The Road to "Red Dawn"
That said, don't read anything into it just yet -- like everyone else, the house is still just... anticipating.
With the College of Cardinals' voting membership now nine hats short of its full complement of 120 -- and at least ten more seats to open this year -- 2010 is virtually certain to see a fresh batch of scarlet moiré make the rounds at some point... the only question is when.
As timing goes, the most common and credible possiblities floated so far have been late June's feast of Saints Peter and Paul -- a favorite of John Paul II -- and a late November repeat of the last intake, which took place over Christ the King weekend in 2007.
While a consistory's timing only formally emerges when a pontiff "calls" the gathering and announces the list of cardinals-designate roughly six weeks in advance (i.e. "Red Dawn"), the eventual date tends to make the rounds even further in advance as the College's current members are quietly advised to keep their calendars clear for the summons to Rome... and not just to greet the new class; the first cardinal-dean elected Pope since the 17th century, B16 has added a daylong consultation with his red-hats to the standard program for the days-long event.
Citing unnamed "Vatican experts," Catholic News Agency speculated earlier this week that "an immediate consistory called for by the Pope around the end of February or the beginning of March wouldn't be a surprise" -- but it would be, not to mention that the clock has practically already run out on a timetable of that sort.
As for the even more compelling question -- namely, "Who?" -- the Washington Times' Julia Duin took soundings in the DC daily's pages last week. Still, it's worth recalling here -- and not just as a hypothetical, either -- that the confluence of several variables, many of them unprecedented, means the makeup of the field remains an open question... a very. open. question.
Yesterday saw Anglophone Canada lose its lone vote in a conclave as Toronto's retired Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic reached his 80th birthday. Three more cardinals superannuate before the end of March, and another five by late September.
For all the rest, as always, stay tuned.