Tag Archives: 1983 Code

Rome, YOU Have A Problem Re. Cardinal Bishop Precedence

Please read the linked post. Anura Guruge

Clause #90 of John Paul II’s (#265) 1996 Universi Dominici Gregis (in the English translation provided by the Vatican), THE current Apostolic Constitution that governs sede vacantes, conclaves and papal elections is at odds with the 1983 Code of Canon Law Canon 355 § 1 (per the English translation provided by the Vatican).

Moreover, Clause #90 of Universi Dominici Gregis is at odds with its own Clause #9! Clause #9, correctly, tries to anticipate the POSSIBILITY that you could have a conclave with no Cardinal Bishops in attendance. Yes, it can happen, in theory. At any one time we only have about 9 Cardinal Bishops, some of them Eastern Rites Patriarchs. Because of the 80 year age limit, vacancies, illness and in the case of the Patriarchs possible travel restrictions could result in a conclave with no Cardinal Bishops. This is NOT a problem. Clause #9 caters for this. Clause #90 does not. But, it appears that in Latin, Clause #9 is rather mangled! It is said to talk about the oldest by birth of the cardinal electors. Suffice to say … there is now confusion and growing agreement that there is indeed some inconsistencies in Universi Dominici Gregis. Please read << this >>.

The 1983 Code was formulated under the auspices of John Paul II, and Universi Dominici Gregis is meant to complement it, not to contradict it (especially with no mention, at all, that it is changing a Canon Law).

The Constitution repeatedly cites various Canons from the 1983 Code, with paragraph three of the Preamble even confirming that that Constitution is to provide for the ‘Special Laws’ cited in Canon 335.

Yes, this is ALL to do with my one man QUEST to find whether the 1731 Clement XII (#247) ruling as to the precedence among Cardinal Bishops, after that of Dean and Sub-Dean, have changed post-1913.

Please refer to these three recent posts and all the links to prior posts contained within them:

1/ Does Italian Cardinal Re Really Have Precedence Over Nigerian Cardinal Arinze? << click here >>

2/ College of Cardinals, The Jus Optionis Preferment Rules << click here >>

3/ Precedence Among Cardinal Bishops — Rationalization << click here >>


I have done everything in my power to get the Vatican to tell me WHEN the rules were changed … such that Cardinal Re now has precedence over Cardinal Arinze (not counting the Dean and Sub-Dean who are both over 80).

Given their stonewalling, I, per my right, am contending that they got it wrong and are loathe to admit it.

Prove me wrong, PLEASE.

That is all I ask.

Just give me the facts, and tell me I was wrong. I will be delighted. All I seek are the facts.

That expression about a British Bull Dog not letting go off a bone in its mouth is really not adequate to describe my tenacity when I am seeking a FACT.

So I continue to gnaw and today my goal was to show that the CURIA is far from infallible.

I already had a list … off the top of my head … but I just wanted to check this one thing … because … I kind of know where to look.


So I can NOW PROVE that the curia has screwed up at least ONCE when it comes to the VERY issue of Cardinal Bishop precedence.

So, I ask again. Prove me wrong.


1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 355 § 1 says:

The cardinal dean is competent to ordain as a bishop the one elected as Roman Pontiff if he needs to be ordained; if the dean is impeded, the assistant dean has the same right, and if he is impeded, the oldest cardinal from the episcopal order.

Canon 355 from http://www.vatican.va on June 11, 2010

Clause #90, paragraph 2 of John Paul II’s 1996 Universi Dominici Gregis (Vatican’s English translation) talking about the very same situation says:
If the newly-elected Supreme Pontiff is not already a Bishop, his episcopal ordination, referred to in Nos. 88 and 89 of the present Constitution, shall be carried out according to the usage of the Church by the Dean of the College of Cardinals or, in his absence, by the Subdean or, should he too be prevented from doing so, by the senior Cardinal Bishop.

Clause #90 from Universi Dominci Gregis from http://www.vatican.va from June 11, 2010

Oldest and Senior are NOT the same.

Right now Cardinal Martins of Portugal is the OLDEST Cardinal Bishop.

But, when it comes to SENIORITY it is either Cardinal Arinze or Re — with me still contending that it is Arinze UNLESS the 1731 law was changed — and if it was … then WHEN (I can work out who the pope would have been).

Yes, John Paul II had the right and the power to unilaterally override the Canon. But, I if he did, there would typically have been some notation about it in the ‘References’ at the end. As it is the 1984 Code is cited thrice in the References section.

My point is simple. In 1983 we had one ruling, in 1996 another.

Yes, I fully understand that it is unlikely that any of us will see a non-bishop elected as pope in our lifetime … but we are talking here about precedence.

This is NOT the only inconsistency in Universi Dominici Gregis. There are others. I mentioned them, diplomatically as possible, in my ‘The Next Pope‘ book. I will now enumerate them in a separate posting because it confirms my contention — the curia drops the ball quite often.

Watch this space.

Anura Guruge