Pope Francis will create new cardinals on February 14, following a two-day meeting of the world’s cardinals that will discuss reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, among other issues.
The names of the new cardinals are likely to be announced in mid-January, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ has said.
If Pope Francis respects the limit of 120 cardinals under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote for a Pope, he will have 10 such openings in February.
As it stands, the College of Cardinals has 208 members, 112 of whom are under 80. Retired Indonesian Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta will turn 80 December 20 and Italian Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo has his 80th birthday January 3.
On the same occasion, Pope Francis may also follow precedent by creating a number of cardinals over the age of 80, Churchmen being honoured for their contributions to theology or other service to the Church.
In accordance with recent tradition, the Pope will bestow red hats on the new cardinals on February 14 and then celebrate Mass with them in St Peter’s Basilica the next day. His creation of new cardinals will follow a consistory or meeting of the entire College of Cardinals on February 12-13