Tag Archives: Cardinal Bishops

Cardinals Filoni & Ouellet Are Now The Leading Contenders To Be The Next Pope, i.e., Papabile.

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE.


Do NOT forget that I got the ‘Next Pope’ RIGHT in 2013.

Click image to access the original 2013 post on THIS bog.


Click to ENLARGE. From my ‘The Next Pope 2011’ book. Click on image at the bottom to get a copy.


Timing is everything, because age is of paramount concern, as to who will be the Next Pope post Francis. So, it all depends on when the next Conclave is likely to occur. Pope Francis is 81 and appears to be in reasonable health. But, he has hinted, more than once, that he too, like Benedict XVI before him, might retire — when the time is right. The question is such a retirement on the cards over the next 24 – 36 months?

Two CONFLICTING ‘data points’ on this. Following his cardinal-creating consistory last week he had 125 cardinal electors. Per current law only 120 cardinal electors can participate in a conclave. Bar deaths of electors, this 125 number will not drop to 120 till July 2019. That would mean that the pope does not plan to retire prior to July 2019 — though he can increase that 120 limit in a matter of seconds (even during/after his resignation speech). But, then, he also created the four new IRREGULAR Cardinal Bishops. The ONLY need for this was the possibility of an imminent conclave. So, that is confusing — and I did address that in this post.

OK? So, I refuse to look much more than 3-years ahead.

So, now let me explain the AGE criteria. As of hurried election of John Paul II (following the unexpected death of 33-day pope, John Paul I) when he was 58-years of age, the cardinals, understandably, have opted for older popes. Bluntly put, in the absence of any term limits (and any requirement for a pope to retire), the cardinals do not want another pope who will reign for for 20 – 30 years (despite the success of John Paul II’s pontificate). So, the last two popes have been 76 and 78 years of age. I had said that age would be a factor the last time around — and I was right. I now content, emphatically, that age again will be a primary factor. It is unlikely that the next pope will be much younger than 75.


Other Given Caveats Per My Recokening (and these are NOT negotiable). {Smile}

The Next Pope per Anura Guruge will be:

  • White.
  • A non-American (as in say Seán Patrick O’Malley).
  • A non-Jesuit.
  • A proven institutionalist, i.e., one who has a firm track record of upholding Vatican (rather than Catholic per se) values and protocols.

‘European’, or at least, as in the case of Marc Ouellet one who has spent much of their priestly life in Rome working for the Curia.


Marc Ouellet, despite being considerably younger, was my #1 papabile last time around. And I acknowledged that age was an issue.

Over the next 3-years his age would be GOLDEN.

Marc, simply put, is BELOVED and respected to a level that is uncanny. That he is Canadian will not be a factor. Canada is a ‘neutral’ (unthreatening) country and moreover Marc has spent so much time in Rome that he is a honorary Italian.

So, why do I have him as #2 rather than my first pick again.

He, alas, is RELIGIOUS, though, thankfully, not a Jesuit (Francis, the first). Cardinals tend to shy away from Religious Order candidates and Francis, with his supplication to the Jesuits, did not help matters. I will go as far as saying that the ONLY religious that is papabil is Marc!


Some of you will correctly contend that their unprecedented promotion to (irregular) Cardinal Bishops make them very much Francis’ stooges and that will cause them to be blackballed because Francis is not that popular among the College. NOT so in the case of these two. They were both created cardinals ahead of Francis — and have been untainted by Francis.

But, right now Filoni is a tad too young. His star will truly be in the ascend around 2021 when he is 75.

Enough for now. Digest what I have said.

Thank you.


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by Anura Guruge

Pope Francis Demeans The EASTERN Cardinal Patriarchs And Denotes That They Are 2nd Class Citizens!

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE.


This was WHAT it was all about. Prior to the creation of the 4 IRREGULAR Cardinal Bishops, Cardinal Rai was the MOST senior UNDER-80 cardinal! Base data from “Gcatholic.org” which is run by a friend.


Click to ENLARGE. From my ‘The Next Pope 2011’ book. Click on image at the bottom to get a copy.


