Tag Archives: titles

“Pro Hac Vice” Titles: History and Trivia.

by Anura Guruge

The plain exterior of San Cesareo in Palatio, the FUTURE “John Paul II’s” deaconry when he was created a Cardinal Priest in June 1967 — 11-years ahead of becoming Pope.

Pro hac vice, in the context of the Catholic Church, is when a Roman deaconry (normally to be assigned to a cardinal deacon) is elevated by the pope, for the time being, to the status of a titular church so that it can be assigned to a newly created Cardinal Priest. So, it means that the Cardinal Priest is getting a deaconry that has been ‘elevated for the duration’ to be a titular church. The Latin pro hac vice meaning “for this occasion only” — designating that it is a temporary elevation. In theory you can also have a pro hac vice situation if the pope decides to assign a titular church to a new created Cardinal Deacon.

Which pope held a pro hac vice title when elected?

John Paul II (#265), when elected pope on October 16, 1978.

From what I can see (and I confess I have not done exhaustive research into this topic) John Paul II was the only pope who has had a pro hac vice title.

Again, from what I can see, there is an easy explanation as to why other popes did not hold pro hac vice titles. I really haven’t had a chance to research the history of pro hac vice (and doubt whether I will get a chance to do so in my lifetime). I had assumed that pro hac vice usage came to be with  Paul VI (#263) given that I could not recall seeing any pro hac vice prior to Paul VI (and my memory isn’t that great when it comes to the histories of individual cardinals). I also thought that the reason why Paul may have come with the idea was rather straightforward. I have now been informed that pro hac vice pre-dates Paul VI — though I don’t have a detailed analysis of its prior usage; i.e., was it mainly in the case of jus optionis promotions. If somebody could do this research, I will be extremely grateful.

Sixtus ‘iron pope’ V (#228), the Franciscan, ex-inquisitor general, on December 3, 1586 in his landmark Postquam verus constitution that set the parameters and tone for the College and curia for the next 350 years did as follows. Four months later, in his Religiosa constitution, he clearly articulated that that there should not be any inter-mingling of titles [i.e., churches] and deaconries.

Between 1586 and 1963, the College was maintained at or below, 70 and there was never a shortage of titles and deaconries. So there was no need for pro hac vice — which is mainly used when a pope runs short of cardinal priest titles (though there is nothing to stop a pope creating a cardinal deacon with a pro hac vice title ‘demoted’ to a deaconry).

The came John XXIII (#262). He was a pope in a hurry, with a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve. Without ever putting down anything in writing that he was overriding Sixtus V, he just waived aside Sixtus V’s time-tested edicts re. the College creating titles and deaconries, in a rush, to accommodate his desire to enlarge and diversify the College. Succeeding popes (other than poor John Paul I (#264) who, alas, didn’t get a chance) have followed John’s example with gusto — with none having, at a minimum, the moral fortitude (if not the necessary anatomical appendages) to set a maximum size for the College (and the orders within it) as did the iron pope — given that setting a ceiling would be seen by prelates as an impediment to their progress up the Church ladder.

So, Paul VI resorted to pro hac vice, when he was short on titles.

At this stage it is worth clarifying that the distinction between Pro hac vice, which means for this occasion, and pro illa vice for that occasion. Given this subtle difference in tense, pro hac vice is said to apply to currently living cardinals, while pro illa vice applies to deceased cardinals. But, this convention isn’t strictly maintained and one can think of both terms as being equivalent.

This now brings us to Cardinal Priest Andrzej Maria Deskur’s death on September 3, 2011 — he having been a cardinal with a pro hac vice title. The next day, our frequent contributor, Louis Epstein left a comment that started: ‘Cardinal Deskur (the Pole to whom JP II gave his own old cardinalitial title after a seven-year vacancy) died yesterday.‘ But, there was an interesting twist here not fully reflected in Louis’ comment. Cardinal Deskur died a cardinal priest, but had been created, by his friend, as a cardinal deacon. Karol Józef Wojtyla (John Paul II) could not have been a cardinal deacon since he was mainly a pastoral cleric with only ‘visiting’ roles in the curia. And that was the rub. Karol Wojtyla was created with a pro hac vice title. At the age of 47 years and one month, Wojtyla, the Archbishop of Kraków since 1964, was the 3rd but last cardinal priest named by Paul VI in his June 26, 1967 consistory at which he created 27 new cardinals. This was Paul’s 2nd cardinal creating consistory, he also having created 27 in his first one in February 1965. Quite a few others at this consistory also got pro hav vice titles.

