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Letter from Rome

Is the pope about to announce even more new cardinals?

By Robert Mickens

Everyone loves rumors about upcoming papal appointments. And this is a particularly juicy one that has been floating around the Vatican the past several days: Pope Francis will soon announce further additions to his recently published list of new cardinals.

Let's make it clear from the very start that this is only a rumor. We'll get to the details in a moment. But remember that such a move would not be without precedence.

On Jan. 21, 2001 — shortly after the conclusion of the Great Jubilee of 2000 — Pope John Paul II made the following announcement to the crowd gathered for the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter's Square: "I am happy to announce that on Feb. 21, vigil of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, I will hold a consistory at which, derogating once more from the numerical limit established by Pope Paul VI (…), I will appoint 37 new cardinals."

As is always the case, some people were overjoyed by the names on that list, others were saddened by those that were not.

Many in the Vatican were upset that one who was tapped to receive the red hat was then-Archbishop Crecenzio Sepe, the Neapolitan who oversaw the running of the Holy Year activities, but was criticized (including by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) for turning this great spiritual event into a carnival-like money-making affair. Archbishop Sepe was also only 57 at the time, an age considered to be too young for a Vatican-based cardinal.

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