Click to ENLARGE and read here. Wikipedia: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Béchara_Pierre_Raï



Pope Francis has much in common with Donald Trump. Deep down they both have well-entrenched racist inclinations however much they might try to deny and deflect.

Last week’s uncalled for creation of the 4 HIGHLY ‘irregular’ Cardinal Bishops was proof positive.

The ONLY — and I stress ONLY — rationale for this extraordinary decision by Francis was his FEAR that a NON-WHITE, Eastern Cardinal Patriarch would officiate as the DEAN of the College of Cardinals at the next conclave.

Just like Trump and the Obama ‘birther’ conspiracy. As far as Francis is concerned non-whites are ‘OK’ if they are kept in their place, BUT there is NO WAY that he will have a non-white be in charge of a conclave — and in this case, literally over his dead body.

He might as well have flipped a BIRD at the Eastern, non-white Cardinal Patriarchs. YIKES. Not a nice man. Like Trump, just a bigoted old man who needs to lose a ton of weight.

Am I upset? What do YOU think? I am non-white. I endure abuse, discrimination and persecution daily. Yes, so I will say #METOO!

I had to write this. As a non-white the only power I have is that of the pen.

Pax.


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by Anura Guruge

Pope Francis Appears To Be Confused As To Conclave Protocols Related To Cardinals.

by Anura Guruge


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The ONLY logical rationale for Pope Francis creating his four ‘IRREGULAR’ Cardinal Bishops last week was to set the groundwork for the NEXT conclave. I get that.

But, at the same time he was creating these four ‘irregulars’ he EXCEEDED the Cardinal Elector limit by 5! Ahhh?

To I, Pope Francis is like President Donald Trump. They both LOVE being what they are, but, alas, have little understanding or appreciation of the office they hold.

Pope Francis definitely seems at sea about conclave protocols.

Somebody obviously told him that you had to have at least one Cardinal Bishop at a conclave. NOT TRUE. The senior most Cardinal Patriarch or Priest would have deputized as the Dean. That is a GIVEN. That is what precedence in the College of Cardinals is all about.

So, PLEASE, let’s get this straight once and for all. You do NOT need to have any Cardinal Bishops at a conclave. Period. The rules of precedence will apply and the senior most cardinal will do the duties. I can refer you to an excellent book with all of the rules clearly spelled out. That is how I learnt all this stuff.

On the other hand, EXCEEDING the 120 limit for cardinal electors CANNOT be circumvented — per the current laws.

Barring deaths it will be July 2019 before the cardinal elector number again drops to the permissible 120.

IF a conclave was to occur while we had more than 120 electors we would be in uncharted territory.

Current laws ONLY permit 120 electors to attend.

Yes, of course, the Pope, like Trump, can take care of this, in minutes, with an ‘Executive Order’. All he has to say is that henceforth the elector limit for conclaves is 125 — or whatever number he wants. He could even remove the limit completely.

If he was savvy he would have taken care of this at the same time he created the 4 irregulars. Then everything would have been copacetic for the next conclave.

But, NO. Like Trump, Francis likes to rule by chaos.


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by Anura Guruge

The 4 ‘Irregular’ Cardinal Bishops Created By Pope Francis On June 28, 2018.

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE.


Click to ENLARGE. The Vatican announcement on June 26, 2018. From the Vatican, of course.


I was vacationing in Acadia last week and only heard about this ‘irregularity’ when a follower of this blog asked for my opinion on the matter via a comment. I looked it up. My first reaction was shock and disappointment. This iconoclastic pope had arbitrarily put asunder a much cherished and venerated tradition going back to 769 AD (i.e., 1,249 years ago). One of my ex papal collaborators talking about this in an e-mail characterized it as: “how the never-met-an-applecart-he-wouldn’t-upset Pope“.

Click to ENLARGE. From my ‘The Next Pope 2011’ book. Click on image at the bottom to get a copy.


But, then I got thinking and Acadia, where I hike incessantly, is a great place to ponder such things.

What is upsetting ‘us’ is the change because whatever folks say most people don’t at heart believe in “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“. So, I decided to look beyond just the disconcertment caused by this change.

