Aug 302010

Now retired curialist, French Cardinal Priest Paul Poupard turned 80 on Monday, August 30, 2010.

The College continues at 179, though we are now down to 106 electors.

All of the relevant postings and listings have been updated to reflect this change, in particular:

0/ The ‘College of Cardinals’ display ‘box’ on these pages.

College of Cardinals demographics << here >>

6-page listing of the College of Cardinals statistics << here >>

3/ Father John’s increasingly popular Cardinalabili list, which has also been enhanced (ages of the prelates included) and scrubbed to eradicate the gremlin typos << here >>

I haven’t updated the consistory data, for example << here >>, because I clearly specify when that data was compiled. I only have so much time, and I have to prioritize. SMILE.

Thanks. Enjoy.


Aug 282010

About ten days ago I received an e-mail from a relatively ‘involved’ follower of this blog informing me that he was reading the subject book, by Lucien Gregoire, and how that book had convinced him as to how far the Church will go to get rid of ‘undesirables’ — even if they were pope. I was appalled.

He wanted to know whether I was familiar with the book. Alas, I am. I read it, with much anticipation, in 2008. I was appalled. In reality very few books appall me and I, as an ever struggling writer, try to understand the challenges the author must have confronted.

What REALLY bugged me about this ‘book’ were the flagrant, factual errors.

To err is human. I make errors. I readily acknowledge them and repeatedly point out that fallibility has been my faithful handmaiden throughout my life. I did NOT know that there had been a religious order called the ‘Humiliati.’ So I screwed up when I said that only one religious order had been suppressed by a pope. [I have since fixed that.] I make lots typos. I type 1880 for 1800 and 1963 for 963. Most of my readers forgive me for these errors. Some even empathize.

But, the factual errors in this ‘book’ have a very distinct ‘flavor.’ Many do NOT come across as oversights. It just seems impossible to get something that WRONG.

Cardinal electors do NOT call out the name of the person that they voted for!

The ballots in a conclave are NOT counted in a private room!

Popes do not have to be elected by an unanimous vote!

To justify the factual errors in this book, I listed a few, with much reservations, in my ‘errors in books about popessection. I just feel that this book is not worthy of being on that page! Yes, the other books have errors too, some more than others, but all of them are serious, credible books. This book does not meet MY credibility criteria. I cannot take this book seriously.

Yes, very early on I cottoned onto the ‘not so hidden’ auxiliary agenda of the author. I won’t comment on that.

I am also refraining from commenting, too much, on the subjective commentary in this ‘book’ since that is open to debate. I just want to point out the factual errors and just use that as my basis for treating this ‘book’ with disdain. Some of his comments bother me. Some of what he has to say about Good Pope John XXIII (#262), in my opinion, are highly contentious.

On page 126 he says that John Paul I’s father was ‘Givovanni Paulo’ [John Paul] — hence another rationale for his double-barreled name, the first in papal history. That is father was ‘Givovanni,’ is a given. I can’t find any references to it having been ‘Givovanni Paulo.’ It may have. It just seems strange that the pope didn’t mention that — particularly given that John XXIII made a point of stressing that ‘John’ also happened to be the name of his beloved father. John Paul I knew that, and like most, must have been touched. Then, not to mention it, if it was indeed the case, seems very incongruous. And that is my point.

As far as I recall, this book was inconclusive and very garbled as to what really happened to poor John Paul I. Given the factual errors, I would have had difficulty accepting any conclusions with convictions. That is the problem with credibility. Once you have blown your credibility, you have lost everything.

I have read quite a few books related to John Paul I, including: ‘In God’s name,‘ ‘The making of the 1978 popes,‘ ‘Pontiff,‘ ‘Vatican,‘ and ‘A thief in the night.‘ The last of these also disappointing, given that it proved to be frustratingly flaccid when it came to its ‘up in the air’ conclusions. But, I didn’t encounter any major factual errors that made to recoil — as was the case with the Lucien ‘book.’

I personally think the pope did have a heart attack. But, I could  be wrong.

The bottom line here, please treat the subject ‘book’ with CAUTION. Take care to separate the facts from the fiction.

Aug 242010

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.

Vatican on the College of Cardinals at

Vatican on the College of Cardinals at Click to go to the Vatican page

What I have already said:

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

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

My friend, Salvador Miranda at his ‘The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church‘ says this:

Salvador Miranda of 'The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church' on when the College was formed.

Salvador Miranda of 'The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church' on when the College was formed. << click >>

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. Please read << this >> post. You may also be interested in << this >> post.


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?

Difficult to be the Dean when there was NO College!

Difficult to be the Dean when there was NO College!

