ROME — Cardinal-designate Walter Brandmuller was ordained a bishop Saturday, exactly one week before he was scheduled to be inducted into the College of Cardinals.
The 81-year-old retired president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences was ordained at the Church of Santa Maria dell’Anima, the home of Rome’s German-speaking Catholic community.
The German historian was one of four churchmen over the age of 80 named cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI Oct. 20. The octogenarians were named to honor their contributions to the life and ministry of the church; they cannot vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.
Two of the four over-80s were already bishops when the pope named them cardinals: Italian Bishop Elio Sgreccia, retired president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, 82; and Spanish Archbishop Jose Manuel Estepa Llaurens, former military ordinary of Spain, 84.
The fourth is 93-year-old Italian Msgr. Domenico Bartolucci, retired director of the Sistine Chapel Choir. Since 1962 the Catholic Church has required all cardinals to be bishops, but Cardinal-designate Bartolucci asked Pope Benedict to exempt him from the rule, said an official at the College of Cardinals.
Cardinals-designate Brandmuller and Bartolucci are among 11 priests over the age of 80 who have been named cardinals since 2000. Seven of the 11 requested and received the exemption from episcopal ordination.
The consistory to create the new cardinals is scheduled for Saturday at the Vatican.