Yes, of course, the seven suburbicarian sees, i.e., the seven Catholic dioceses surrounding Rome, are real, but that in the end is also somewhat artificial in the scheme of things post 1163 when Pope Alexander III (#171) introduced the notion of TITULAR cardinals, i.e., cardinals that were assigned a ‘Roman’ dioceses though they were NOT the bishop of that diocese. Today, (and I have not checked of late) nearly every cardinal, irrespective of whether a Cardinal Bishop, Cardinal Priest or Cardinal Deacon, is TITULAR, i.e, they do not actually perform any day-to-day diocesan duties in the see that has been given to them. This becoming the case for ALL the suburbicarian sees and their Cardinal Bishops as of 1910. So, as of 1163 the entire notion of cardinals has been compromised, diluted and abstracted. So, to I, that was the beginning of a very slippery road (with many arcane twists and turns). This move by Pope Francis just another of those twists.

Furthermore, the stratification of the cardinals is purely for ceremonial purposes, i.e., who goes ahead of another in processing and when they vote at a conclave. Other than that, when it comes to power and influence, all cardinals are meant to be equal. So, there is that.

Then there is the whole ‘Rome has spoken, case is closed‘ aspect. The pope is the world’s ultimate autocrat. When it comes to Catholicism and the Catholic Church he can really do whatever he wants. There are no checks and balances. The College of Cardinals CANNOT veto a papal decision. Moreover, of all matters Catholic, there is nothing more arbitrary and capricious as the College of Cardinals. Popes CREATE cardinals — and that it is called ‘creates’ is very significant. The College is also very much a creation of the popes. The popes can do whatever when it comes to cardinals and the College.

Pope Paul VI (#263) in 1970 decreed that cardinals over the age of 80 could no longer participate in conclaves. That was an artificial restriction. Three years later he mandated that only 120 cardinals can participate in a conclave. Since then every succeeding pope (bar the 33-day John Paul I (#264) has exceeded the 120 cardinal elector limit though we have yet to have a conclave when that number has been greater than 120. So, popes have had their merry way with the College.

This is but the latest example. So, after much reflection, I came to the conclusion that while it is ‘irregular’ there is nothing wrong with what the pope did!

I, however, will have more posts on this topic since there are other implications.


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by Anura Guruge

College of Cardinals and the Dean of the College of Cardinals.

by Anura Guruge


Vatican on the College of Cardinals at http://www.vatican.va.


1148 was the first time that the then cardinals, about 50 in total, started using the term ‘The Sacred College of Cardinals.

1150 was when Pope Eugene III (#168) created the College of Cardinals — with a Dean.

What I have already said:

College of Cardinals from page 106 of ‘The Next Pope’ by Anura Guruge

Typically, I am the first to admit that I maybe wrong. Fallibility has been my faithful handmaiden throughout my life.

However, in this instance, I have checked, double checked etc. etc., since c. 2007. 1148-1150 is solid for when the College was formed. Even Sacrosanct.

Since the Dean only came to be with the College, there was no Dean of the College prior to 1150.

Yes, we have had a Cardinal Bishop of Ostia since at least the 3rd century. But, the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia was not the Dean till post 1150 — and even then there were inconsistencies.

OK?

So just because you see reference on the Web to so and so having been the Dean of the College of Cardinals in 1087 (or whatever) … PLEASE don’t send me e-mails telling me that I screwed up. Yes, I screw-up. But, I do my best to fix my screw-ups as soon as I discover that I have screwed up.

So PLEASE. If you see references like this, contact the ‘author’ of that Web site. Not me. Deal?

Click to ENLARGE. Difficult to be the Dean when there was NO College!


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by Anura Guruge

Cardinal Bishops Elected Pope (as of 769).

by Anura Guruge


The 897 ‘cadaver synod’ involving Formosus (#112), the first cardinal bishop to be elected pope.


There have been 29 cardinal bishops elected pope since 769.

