Ireland misses out on red hat

Ireland misses out on red hat

For the first time in over 40 years, Ireland will not have a vote at a forthcoming conclave following the omission of an Irish prelate from Pope Francis’ new batch of cardinals.

At the weekend, the Pontiff announced that he would create 13 new cardinals on October 5. Ireland lost the right to vote for the next Pope when Cardinal Seán Brady turned 80 last month. In the past, such a milestone has usually been greeted with the appointment of another prelate – usually the Archbishop of Armagh – to the College of Cardinals.

However, the omission of an Irishman from the list means that for the first time since the Papal conclaves of 1978 that saw the elections of John Paul I and St john Paul II, Ireland will not have a representative present in the Sistine Chapel in the event of vacancy of the Apostolic See in the near future.


Ecclesiastical sources point to the belief that Pope Francis prefers to choose cardinals from countries that have never had such a responsibility before such as – in this case – Morocco and Indonesia  rather than relying on convention.

However, Church sources also indicated to The Irish Catholic that the relative youth of Archbishop Eamon Martin (58) of Armagh means that there is every likelihood that he will be included in a future list of prelates tapped to choose Pope Francis’ successor and advise the Pontiff on other key decisions around the governance of the Church.

In all, when the new cardinals are created on October 5, there will be 128 members of the college eligible to vote in a papal conclave. Church law limits the number of cardinals who can enter the conclave to 120.

Ireland’s first cardinal Paul Cullen of Dublin arrived in Rome too late to participate in the conclave that elected Leo XIII in 1878. The next Irish cardinal in a conclave was Cardinal Michael Logue who participated in the election of Pope St Pius X in 1903, Benedict XV in 1914 and Pius XI in 1922.

Cardinal Joseph MacRory participated in the 1939 conclave that elected Pius XII while Cardinal John D’Alton participated in the 1958 conclave that gave the Church Pope St John XXIII. The next Irish cardinal to participate was Dublin’s Desmond Connell in the 2005 election of Benedict XVI while Cardinal Seán Brady participated in the 2013 conclave that brought Pope Francis to office.

Read the full analysis here.