21 December 2008

Vacancy: Cardinal-Bishop of Palestrina

Within the inner circle of the Pope (the College of Cardinals) is another much smaller circle: the Cardinal-Bishops. This group of 6 includes the Dean and Vice-Dean (sometimes called Sub-Dean) of the College of Cardinals.1

These 6 are often quite well known and today is no exception. The current Cardinal-Bishops are: Cardinals Sodano, Etchegaray, Re, Arinze, and Bertone.

Cardinal Bertone was elevated in May taking the place left open by the death of Cardinal López Trujillo.

Pope Benedict XVI has only named one other Cardinal-Bishop and that was to replace himself as Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri-Segni after his election to the papacy. Cardinal Arinze was his selection. 2

Which leaves the curious case of the Cardinal-Bishop of Palestrina. In the two previous vacancies, the replacement was named within a month. But Cardinal Gantin (the last holder of this office) died more than 6 months ago.

There are, however, signs that it may soon be filled. Yesterday among the people who had audiences with the Pope two names stood out. First, Bishop Domenico Sigalini who is the Bishop of Palestrina. He is the ordinary of the diocese which goes with the vacant Cardinal-Bishop title.

The other name that I noticed was Agostino Cardinal Vallini, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome. I do not mean to suggest that I have any inside information - I do not. But Cardinal Vallini, imo, would be an interesting choice for the vacancy.

In any event, because of the length of the vacancy and the audience with Bishop Sigalini, I suspect that the next fortnight will see this title filled.

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1. I should note that technically Patriarchs that are Cardinals automatically have the rank of Cardinal-Bishop as well, but they rarely have the influence of the suburbican 6.
2. Again I should note that Cardinal Delly was named a Cardinal in the consistory of 2007 and became a Cardinal-Bishop by virtue of his being the Patriarch of Babylon (Chaldean).
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