The last pope, Benedict XVI (#266), is the latest of those 29. Prior to him it was Pius VIII (#254) in 1829 — a 176 year gap with 12 intervening popes.

I was surprised that there had been 29. I thought, before I started compiling the list, that the number would be in the low 20s — comparable to the 22 cardinal deacons elected pope.

EXISTING BISHOPS BECOMING THE BISHOP OF ROME (i.e., the Pope)

Please refer to the cardinal deacons post, (earlier today), for why I use 769 as the start date when it comes to ‘cardinals.’ Coincidentally, probably providentially, 769 also happens to be the year that the term ‘cardinal bishop’ (episcopi cardinals), was introduced into ‘Rome speak,’ in the context of a weekly roster of hebdomadarii bishops who would conduct Mass on Sundays at St. Peter’s, in rotation. [Pages 85 & 105 of ‘The Next Pope‘ book.]

Please study the ‘edibility to be pope’ table in the cardinal deacons post.

Note that the seminal 769 synod pointedly excluded cardinal bishops from being elected pope.

This was NOT a mistake or oversight. There was a very sound rationale for this exclusion — the prohibition against clerical, and in particular bishopric, transfers, codified way back in 325 at the pivotal First Council of Nicaea [Turkey], convened and presided over by no other than Emperor Constantine the Great [who legitimized Christianity].

In December of 882, John VIII (#108), a pope with a penchant for dabbling in secular politics, was murdered — poisoned and then clubbed until he was dead, supposedly by members of his retinue, possibly even relatives. Two days after John VIII’s murder, Marinus I (#109), the Bishop of Caere [~30 miles NNW of Rome], was elected pope. He was the first bishop to be elected pope. He was not, however, a cardinal bishop. [Page 45, ‘The Next Pope.‘]

Formosus (#112), the unfortunate subject of the despicable 897 ‘cadaver synod,’ was the first cardinal bishop to be elected pope — in 891. One of the ‘crimes’ he was accused of, albeit when he was a cadaver, was the ‘translation of bishops,’ i.e., the bishop of one see becoming the bishop of another, even if it was the see of Rome.

WHY THERE HAVEN”T BEEN MORE CARDINAL BISHOPS ELECTED POPE

Prior to 1059, the prevailing laws and traditions precluded cardinal bishops from being elected pope, though as is always the case in papal history, three cardinal bishops, starting with Formosus, were elected pope between 769 and 1059.

There can only be 6 (and at one time 7) cardinal bishops, at any one time — so they are not as numerous as cardinal priests or even cardinal deacons.

At least of late (i.e., the last few centuries), the cardinal bishops may have been older than the norm.

Cardinal bishops, given their seniority, may have had closer links to prior popes, especially the most recently deceased, which made them less attractive. [However, in the case of the current pope, Benedict XVI, it was indeed this close relationship with the prior pope that made him attractive to the cardinal electors.]

THE LIST OF CARDINAL BISHOPS ELECTED POPE (AS OF 769)

Click to ENLARGE.

Notes and explanations follow.

In the ‘Seq #’ field a YELLOW background denotes successive pope, while the GREEN background denotes papacy that occurred close together.

In the ‘created’ field, the [O] for ‘order,’ indicates B=bishop, P=priest & D=deacon.

‘Xs’ field portrays transfers within the College. Please refer to this post about jus optionis preferment rules within the College. In the ‘x+y’ notation, the first number refers to transfers prior to becoming a cardinal bishop while the second number refers to the number of moves between suburbicarian sees while a cardinal bishop — though this number does NOT include getting Ostia upon becoming the Dean of the College of Cardinals. The YELLOW background indicates noteworthy exceptions. Leo XI requested five separate transfers while a cardinal priest. On February 14, 1592, he opted for one title then changed his mind and opted for another! A ‘P’ indicates elevation from cardinal deacon to cardinal priest, while ‘C’ denotes a title awarded ‘in commendam,’ please refer to <this post>.

As of 1150, when the College was formed, the Dean of the College was supposed to get Ostia. But this did not come to be, in a consistent manner, till much, much later. The BLUE background highlight scenarios when Ostia was not properly assigned, or assigned prior to the cardinal bishop becoming the Dean.

