Tag Archives: Cardinal Law

Does Italian Cardinal Re Really Have Precedence Over Nigerian Cardinal Arinze?

by Anura Guruge

Please read the linked post. Anura Guruge

I still can’t find any reference as to whether the 1731 precedence rules for cardinal bishops got changed at some point post-1913. I have faxed and emailed the Vatican. The head of the Vatican Library gave me the fax number for Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, Secretary to the College of Cardinals, and told me to ask him. I did over two weeks ago. I contacted the Holy See Permanent Delegation to the U.N. in New York. I solicited help from two other archbishops. NOTHING.

So, as ever, I have a theory. Maybe I have unearthed a can of worms. MAYBE, the folks had forgotten about the 1731 rule as it applied to cardinal bishops. Lets face it. I have found enough folks who claim to be experts on papal and cardinal stuff that did not know of it. One tried to brush it off as ‘the obscure 1731 ruling.’ Very amusing. That obscure 1731 ruling was what set ALL rules of precedence vis-à-vis the College of Cardinals. So it can’t be that obscure. So my current theory. The 1731 rule was possibly never changed! Hey, it is MY THEORY. Prove me wrong.

Just in case you are new to this please start by reading this post … and the links referenced therein.

The August 1978 conclave, that elected John Paul I (#264), is of particular interest because it was the first instance where both the Dean and Sub-Dean could not participate in a conclave because they were beyond the 80 year cut-off that came into play as of January 1, 1971. The same was true at the October 1978 conclave, but I am willing to believe and concede that whatever took place in the first conclave got repeated at this conclave since the cast of characters was 98% the same. [Both the Dean, the now pope, and the Sub-Dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano attended the 2005 conclave.]

Until I started to question the precedence issue, it had been taken as a given that the chain-smoking, French Cardinal, Jean-Marie Villot, the Camerlengo and the Secretary of State to the deceased Pope, i.e., Paul VI (#263), had deputized for the Dean (and Sub-Dean). Yes, I myself, state this in my book — because I went by what I had found in other sources. But since I have started question the precedence issue I have emails to prove that the so called definitive lists on who attended the 1978 conclaves might be in doubt!

Given conclave secrecy what do we ACTUALLY know as to who deputized as Dean at the August 1978 conclave.

We actually know very little. Go look. Hardly anybody mentions the Dean or Sub-Dean, or that they had to be deputized, in the context of this conclave.

In this post I enumerate all the duties of the Dean (or his deputy) during a a conclave.

Start looking. All we know, and the original source here appears to be Andrew M. Greely in his 1979 ‘The Making Of the Popes 1978,’ is that Villot is SUPPOSED to have asked Albino Luciani whether he accepts his canonical election as the Supreme Pontiff. Yes, this is a defining task of the Dean. But, do we REALLY know that it was Villot who asked the question? This quote appears in a section of the book which is in bold, italic. Those sections are supposed to be ‘best guess’ conjecture.

So we have two key possibilities:

1/ Greely, who is far from infallible, got it wrong. He assumed that it is the Camerlengo who asks that question. Easy enough ‘confusion.’ Definitely sounds like a task that would be done by the Camerlengo.

2/ Villot, in all the excitement, overstepped his mark. Possible.

To check this out I compiled this table of the four suburbicarian see cardinal bishops that did attend the August 1978 conclave.

Three of the cardinal were appointed cardinal bishops on the same day, viz. December 12, 1974.

But, notice that Villot was the first among those four to be made a cardinal. So he, from pure ‘straight-line’ seniority, had been a cardinal longer than the other three.

Now, per the 1731 precedence rules, ‘straight-line’ seniority is what determines seniority for cardinal priests and cardinal deacons, even once a deacon uses jus optionis to become a cardinal priest.

So … following 1961-1962 did the 1731 precedence for cardinal bishops get changed so that ‘straight-line’ seniority applies across the board. When you are appointed cardinal determines precedence even if you are elevated to a higher order.

So I compiled a similar table for the current suburbicarian see cardinal bishops — under 80.

Draw your own conclusions.

If we go by the 1731 rule it is Cardinal Arinze.

If we go by the first to be made a cardinal, it is again Cardinal Arinze.

If we go by the oldest (per the 1983 Code of Canon Law reference) it would be Cardinal Martins.

Cardinal Re only gets the nod, IF the rule was changed to say, first to be made a cardinal bishop.

So … that is where we are.

Thank. All the best. Enjoy.

The Next Conclave — Those That Will Officiate

by Anura Guruge

Four Related Articles: 1. Over 80 Rule 2. Dean may be excluded
3. Camerlengo and The Major Penitentiary

4. Precedence Among Cardinal Bishops

This is the fourth (and hopefully last) article in a series about those that can participate in the next conclave — promoted by the London Times howler on May 10, 2010 that talked about Cardinal Sodano, as the Dean, attending the next conclave — though he is already 82, and thus two years over the mandatory, inviolable 80 year cut-off for conclave participation.

