70 (6 cardinal bishops,50 [twice the "traditional" number] cardinal priests,14 cardinal deacons) and for centuries this was taken as binding on all future Popes.
Pius XII was elected by 61 of 62 votes (denied unanimity by the rule banning voting for oneself) on his 63rd birthday,35 of the electors being Italian.He ended 500 years of Italian majority with his "Great Consistory" of 1946 (32 new cardinals of whom only 4 were Italian) but never touched the limit of 70 members.
John XXIII immediately broke the limit and Paul VI was elected by 80 cardinals,45 of whom were named in John's brief pontificate.
Since then the College has continued to grow and any future Pope who thinks it would be better off smaller is in a difficult spot if he wants to make any appointments himself.
If only the 70 senior cardinals could vote,half the 1994 cardinals would still be waiting for voting rights,and if only the senior 120 could vote,not all the 2001 cardinals would be voting yet.