Since I posted a theological introduction to cardinal-designate Fr. Karl Josef Becker some weeks back, Fr. Becker has ceased to be cardinal-designate, at least for the time being. A letter saying as much was read two days ago at the community of the Gregorian University in Rome, at which time no reason was given. Subsequently, official Vatican media outlets announced that, “for reasons of health, [Fr. Becker] will not be created cardinal during the public ceremony of February 18, but privately at another time” (per motivi di salute, non verrà creato cardinale nel corso della cerimonia pubblica del 18 febbraio, ma in forma privata in altro momento). Since some who presently live with Fr. Becker have failed to detect any notable frailty or sudden deterioration in his health, the announcement has given rise to perplexity. The mention of a conferral “privately at another time” leaves open the possibility that Fr. Becker will receive the red hat eventually, but the phrase may also serve as a euphemism for an indefinite deferral.
This blogger, for his part, will refrain from speculation on this reversal of Fr. Becker’s fortunes.