VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2001 (ZENIT.org).- The Vatican explained today why John Paul II waited a week before announcing seven new cardinals for the upcoming consistory.
On Sunday, John Paul II surprised the world by adding seven names, including two he had previously chosen secretly, to the list of cardinals he will create in the Feb. 21 consistory. A week earlier he announced the names of 37 other cardinals-to-be.
His decision to announce the list in two stages was unprecedented, and triggered a flurry of comments in the press. Today, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls gave an official reply, in statements to the Italian news agency ANSA.
“Certainly the announcement of a consistory on two occasions is an original procedure, but the Pope had already decided on all the names the first Sunday,” the director of the Vatican Press Office said.
“It all hinges on the appointment of Husar,” he added, referring to the newly elected archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics of Lviv.
On Jan. 21, in the first round of announcements, the Pope could not name Archbishop Lubomyr Husar as a new cardinal, because the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics had not yet named Husar a bishop. In the case of these Oriental Churches, the bishops are named by the synod, and the Bishop of Rome is limited to giving his consent. In this case the Vatican was unable to announce Archbishop Husar´s elevation to cardinal before Jan. 26.
And to avoid announcing only one name in a second phase, John Paul II decided to reserve four other names, in addition to the two he had previously selected “in pectore.”
“However, all these names had already been decided the previous Sunday and are part of a global design,” Navarro-Valls added.