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A consistory by the end of 2023?
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By the end of the year, the number of cardinal electors in a future conclave will drop to 114 from the current 123. Nine cardinals will turn 80 in the coming months, thus losing their chance to participate in a forthcoming papal election.

Making predictions about Pope Francis - it is well-known - is virtually impossible. However, IF the pontiff decides to preside over a new consistory during 2023, in that case, two possible dates could be either the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul - June 29 - or the Solemnity of Christ the King, which this year falls on November 26.

Within the Roman Curia - currently - two Prefects are not counted among the College of Cardinals: Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches, and Archbishop Robert F. Prevost, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

In June, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Archbishop Emeritus of Naples, will turn 80 years old: this might suggest that a hypothetical list of new cardinals could include his successor, Archbishop Domenico Battaglia, one of the Italian bishops most held in high regard by Pope Francis.

Another Italian prelate highly regarded by the Pope is the current Bishop of Verona, Monsignor Domenico Pompili. And the failure to grant the purple to the Patriarch of Venice could be balanced by the cardinalate given to Pompili, thus restoring weight to the Triveneto ecclesiastical region.

Staying in Europe, the reasoning proposed for Naples could also apply to the Archdiocese of Prague. Cardinal Duka, Archbishop Emeritus of the Czech capital, will soon turn 80, and his successor Monsignor Jan Graubner could, in turn, be co-opted into the Sacred College.

Another name to remember is Vilnius Archbishop Gintaras Grusas, the current president of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences.

In 2023 Asia will lose only one Cardinal elector: Archbishop Emeritus of Seoul Andrew Yeom Soo-Jung. Again, the possibility that the purple could be awarded to current Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taek is not remote.

Turning to Latin America, Brazil has six cardinal electors: one curial and five residential. The Pope could probably look to Peru, where a cardinalate for Archbishop of Lima Carlos Gustavo Castillo Mattasoglio would not be a surprise, and Colombia, which is currently represented within the College of Cardinals only by the over-80-year-old Pedro Rubiano Saenz, Jorge Jimenez Carvajal and Ruben Salazar Gomez. In this case, the choice could fall to the Archbishop of Bogota, Luis José Rueda Aparicio.

Africa will also lose a vote in a future conclave in 2023 with the departure of Malian Cardinal Jean Zerbo, Archbishop of Bamako. South Sudan, Angola, and Mozambique churches are candidates for an African purple.

Finally, here is Oceania. Australia, to date, is not represented in the College of Cardinals, either with electors or over-80s. The two potential candidates for the cardinalate would appear to be Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Andrew Comensoli and Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Colin Fisher.

Author Name

Journalist based in Rome. He worked for 'Area' Press Agency, dealing with internal politics, economics but above all with the Vatican. Accredited at the Press Office of the Holy See, professional journalist since 2008, he followed the conclaves of 2005 and 2013. Currently works for ACI Stampa, EWTN News agency in Italian. He is the author, together with his colleague Andrea Gagliarducci, of "La Quaresima della Chiesa", and "Benedetto XVI, a total Pope".

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