VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI will host a consistory on February 18-19 to name a series of new cardinals who would have the power to elect his successor, religious news agency I.Media reported on Wednesday.
The pope’s official announcement and the list of nominations are expected next month with at least a dozen senior Vatican officials and bishops from around the world slated to join the Catholic Church’s most exclusive club.
Benedict has named a total of 62 cardinals since becoming pope in 2005.
He could name at least 13 new cardinals and still respect the rule of a maximum of 120 cardinals aged under 80. Cardinals who are 80 or more years old by the time of a conclave are not allowed to take part in voting on a new pope.
The pope is 84 and has seemed weary in recent public appearances, making use of a mobile platform to move around Saint Peter’s basilica. But the Vatican says he is not suffering from any illness and is only showing signs of old age.