Please refer to the three articles referenced above for more details on conclave participating, role delegation and rules of precedence.

This is the list of the ‘Officers,’ both cardinals and non-cardinals, that will officiate at the next conclave (if it were to be held in the ‘near’ future with 80 denoting 80-year cut-off.]

1. Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. 80, NOT-deputizable.
College of Cardinals will have to elect a new, but interim, Camerlengo.
—-current: Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone [b. Dec. 2, 1934], 75.
Can participate and do so for the next 5 years.

2. Dean of the College of Cardinals. 80, Deputizable by Vice-Dean
(or next most senior Cardinal Bishop)
—-current: Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano [b. Nov. 23, 1927], 82.
Cannot participate.

3. Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals. 80, Deputizable by senior most Cardinal Bishop present
—-current: French Cardinal Roger
Etchegaray [b. Sep. 25, 1922], 87.
Cannot participate.

4. Senior most Cardinal Bishop (after Vice-Dean). 80, Deputizable by next in line per precedence … even if it is the senior most Cardinal Priest present
—-current: Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re
[b. Jan. 30, 1934], 76.
Can participate and do so for the next 4 years.
[Earlier confusion as to whether Cardinal Re actually was the most senior had to do with a hitherto undetected translation error in the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia! Please read << this >>]

5. Senior most Cardinal Priest. 80, Deputizable by next in line per precedence within the order of Cardinal Priests
[in contrast to the case with Cardinal Bishops, it is impossible to envisage a conclave with no Cardinal Priests.]

—-current: Brazilian Cardinal Eugênio de Araújo Sales [b. Nov. 8, 1920], 89.
Cannot participate.

At present the senior most Cardinal Priest under 80 is Belgium Cardinal Godfried Danneels [b. June 4, 1933]. << Thanks Marko >>

6. Senior most Cardinal Deacon. 80, Deputizable by next in line per precedence within the order of Cardinal Deacons
[though improbable, in theory, it would be possible to have a conclave with no Cardinal Deacons in attendance. If this ever happened, the junior most cardinal priest would have to perform the roles expected of the senior most Cardinal Deacon]

—-current: Italian Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan [b. Aug. 4, 1926], 83.
Cannot participate.

At present the senior most Cardinal Deacon under 80 is Italian Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani [b. Apr. 11, 1931].  << Thanks Marko >>

Is not always a cardinal — as is the case right now. Not permitted within the conclave unless he is an under-80 cardinal.
If post is vacant prior to or if the incumbent dies during the sede vacante the College of Cardinals via a secret ballot will elect one of their own as the interim Major Penitentiary. It does not stipulate that they have to elect one who is under-80. If the incumbent dies during the conclave, the cardinal electors, in conclave, will, most likely, elect one of their own as the stand-in.

1. Major Penitentiary.
80, NOT-Deputizable. Not required within conclave
—-current: Italian Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli
[b. Aug. 6, 1935].
Cannot participate since he is NOT a cardinal.

The Cardinal Vicar General of Rome, the Cardinal Vicar General for Vatican City and the Cardinal Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica retain their posts during the sede vacante.
Upon being notified by the Camerlengo, the Cardinal Vicar General of Rome has the responsibility of informing the people of Rome as to the
sede vacante.
None of these three, however, have any specific duties to perform within a conclave.
If there is no Vicar General of Rome during the
sede vacante his duties will automatically be performed by the Vice-Vicar, i.e., the Vicegerent. If there is no Vicegerent, then the senior most auxiliary bishop of Rome steps in.
The Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis, does not specify what needs to be done if there is no Vicar General for Vatican City or a Cardinal Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica. One assumes that a non-cardinal deputy will do the needful until a replacement is appointed by the new pope.

The pope can appoint non-cardinals to all three of these posts. Vicar General of Vatican City may also be Archpriest of the Basilica.

1. Vicar General of Rome. 80, Deputizable from within the see of Rome. Not required within conclave
—-current: Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini [b. Apr. 17, 1940]. 70

Can participate and do so for the next ten years.

2. Vicar General for Vatican City. 80, Deputizable from within the Vatican City hierarchy. Not required within conclave
—-current: Italian Cardinal Angelo Comastri
[b. Sep. 14, 1943], 66.
Can participate and do so for the next fourteen years.

3. Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica. 80, Deputizable from within the Vatican City or Basilica hierarchy. Not required within conclave
—-current: Italian Cardinal Angelo Comastri [b. Sep. 14, 1943], 66. << same as above >>
Can participate and do so for the next fourteen years.


