Church of Eastern Europe Soft Voice at the Conclave

The Catholic Church of Eastern Europe will be somewhat underrepresented at the election of a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. If we take a look at the vast territory between the German border and Vladivostok (Caucasus and Central Asia included), no more than ten Cardinals will participate in the conclave. Four of them are Polish. Three others originate from former Yugoslav republics. Seven are ordinary bishop. The remaining three Cardinals are (former) members of the Roman Curia. Remarkably absent will be the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. With 5,5 to 6 million believers worldwide, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the largest Church of the Oriental Rite in union with Rome.
The reasons for this are two-fold. First, the last few years there have been important changes in the various episcopates in Eastern Europe, which amounted to a rejuvenation of the body of bishops. For example, at his election in 2011, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Sviatoslav Shevchuk (see picture) was only forty years old, while the average age of the Cardinals from Eastern Europe at their elevation was at 58. Second, the political situation in countries like Russia, Belarus and Ukraine is such that the creation of Cardinals might be considered as offensive or problematic.