Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ireland unlikely to see new cardinal until 2019

Ireland is unlikely to see the appointment of a new cardinal until at least 2019. 

Pope Francis named his first batch of cardinals at the weekend, including 16 under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a Papal election.

The Pope also appointed three so-called ‘honourary’ cardinals who are over the age of 80 including Archbishop Loris Capovilla, the former secretary of Pope John XXIII.


While Armagh’s Cardinal Seán Brady is due to retire as archbishop later this year, he continues to be eligible to vote to elect a new Pope and serve on bodies of the Roman Curia until his 80th birthday. 

While 87-year-old retired Archbishop of Dublin Cardinal Desmond Connell is no longer eligible to serve, he remains a member of the College of Cardinals. 

It was always considered unlikely that the Pope would choose either Archbishop Eamon Martin in Armagh or Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in Dublin since it would be unprecedented for such a small country to have two voting cardinals.

Ireland did briefly have three cardinals from Dr Brady’s appointment in 2007 until the death of Dr Cahal Daly in 2009. 

However, only Cardinal Brady was under 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. It is now considered likely that Ireland will not see the appointment of a new cardinal until at least 2019 when Dr Brady turns 80. 

At this point, Diarmuid Martin will be 74 and a year from retirement as Archbishop of Dublin, and Archbishop Martin in Armagh will be 58 years old and therefore considered a likely candidate.


With the exception of Cardinal Paul Cullen, who as Archbishop of Dublin was appointed a cardinal in 1866, all Irish cardinals have been archbishops of Armagh until Desmond Connell’s elevation to the College of Cardinals in 2001. 

The red hat returned to Armagh in 2007, fuelling speculation that the Holy See may consider rotating the cardinalate between Armagh and Dublin in the future.

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