The Vatican today confirmed what has been rumoured for some time: a consistory for the creation of cardinals to be held on February 22nd next year.
The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., made the following declaration this morning:
“On the occasion of the meeting of the 'Council of Cardinals' scheduled for early next October (1-3 October) and the subsequent meeting of the Synod Council (7-8 October), the Pope has informed the participants of his intention to convoke a Consistory for the creation of new cardinals on the occasion of the Feast of the Cathedral of St. Peter, 22 February. Pope Francis has decided to communicate his decision to convoke February's Consistory in advance in order to facilitate the planning of other meetings involving the participation of cardinals from different parts of the world.
Indeed, it is foreseen that the Pope, like his predecessors on other occasions, intends for the Consistory to be preceded by a meeting of the College of Cardinals.
Before this meeting – scheduled for the 17 and 18 February – there will take place the third meeting of the 'Council of Cardinals' (the so-called 'Eight Cardinals'), while after the Consistory, on 24 and 25 February, there will be the meeting of the Synod Council.
The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals for economic and organisational matters of the Holy See (the so-called 'Council of Fifteen') is expected to be scheduled as in previous years for the month of February, probably during the preceding week”.
Possible candidates for a "red hat" in the U.S. include Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles.
In the Vatican, very probable candidates are the new Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Mueller.
The Church in the UK has been without a non-retired cardinal, eligible to vote in a conclave, for some time. A leading candidate for a red hat there is Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.