Aug 232010

Cardinal deacons elected pope (as of 769), August 18, 2010 post.

As I was compiling the cardinal deacons list, above, I realized that I would also have to make up a list of the cardinal bishops elected pope. Sure enough, Dewie Gaul, who had requested the cardinal deacon list, sent me an e-mail, a few days ago, thanking me for the list but inquiring as to when I planned to post a similar list for the cardinal bishops. So here is that list.

There have been 29 cardinal bishops elected pope since 769.

The current 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.


Please refer to the cardinal deacons article, above, 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 article, above.

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.

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

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. At least of late (i.e., the last few centuries), the cardinal bishops may have been older than the norm.
  4. 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.]


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!

The rest should be easy enough to decipher. Let me know. Hope this helps. Thank you.

Anura Guruge

Aug 192010

'The Next Pope' Book is now at Revision 1

'The Next Pope' Book is now at Revision 1

One of my motivators for writing ‘The Next Pope‘ was that I could, thanks to the ‘print-on-demand’ (PoD) mechanisms of today,  ‘easily’ update it, at will, whenever I felt a revision was warranted.

This would differentiate it from prior ‘Next Pope‘ books which soon became out of date and irrelevant as new events transpired — e.g., the creation of new cardinals. My goal is to update this book, ideally once a year, to reflect the latest data.

This first revision, REVISION 1 (August 19, 2010), 6 months after the book was released, corrected eleven ‘errors’ found in the book plus a fair sprinkling of typos (which somehow got past the four proof readers who charged me for supposedly proofing this book). These errors, per my promise to the readers, were listed << here >> … in ‘The Next Pope’ errata section. All these are fixed.

So any new copies shipped after today, whether you buy it from Amazon, lulu, Barnes & Noble, W. H. Smith etc., should have the above ‘Revision 1’ notation on the copyright page — and the known errors fixed.

You may come across, especially at Amazon, folks selling supposedly USED copies. Check with them. In many instances there are NOT used copies. They say ‘used’ to justify their ‘lower’ prices. PoD books are available to resellers at a very steep discount, 55% off the list price is normal. So the reseller has a lot of latitude as to what they can charge. Hence the various discounts you see. Some, rather than calling it a discount, says it is ‘used’ — but it nearly new condition. All I am trying to say is that given this is PoD, even the so called used books might still be new ones, at Rev. 1, thanks to PoD. OK?

Anura Guruge

Aug 182010

This is in response to “Dewie Gaul’scomment on this blog on August 16, 2010. Dewie is a formidable papal expert in his own right who has read, thoroughly, more papal books than I have had hot dinners this year.

Leo X (#218) the last cardinal deacon, in 1513, to be elected pope.

Leo X (#218), seated, the last cardinal deacon, in 1513, to be elected pope.

The last cardinal deacon to be elected pope was Leo X (#218), the youngest son of the famed Lorenzo ‘Il Magnifico’ de’ Medici of Florence, in 1513 — he having been created a cardinal, in ‘secret’ (as opposed to in pectore), when he was thirteen. He is also reported to have famously said, when elected pope, ‘God has given us the papacy. Now let us enjoy it.’ This, alack, was not to be. His papacy was buffeted, majorly, by Martin Luther’s Reformation. << Page 36 of my ‘The Next Pope‘ >>

That we haven’t had a cardinal deacon elected pope since 1513 should not be viewed in anyway as being ‘sinister’ or representative. Part of the reason being that many cardinal deacons had used the prevailing jus optionis preferment rules to become cardinal priests or cardinal bishops before they got elected as pope. Right now, one of my papabili, Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Vicar General of Rome, is a cardinal deacon.

There has never been an issue about electing cardinals deacons as pope.

A Roman Synod, convened in 769, Stephen III (IV) (#95), stated categorically that ONLY cardinal priests and cardinal deacons were eligible to be pope! Since then, this eligibility of cardinal deacons to be pope was never rescinded. So it has always been possible, as of 769, for a cardinal deacon to be elected pope.

Here is a table of eligibility (and papal electors), << Page 86 of my ‘The Next Pope‘ >>, that highlights the eligibility and role of cardinal deacons in papal elections — as of 769.

role of cardinals in papal elections from 'The Next Pope' by Anura Guruge

Role of cardinals in papal elections from 'The Next Pope' by Anura Guruge << click to enlarge >>

The reason is I did not go past 769 has to do with the above mentioned, pivotal synod. This synod was the first time that the tern ‘cardinal’ was explicitly used in the context of papal elections. I am loathe to arbitrarily classify Roman clerics ‘cardinals’ prior to 769 because I worry that we might potentially run into an ‘apples’ vs. ‘oranges’ situation. Hence, the 769 cut-off. There are quite a few deacons that became pope prior to 769 — including Leo I ‘the Great’ (#45). The problem is that we can’t be sure as to whether all the deacons in Rome, prior to 769, should be considered cardinal deacons.

