VATICAN CITY — Setting a Vatican record today isn’t easy. It took only a few minutes Oct. 24 to find out that the Nov. 24 consistory for the creation of cardinals will not set a record for being the smallest consistory.
Only six prelates are scheduled to receive their red hats in late November: U.S. Archbishop James M. Harvey, 63, prefect of the papal household; Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, 72; Indian Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, 68; Colombian Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, 70; and Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manila, 55.
As we reported in our announcement story, Pope Benedict himself was created a cardinal at a smaller consistory. In 1977, the then-archbishop of Munich and Freising was one of four cardinals created.
But many people thought perhaps Pope Benedict would go down in history as the first pope to hold a consistory at which no Europeans were created cardinals.
However, that’s not true either. In 1924, Pope Pius XI held a consistory and created only two cardinals and both were from the United States: Cardinals George W. Mundelein of Chicago and Patrick J. Hayes of New York.