Jesuit scholar names Keeler 'long shot' to become cardinal

January 19, 1991|By Frank P. L. Somerville | Frank P. L. Somerville,Religion Editor of The Sun

A Jesuit scholar who is considered an authority on the Roman Catholic Church's methods and criteria for selecting its hierarchy describes Baltimore Archbishop William H. Keeler as a "long shot" candidate for cardinal.

In an article to be published Jan. 26 in America magazine, the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., says Pope John Paul II may appoint as many as 17 cardinals this year, possibly as early as next month.

The prestigious College of Cardinals is the church body that elects popes, and its members are the pope's chief advisers. The number of voting cardinals is limited to 120 under age 80. There are currently 103 such cardinals worldwide.

Topping Father Reese's list of likely candidates among archbishops in the United States is Archbishop Roger M. Mahony, 55, who heads the Catholic Church in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is the U.S. archdiocese with the biggest Catholic population.

Baltimore, the oldest archdiocese in the United States, has had two cardinals in its 200-year history: Archbishops James Gibbons and Lawrence J. Shehan.

"Baltimore probably lost its red hat [a mark of the cardinal rank] when Washington, D.C., was split off as a separate archdiocese," Father Reese writes. He does not point out that the Washington archdiocese was separated from Baltimore in 1947. Cardinal Shehan received his red hat from Pope Paul VI in 1965.

Father Reese says the most likely U.S. candidates for cardinal, after Archbishop Mahony, are Archbishops John L. May of St. Louis, Anthony J. Bevilacqua of Philadelphia and Adam J. Maida of Detroit.

The two "long shots" named by Father Reese are Archbishops Keeler of Baltimore and Patrick Flores of San Antonio.

Archbishop Keeler, 59, when shown the article by Father Reese yesterday, merely laughed and said he could not comment. He succeeded Archbishop Borders as head of the Baltimore Archdiocese in 1989.

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