NOTES 1 & 2: Formosus and Silvester III held these sees, viz. Porto and Sabina, in two very distinct periods of time. In the case of the latter, he went back to be the Cardinal Bishop of Sabina when he was ousted as being pope! Formosus was excommunicated in 876 and eventually exiled. Marinus, the first bishop to transfer into Rome, reinstated him!


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by Anura Guruge

College of Cardinals: The Jus Optionis Preferment Rules.

by Anura Guruge


Role of cardinals in papal elections, culled from Anura Guruge’s ‘The Next Pope’ book. Click to ENLARGE.


Precedence (or seniority) within the College of Cardinals is artificial and basically to do with status and standing, particularly so when it comes to ceremonial purposes — given that as of 1962 all cardinals, unless explicitly exempted by a pope, have to be consecrated bishops (and as such are, in the main, distinguished senior prelates to begin with). Precedence thus determines factors such as the order in which ballots are cast during a conclave and who gets to go ahead of whom when paying homage to a newly elected pope.

Precedence is based on the three ‘orders’ of cardinalate, viz. bishops, priests and deacons – in descending order, starting with the cardinal bishops, with the Dean and Sub-Dean of the College (who are always cardinal bishops) being the most senior.

Each new cardinal is created within one of the three orders based on his then ecclesiastical function. Cardinals appointed from dioceses, around the world, typically bishops or archbishops, are made cardinal priests. Curial officials and eminent theologians are created as cardinal deacons. The most senior of curial officials (in some cases retired) are assigned to one of the six suburbicarian sees – thus making them (along with any Eastern Rites Patriarchs) cardinal bishops.

Since the early thirteen century there has, however, been a preferment mechanism, known as jus optionis (right of option), which enabled the senior most cardinals to move up to a higher order when titles became vacant (or even move to different titles within the same order) – subject, of course, to papal approval. This enabled cardinals gain precedence, or in the case of a transfer within an order, to be associated with more ‘desirable’ title – ‘desirable,’ in this case, most likely having to do with the potential revenues/assets, status or location of a title.

The pope, however, has always had the power and the right to promote cardinals, unilaterally, independent of jus optionis. A curial cardinal deacon if appointed as Archbishop (or possibly the Patriarch of Venice or Lisbon) will most likely, possibly even ‘automatically,’ be elevated to being a cardinal priest — with a fairly good chance that his existing deaconry will be elevated, for the duration of his tenure, pro hac vice into a title. [Refer to this post for more on pro hac vice elevations.] Italian Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe (b. June 2, 1943) provides a recent example of this. In February 2001 he was created a cardinal deacon while holding a curial post. Two months later he was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In May 2006, Benedict XVI named him the Metropolitan Archbishop of Naples [Italy]. He was at the same time elevated to a cardinal priest, his deaconry, Dio Padre misericordioso, elevated to a title pro hac vice.

John XXIII Changed The Rules In 1961
In 1961, John XXIII (#262), with his Ad Suburbicarias Dioeceses motu proprio, overrode the jus optionis scheme that had been in place since 1586. Per Ad Suburbicarias Dioeceses the senior most cardinal priest or deacon no longer had the right to opt for a vacant suburbicarian see [i.e., to seek promotion to be a cardinal bishop]. Henceforth, the filling of a vacant suburbicarian see would be a prerogative of the pope, who could do so by creating a new cardinal or by promoting any of the existing cardinals, irrespective of their seniority.

John, with his characteristic flair, demonstrated the new norm by immediately promoting Cardinal Giuseppe Antonio Ferretto to be a Cardinal Bishop [of the see of Sabina e Poggio Mirteto] – though he, having been created a cardinal priest just three months prior, was the most junior of the cardinals.

This decree by John is still the prevailing norm.

This was another one of John’s very incisively astute moves. It ensured that he, and hopefully his successors if they too were so inclined, could globalize the highest echelons of the College. Between 1900 and 1961 there had only been ONE non-Italian cardinal bishop, that being France’s hugely talented and bearded Eugène Tisserant [1884-1972]. Since John’s ruling, 11 of the 25 cardinal bishops have been non-Italian.