There have been 22 cardinal deacons elected pope as of 769 — the very first pope elected after the 769 Synod, viz. Hadrian I (#96), having been a cardinal deacon.

Since there have been 171 popes elected since 769, the 22 cardinal deacons elected pope represents 13%.

Here is the list. I knew Leo X was the last and I had the list from 769 to 1378 in an Excel spreadsheet. So it was fairly easy for me to put together this list.

Aug 132010

The papabili lists presented here are meant to be egalitarian.

IF you want to present YOUR own list of papabili, I will gladly consider publishing it … even formatted to look like the other lists … provided you just meet three relatively simple conditions.

  1. I don’t want to publish individual papabile names. I want a ranked list of 10 names for consistency. [If you do not have the energy to include date-of-birth, country, when ordained etc., I will do that for YOU for no charge.]
  2. Please ONLY include current cardinals, whether electors or non-electors. That is for consistency too. Including non-cardinals adds another layer of speculation — i.e., that the non-cardinal will soon be created a cardinal. If we all stick to existing cardinals, it keeps the playing field reasonably level. OK? Right now I have an email promoting U.S. Archbishop Raymond Burke. Can we please wait until he is created a cardinal and then also have him within the context of a ranked list. OK?
  3. While I will be willing to publish lists WITHOUT your actual name (as I did for dear ‘Father John’), I need to know WHO you are … and I am very good at digging past aliases. So, your name doesn’t have to appear against the list, BUT I need to know your ascertainable identity. OK?

So that is it.

If you feel inclined to share your opinions, please go ahead. Thanks. Anura

Aug 132010

The pope’s visit to Great Britain [a.k.a. UK and to some, albeit erroneously, as just ‘England’] in September 2010, 16-19 September to be precise, now looks like a FIRM ‘GO’ — and you can find the latest itinerary <<here>>.

I am glad. I think it will be good for both ‘sides.’ Six months ago I had my doubts whether this trip would go ahead, but it does appear that concessions have been made on both sides of the English Channel. But, as a Brit, I suspect that there will still be a few fireworks — outside of any displays in the night skies.

Pope Benedict XVI (#266) will be but the second reigning pope to visit this historically dominant nation with 8.5 million Catholics — 14% of the population and the 29th most populous.

The intrepid world traveler, John Paul II (#265), in May 1982 [28 May to 2 June to be exact] was the first reigning pope (that we are aware of) to visit Great Britain. That, however, was not classed as an ‘official’ visit. Instead, it was a pastoral visit. That this visit went ahead, even though Britain had just entered into an armed conflict with the very Catholic Argentina, over the Falkland Islands, must say much about John Paul II’s pragmatism.

So, this upcoming visit is significant from an historical perspective. Hence, this post given our emphasis on papal history.

Aug 022010

Pius X (#258), on May 29, 1954, was the last pope, to date, to be canonized.

Prior to Pius X, it had been Pius V (#226) in May 1712242 years separating these two canonizations. You have to go back another 399 years from Pius V, to May 1313,  for the previous pope to canonized, that being Celestine V (#193), the ‘God-Father’ of today’s papal conclaves.

The table below charts the time-line for the Pius X canonization, which took close to 40 years, and shows how the time taken for his canonization process compares with those of others:

Pius X canonization time-line, compared to those of others, by Anura Guruge

Pius X canonization time-line, compared to those of others, by Anura Guruge

<< click on table to get a larger image >>

The canonization of Pius V took considerably longer, while that of Celestine V, in the 14th century, took less than half the time. As far as I am concerned, Celestine deserved to be canonized, if nothing else, for institutionalizing papal conclaves — in the ardent hope that they would expedite papal election. His piety, he having been a well known hermit monk, is also beyond reproach. It is thus rather unfortunate that there is a belief that his canonization was due to imperial coercion by Philip IV of France — who apparently wanted Celestine canonized so as to disparage Celestine successor Boniface VIII (#194)!

The beatification/canonization processes of John Paul II (#265) and Mother Teresa of Calcutta were ‘fast tracked’ — i.e., the 5 year waiting period prior to the process being initiated was waived by a pope. Mother Teresa’s beatification, in 2003, did occur very quickly. It is possible that she could gain her sainthood in less time than it took Celestine.

It is interesting to note that Pius X and John XXIII (#262) were beatified in more or less the same time. However, Pius canonization occurred very soon after that.

Study the table. It is interesting. