Tag Archives: Dean

Last ‘Unrepresented’ Consistory.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
by Anura Guruge

Occurred to me the other day (while hiking in Acadia National Park) that I did not know the ‘demarcation line’ when it came to the last consistory with as yet ‘active’ cardinals. What I was trying to work out was which consistory was the last in terms of:

1/ All created cardinals now over 80, or

2/ All created cardinals now deceased.

The 2 consistories that meet these criteria are those of 1988 and 1977. But we should also make a note of that of 1976 — Paul VI’s last.

Of the 24 cardinals created at the 1988 consistory 18 are dead and the other 6 are now over 80. So there will be no representation from this consistory if there were to be a conclave anytime soon.

From ‘Catholic Hierarchy’ with thanks.

All 21 of the cardinals created at the 1976 consistory are now dead, U.S.  William Wakefield Baum, ex-Archbishop of Washington, the last to do so — his passing happening (quite recently) on July 23, 2015.

Then there is the 1977 consistory — the next one after that of 1976. It was a small consistory at which only 4 cardinals were created — BUT one of them was ex-Pope, Ratzinger. Of the four he is the only one still alive. The last of the other three, Bernardin Gantin, of Benin, one time Dean of the College of Cardinals, having passed away in May 2008.

So in terms of ‘unrepresented’ the two consistories are 1976 and 1988.

There Was No Dean Of the College of Cardinals Prior to 1150

I am sorry, I do not care what you dig up on the Web that contradicts this … BUT there was NO Dean of the College of Cardinals prior to 1150.

A very straightforward reason for this. There was NO College of Cardinals prior to 1150. So you couldn’t have a Dean of an institution that wasn’t in existence.

People get confused about this and I can empathize. Most assume that there has always been a College since the notion of cardinals came to be. [Then again, I had MD from Canada, who, yesterday, got very confused between conclaves and consistories!]

Please check out this post at popes and papacy for more information on this topic.

Thank you.
Anura Guruge

Here is an example of somebody getting this wrong.

US English Translation of 1983 Canon 355 Differs From UK/Irish English Translation

This all boils down as to what is the most appropriate English translation of the Latin ‘antiquior.’

The US English Translation as provided by the Washington, D.C. based Canon Law Society of America (1999) when talking about 1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 355 § 1 says:
‘the oldest cardinal from the episcopal order’
. Please see << here >>.

The Vatican provided English translation of John Paul II’s (#265) Universi Dominici Gregis Clause #90 which is talking about the same situation says:
by the senior Cardinal Bishop’. Please see << here >>.

‘Oldest’ and ‘Senior’ when it comes to cardinals is not the same. Right now, when we discount the Dean and Sub-Dean, who are both over 80, Cardinal Martins in the OLDEST, Cardinal Re is the most SENIOR. See the problem.

I have addressed this and much more << here >>

Mr. Andrea Mondello, http://avemundi.host-ed.net/, who has been doing yeoman work helping me out on this, suggested I look at the British/Irish translation.

I found that at: http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/canon/c0330-0572.htm#par698

They say, consistent with Universi Dominici Gregis Clause #90, ‘to the senior Cardinal of the episcopal order.

But I am also contending with this June 14, 2010 comment from my friend ‘Stefano’ which says:
{I’ve checked in the Latin-Italian dictionary. Maybe we’re all right, because the difference is very slight.Antiquior is the comparative of “Antiquus”, which means literally “very very old” (ancient, we would say), and – please note, that’s important – is intended to be the opposite of “novus” (= “new).Senior is the comparative of “senex”, meaning just “old” (not “very” old), and is intended to be the opposite of “juvenis” (= young).
So, to sum up the two words respectively mean “far more old” and “more old”. But what really differ is the starting point. Old in front of “new” in the first case and old in front of “young” in the second.
I think that applied in the cardinal precedence all this means that “antiquior” is a cardinal intended within the whole of his canonic curriculum vitae – i.e. a cardinal having been a bishop and a former priest for a much longer time than others. On the contrary, “senior” might be a cardinal which is no longer “young” – so to say – in his order. You see, the ancient languages (especially Greek, but also Latin) where much more profound in such implicit details than the modern ones. All the best and thank you for bouncing me back to my beloved Latin.}



This afternoon (June 14, 2010), I telephoned that Canon Law Society of America.

In 2007, they helped me out. I always go out of my way to be nice to those that help me out.

In 2007, I wanted to be able to quote a Canon in a book. Father Art Espelage, OFM, the then coordinator at the Society helped me out and gave e permission. I never published that book. But, I was always grateful.

When I called up today, I discovered that Father Espelage had left 2 years ago. The new coordinator was a Sister. Sister Sharon, I think.