The deaconry assigned to the future pope was San Cesareo in Palatio (in the palace). The Italians (who should know) claim that this is the wrong name! They say, in the Italian version of Wikipedia: ‘The church of San Cesareo de Appia, commonly and erroneously known as San Cesareo in Palatio , is a church of Rome, in the Celio district , near the port of San Sebastian.’ Hhmmm. You would think that the Vatican (though not in Italy per se) would get this right.

The church, whose current structure is from the 17th century, is not very prepossessing from the outside, does, however, have a rather striking mosaic on the altar wall of God the Father among the angels.

As deaconry, it was left unassigned to a cardinal from April 1939 to December 1958 (those being the good ol’ days when there was no mad scramble for titles to accommodate the never ending Red Tide). Then it was assigned to an Italian cardinal, Francesco Bracci. He held it until until his death on March 24, 1967.

Three months later it was assigned to the Archbishop from Poland. He had it for 11 years. When he became pope, he left it unassigned until May 25, 1985 when it was given to Deskur. In January 1996, Deskur chose to be a cardinal priest per jus optionis given that he had completed the requisite 10 years. He then got San Cesareo pro hac vice.

Will be interesting to see who gets it next. I bet it will be a Pole.

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by Anura Guruge

The ‘Titles’ (Churches In Rome) Assigned To The 17 Cardinals Created November 19, 2016 By Pope Francis.

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE


It is the possession of a title to one of the as such consecrated churches in Rome that makes one a Cardinal. Without a title to a Roman church you cannot be a cardinal.

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by Anura Guruge

Pope Francis’ Newly Appointed PRO-Secretary Of State, Pietro Parolin, Sidelined With Liver Complications! Also NO Camerlengo.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

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Click to read Vatican 'VIS' original from today.

Click to read Vatican ‘VIS’ original from today.

Archbishop Pietro Parolin only became pro, i.e., acting, Secretary of State for the Holy See on October 15, 2013. That was just 10 days ago.

It now appears that he has been in hospital, undergoing surgery, much of that time!

Hepatobiliary‘, stated in the VIS communique above, like ‘hepatitis’, has to do with the liver. So it would appear that he has liver problems. Hhhmmm. Catholics prelates do have a well deserved reputation for being rather partial to expensive liquor (possibly as a reaction for having to maintain a public visage of celibacy).

This is rather awkward for the pope. He has a chunk of his lung missing and now his #2 has major liver problems. Oh, dear. I guess the Vatican vetting process is even worse that that used by John McCain.

Also notice that the VIS communique uses a totally manufactured, new term: ‘Archbishop Secretary of State‘. That is BECAUSE he is not a cardinal — as I pointed out on day one. Nothing wrong. Just something to be aware of.

It also occurred to me that the pope has not appointed a new Camerlengo.

The current Camerlengo, is my favorite, Lord Tarcisio Bertone — who until October 15, 2013 was also the commanding Secretary of State (and I think he did a very good job). On December 2, 2013, Lord Bertone will be 79. He can continue to be Camerlengo till be is 80. So he has another 14 months grace. But, an over-80 Camerlengo is about as useful as an illiterate man in a spelling bee. He can’t enter the conclave — and much of duties are within the conclave! So, keep an eye on that.

It is possible that the Pope might have to replace Parolin. IF so, will be still make cardinal?

Fascinating stuff. Stay tuned.


Until Created Cardinal, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Will Be PRO-Secretary Of State, Holy See, Not Secretary Of State.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

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Click to access original Vatican announcement.

Click to access original Vatican announcement.

In their excitement to break the news the media is losing sight of two key points.

First: Appointment is as of October 15, 2013; not immediate.

Second: Only a CARDINAL can be Secretary of State, Holy See. Pietro Parolin is not a cardinal as yet — though now a cardinalate is guaranteed. ‘Pro-‘, in Latin, means ‘acting’. So until he becomes a cardinal his official title is Pro-. This is true for the heads of nearly all of the important curial dicasteries. You have to be a cardinal in order to officially head them. If not, you can still hold the office, but not the title!

That it is ‘Pro-‘ is not a problem. Quite a few Secretaries of State started off as Pro-, including the current Dean of the College, the holder of three Roman titles (churches), Angelo Sodano.

What is funny is that just yesterday I started thinking about cardinalabili and the next consistory now that my work on comets was coming to an end. November has traditionally been popular for consistories. A November consistory would work. But, then again Pope Francis, not that interested in tradition, might take my recommendation and just have a micro-consistory and just create Parolin.

I, a confirmed pedant, especially when it comes to papal history, just wanted to make sure that we all had the facts right.

I am, of course, sorry to see the departure of ‘my man’, My Lord, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who in my opinion (and I do follow curial politics better than most) was an outstanding Secretary of State. Thank YOU, Lord Bertone for all of your wonderful work, non-stop inspiration and for being a good and decent human being.