These officials are required to participate within the conclave, BUT since they are not cardinals they cannot vote nor be in the Sistine Chapel when ballots are being cast.
Since they are not cardinals, and as such non-electors, their age is immaterial.

1. Secretary of the College of Cardinals. If needed, a temporary deputy will be appointed by the College, if needed
—-current: Italian Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro
Cannot cast any votes or be in the Sistine Chapel when the electors are voting.

2. Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. If needed, a temporary deputy will be appointed by the College, most likely from within the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff
—-current: Italian Monsignor Guido Marini
[He is not related to his predecessor, Piero Marini who held this post from 1997 to 2007]

Cannot cast any votes or be in the Sistine Chapel when the electors are voting.

There are a few others that attend, such as two Masters of Ceremonies, an assistant to the ‘Dean,’ a contingent of Confessors etc., but these are not ‘officers’ per se and are chosen prior to the conclave. Thus their names are not known ahead of a conclave.

Seán Patrick O’Malley Papabile? The Next Pope? The First Bearded Pope In Over 300 Years?

Cardinal O'Malley of Boston
Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley

Anura Guruge

I do not think (but, as ever, I could be wrong) that Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, of Boston, will be the next pope.

I have already written once about this topic … albeit focusing on the Cardinal’s incongruous and ‘inappropriate’ beard.

But, I am amazed by the number of folks, albeit mainly U.S. Catholics, that continue to ‘troll’ the Web … trying to find out (or in some cases promote) Cardinal O’Malley as a viable candidate to be the next pope.

Though he is my ‘neighbor,’ I personally do not know the cardinal … though I do know a couple of folks that do know him well. I have nothing against the cardinal and he seems like an ‘OK’ type person (though I will readily admit that his beard amuses me … probably because I have to shave … though I hate having to shave).

This is why I do not think that he will be the next pope … and please note that many of the ‘objections’ have NOTHING to do with the Cardinal per se.

  1. He is American. As I have always maintained since I started publishing my papabili list I really do NOT think the next pope can be from the U.S. As I articulated in detail in ‘The Next Pope,‘ the chances of the next pope being from the U.S.A. is extremely slim, despite the disproportionate representation the U.S.A. enjoys within the College and the role of the U.S. Catholics as the ‘rain makers’ for the Church. The pope is a powerful head of state. Having a U.S. pope, rightly or wrongly, will give the U.S., the ONLY Super Power, at present, TWO (2) heads of state. One in D.C. and the other at the Vatican. When George Bush was in power such a scenario would have been untenable. But, with the charismatic Obama things are different … BUT, not to the extent that the French, Spanish and non-European cardinal electors will contemplate having an American in the Apostolic Palace. Plus, there is the inescapable clergy sex abuse scandal. The U.S. was the original epicenter for this scandal. So ALL U.S. cardinals have two automatic strikes against them: U.S. as a Super Power and the magnitude of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the U.S.
  2. He is linked to Cardinal Law. Bernard Francis Law, more than any other cardinal to-date, was implicated in the cover-up of the clergy sex abuse scandal. Though O’Malley may not have been a protege of Law’s he worked under Law between 1992 and 2002 — when Law was forced to relinquish his title in Boston. This Boston connection is going to haunt him irrespective of whether he, himself, has totally clean hands.
  3. He is young. Though he looks older he was born in June 1944. That makes him 66. If elected pope within the next 5 years, he could, within reason, have a pontificate that easily lasts 15 years. That alone would not be too intimidating if not for the fact that he is American. Yes, the two issues are inter-connected. IF the electors do get around to overcoming their fears of an American pope, they still probably will not want one that has the chance of being there for 15 years. Much could change in the US over 15 years. Jeb Bush or that flighty ex-governor of Alaska (what was her name) could usurp Barack. Much can happen over 15 years.
  4. He is a monk. Yes, there have been at least 30 popes that belonged to religious orders. None, however, were Capuchins à la the Cardinal from Boston. [Plus, he is the only Capuchin in the College, though there are 18 others that belong to other orders PLUS one who belongs to Opus Dei.] The last monk to be elected pope was Gregory XVI (#255) in 1831. He was a quirky one, ruthless, brutal and opposed gas lighting and railroads. You can never tell with monks. That could be another factor.
  5. He is attached to his beard. Western prelates are not supposed to sport facial hair. The last pope to have a beard was Innocent XII (#243), 1691-1700. Yes, Capuchins like their beards but it is conceivable that the cardinal electors may consider it an affront.

So those are MY reasons as to why I do not think that Cardinal O’Malley is a papabile. But, anybody who is at the conclave has a sporting chance — even if they are bearded.

So, I could be wrong. It would be one heck of a kick to have a pope from Massachusetts. I for one will rush down to Boston, 90 minutes away, to celebrate in China Town.

All the best.