In total there have been 60 cardinal bishops since 1900. 48 have been Italian. So John’s change to jus optionis has made quite a difference.

Of these 60 cardinal bishops since 1900, none were created cardinal bishops to begin with, though the pope had always had the option of creating cardinal bishops, provided that there were vacant suburbicarian sees, even prior to the 1961 edict. The last time a pope appeared to have created a cardinal bishop was in April 1449 when Nicholas V (#209) made his one-time rival, antipope Felix (V), the Bishop of Santa Sabina, when the antipope renounced his title and retracted his prior condemnations. [It is possible that there have been other cardinal bishop creations since then, but I have yet to find them, in what, at best, has been somewhat cursory, haphazard research. Come on, there is only so much I can look into at any one time. Working on about five parallel streams right now.]

In 1914, Pius X (#258), had made a smaller change to jus optionis – albeit this time overriding a right that had existed from the original thirteen century rules. As of 1914 there would be no inter-see translations for the cardinal bishops – albeit with Ostia always being assigned to the new Dean, per the by then well entrenched tradition. Pius X also pooled together the assets and revenues of all seven suburbicarian sees and decreed that these would be centrally managed via the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith. The suffragan (‘auxillary’) bishops, tasked with administering these sees as of 1910, were each assigned an annual of remuneration of 6,000 lire (~US $1,200 per then exchange rate). The remaining income was then divided into seven parts, the Dean getting two of these (for his two sees) and the other five bishops one part each.

Meteoric Elevations Prior To John XXIII’s 1961 Rule Change
The first half of the twentieth century appears to have been a great time to have been a cardinal. The maximum size of the College, per Sixtus V’s (#228) landmark 1586 Postquam verus constitution, was being maintained at 70 (until John XXIII serenely dismissed this cap at his very first consistory in 1958). To have less than 65 cardinals was not unusual during this era. Pius XII (#261), in particular, was unusually parsimonious when it came to creating cardinals, only creating 56 during his nearly 20 year (235 month) papacy. << Read this article >> At the end of Pius XII’s reign there were only 53 cardinals.

The near constant vacancies within the College during this period permitted cardinals to exploit jus optionis to rise very quickly through the ranks, particularly if you were an Italian cardinal living in or around Rome. [In 1939 35 of the 62 cardinals were Italian].

Italian Cardinal Gennaro Granito Pignatelli di Belmonte was created a cardinal priest in November 1911. He opted to become a cardinal bishop, four years later, in December 1915.

Italian Cardinal Francesco Marchetti Selvaggiani was created a cardinal priest on June 30, 1930. He opted to be a cardinal bishop on June 15, 1936.

The above mentioned French cardinal Eugène Tisserant went from cardinal deacon to cardinal bishop in just under 10 years between 1936 and 1946.

Italian Benedetto Aloisi Masella was created a cardinal priest in February 1946. He opted to be a cardinal bishop in June 1948. He was a cardinal priest for but 28 months.

Italian Clemente Micara was created a cardinal priest on February 18, 1946. He opted to be a cardinal bishop, of Velletri, but also retaining his original title (at the indulgence of the pope), on June 13, 1946. He was a cardinal priest for 146 days!

Jus Optionis In The 1983 Code Of Canon Law
The jus optionis rulings of Pius X and John are now reflected in Canon 350 §5 & §6.

Per this Canon, cardinal priests may transfer to another title and cardinal deacons to another diaconia – based on seniority and papal approval.

A cardinal deacon with ten full years of tenure can request to be made cardinal priest – with his precedence within the new order being based on his original day of creation. This option of getting promoted to the presbyteral order [i.e., priestly] is very popular and has been widely used – cardinals, since 1961, no longer having the right to seek promotion to the episcopal [i.e., bishopric] order.

Suffice to say that as of 1961 elevation within the College has been more sedate and more cosmopolitan.

The Evolution of Jus Optionis
The major milestones when it comes to jus optionis are as follows:

> Early thirteenth century: the original rules come to be.