I gave her the details and backed it up with an email with tons of links.

I also contacted ‘Our Lady’s Warriors’ in the UK.

So, I am doing my utmost to get these translations in line.

Just amuses the HECK out of me. Nobody else spotted these inconsistencies in a decade. Catholic scholarship?

All the best. Thanks. Cheers.

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

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.

The Next Conclave — The Camerlengo and The Major Penitentiary

by Anura Guruge

Related Articles: 1. Over 80 Rule &    2. Dean may be excluded

This is the third article in a series about those that can participate in the next conclave — promoted by the London Times blooper that had 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.

If the Dean of the College, the Vice Dean, the senior most Cardinal Priest or the senior most Cardinal Deacon cannot participate in a conclave, the senior most of that ‘order’ automatically deputizes for the absent member without incident. This has already happened since the 80 year cut-off rule came into play as of January 1971 — in particular during the two 1978 conclaves.

There are, however, two exceptions that have to be considered, the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church and the Major Penitentiary. Both of specific duties that have to be performed right through the sede vacante — with it being imperative that the Camerlengo is present within the conclave since he has to head up the Particular Congregations held within the conclave to handle ad hoc logisticsal and procedural issues.

The Camerlengo
The Camerlengo is essentially the master of ceremonies during the sede vacante. Conclave protocol requires the camerlengo to be present within the conclave to mastermind and handle certain procedural issues — e.g., whether the electors can take a break between the two ballots that make up a session etc.

The rules are also such that the 80 year cut-off will still apply to the Camerlengo.

Hence, the modern practice is that the Camerlengo will resign when he turns 80. Spanish Cardinal Eduardo Somalo, who was the Camerlengo at the 2005 conclave, resigned on April 4, 2007 — 4 days after his 80th birthday. The prior Camerlengo, Italian Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, died a couple of months short of his 80th birthday. The one before that, Cardinal Bertoli resigned at 77 while his predecessor, the storied Cardinal Jean-Marie Villot died at 73 a year after his gallant efforts acting as Camerlengo in both of the 1978 conclaves.

The current Camerlengo is Italian Cardinal Bertone who is currently 75 (b. December 2, 1934).

If a Camerlengo had turned 80 prior to the sede vacante, he would have to resign prior to the conclave. The College of Cardinals will then elect, via secret ballot, one of the cardinal electors, to act as an interim Camerlengo — to serve until the election of the new pope. The Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis, already has a provision to handle this.

There is a Vice-Camerlengo. But, the Vice-Camerlengo is not a cardinal. He is a member of the Apotolic Camera that administers papal finances. Given that he is not a cardinal, the Vice-Camerlengo cannot deputize for the Camerlengo per se during the sede vacante or within the conclave. Since only a pope can creates cardinals, the Vice-Camerlengo cannot be promoted during a sede vacante.

The Major Penitentiary
The Church requires a Major Penitentiary to be available at all times to mediate in matters of mercy.

Though the Major Penitentiary is usually a cardinal, this does not always have to be the case. Right now the Major Penitentiary, or to be precise the Pro-Major Penitentiary, Fortunato Baldelli, is not a cardinal.  Thus, if there was to be a conclave he would not be attending. This also tells us that unlike with the Camerlengo it is not imperative that the Major Penitentiary is present at the conclave.

In theory, the Major Penitentiary as the head of curial dicastery must tender his resignation at 75 — though a pope can continue to retain him in that job as long as he wants, irrespective of age. [A Camerlengo, though usually the head of the Apostolic Camera, can be a camerlengo without heading up a curial dicastery. Thus, the 75 year rule does not apply to that poet.]

If the Major Penitentiary is over 80 at the start of the sede vacante, it would appear that he could continue to serve until the new pope is elected — though he will not be able to participate in the conclave. In this respect it would be the same as having a non-cardinal Major Penitentiary.

However, if something happens to the Major Penitentiary just prior to or during the sede vacante it is incumbent on the College of Cardinals to promptly elect a new one, via secret ballot. In this instance, the new Major Penitentiary has to be a cardinal — thought it does not stipulate that he has to be a cardinal elector [i.e., under 80]


The secret ballots used to elect a Camerlengo or Major Penitentiary during the sede vacante are not contingent on an absolute majority, as is the case with electing the pope. However gets the most votes wins. If there is a tie, the senior most cardinal, in terms of precedence within the College, gets the nod. All cardinals, irrespective of age, can vote in these elections if they take place outside the conclave. If the ballot has to be conducted within the conclave, for example if the Camerlengo dies during a conclave, only the cardinal electors will be able to participate since the older cardinals will be cut-off from them.