VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2001 (Zenit.org).-
With John Paul II´s surprise announcement Sunday of seven new cardinals, the College of Cardinals will beat all records.
There never were 185 cardinals, which would be the total number at the Feb. 21 consistory. Of those, 135 will be elector cardinals — those younger than 80 who could vote for a new pope in a conclave.
After Feb. 21, the continent with the most cardinals in a possible conclave will be Europe, with 65 cardinals (48%), 24 of whom are Italian (17%). Then comes America, with 11 U.S. cardinals, two Canadians and 27 Latin Americans. Both Asia and Africa will have 13 elector cardinals, while Oceania will have four.
With the forthcoming consistory, John Paul II will have created a record 201 cardinals. The number of elector cardinals will surpass by 15 the norms ratified by John Paul II himself. That figure might not return to the 120 established by the norms until June 2003; by that time 15 cardinals will have reached their 80th birthday.
In a hypothetical conclave, two-thirds of the votes plus one would correspond to 91 votes. If no cardinal obtains this figure, the future pope might be elected by an absolute majority plus one vote (68 votes).