1555Paul IV (#224), with his Cum venerabiles constitution, specifies new rules for the Dean and Cardinal deacons.

> 1586: Sixtus V (#228), with his far-reaching Postquam verus constitution, lays out more stringent requirements for cardinal deacons and their preferment – possibly, in part, to atone for the creation of his fourteen year old grand-nephew who as far as can be seen was never ordained, though he went on to become a cardinal bishop

> 1731: Clement XII (#247) formulated the precedence structure for the College.

1914: The Pius X change discussed above.

1961: The pivotal John XXIII change discussed above.


1965: Paul VI (#263) dictates that Dean and Sub-Dean should be elected from within the ranks of cardinal bishops by the cardinal bishops rather than it being based on seniority. See reference ‘2/’ at the bottom.

1984: The new Code of Canon Law with Canon 350 §5 & §6 as discussed above.

The Initial Thirteenth Century Rules
Whenever a cardinalate was vacant, the most senior of the cardinals residing in or around Rome could opt for that title. In the case of cardinal bishops, they could, per this scheme, opt for one (and only one) transfer of bishopric during their lifetime – albeit with Ostia always reserved for the Dean.

Cardinal priests and cardinal deacons could use this option either within their order or, more significantly, to opt for a title in a higher order.

These rules made sense within the context of that time, bearing in mind:

1/ The College of Cardinals was still rather new, having only come to be as of 1150.

2/ It was only between 1139 and 1179 that all cardinals, irrespective of their order, got the right to vote in papal elections.

3/ The notion of non-resident titular cardinals had only really come to pass as of 1163.

It is, however, also worth noting that it this juncture, of the cardinals residing in and around Rome, only the cardinal bishops would have been consecrated bishops. Many of the cardinal deacons were unlikely to have been priests.

1555 Paul IV & 1586 Sixtus V Changes
Paul IV deemed that the most senior [i.e., earliest consecrated] cardinal bishop residing in or around Rome would automatically become the new Dean of the College of Cardinals (whenever that vacancy arose).

This constitution also modified jus optionis rules so that a cardinal deacon with ten years of tenure would get precedence when it came to preferment over cardinal priests created since his creation – provided that his ‘opting up’ would not reduce the number of cardinals deacons in the College to less than ten.

Sixtus V, in 1586, deemed that one needed to be at least 22 years old in order to be created a cardinal deacon and, moreover, be prepared to be ordained within a year of their creation. If they did not satisfy the ordination criteria, they would (in theory) lose their appointment. Upon being ordained, a cardinal deacon would be re-assigned as a cardinal priest (with a new title) – but only when a new cardinal deacon was created to backfill the resulting vacancy. [As in 1555, there appears to have been an underlying concern about depleting the ranks of cardinal deacons.]

The jus optionis preferment rules were also updated to state that cardinal deacons must have ten years of tenure before they could request a vacant suburbicarian see [i.e., be a cardinal bishop]. However, the cardinal protodeacon [i.e., the earliest created], provided that he was 30 years or older, could opt for a suburbicarian see if it became vacant for a third time since his creation.

In 1731 Clement XII formulated the now familiar rules of precedence within the College. Seniority within the two lower ranks is based on the date of creation (even after a jus optionis preferment to the order of priest), whereas in the case of the bishops, it is determined per the date of episcopal consecration.

Then came the 1914, 1961 and 1984 updates.

In 1965, Paul VI (#263), decreed that seniority would no longer be the basis for who would be the Dean and Sub-Dean of the College of Cardinals when these posts became vacant (though this long standing tradition had been incorporated into the 1917 Code of Canon Law). Instead, when a new Dean or Sub-Dean was required, the cardinals bishops would elect one from among their ranks – independent of seniority, albeit subject to the person elected being approved by the pope.


Also refer to these four related articles:

1/ Precedence Among Cardinal Bishops – Rationalization << click here >>


2/ Precedence Among Cardinal Bishops << click here >> Reference here to the 1965 ruling for the election of the Dean and Sub-Dean.


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by Anura Guruge