Francis Packs the Conclave

Pope Francis on Sunday announced a consistory for the creation of new cardinals, and it’s a bumper crop. On September 30th, eighteen new red hats will gain voting rights in the next conclave, bringing the total number of electors to 137. Ninety-nine of them have their hats directly from Francis.

With the new creations, as the making of cardinals is officially known, Pope Francis will blast through the soft cap of 120 electors set by his predecessor, Pope St. Paul VI. By this, he may or may not be successful in securing a successor who will preserve and continue his work. But it is abundantly clear now that he is trying—and in a hurry—to secure his legacy.

There will be time to explore in more and greater depth the stuff of that legacy, but one thing Pope Francis certainly has done is to re-open discussions that most, in and around the Church, believed permanently closed—especially regarding the Second Vatican Council.

He has re-ignited controversies and opened battles that had been by all appearances won and lost, over issues ranging from moral theology to liturgy and even the precise structure of governing power in the Church.

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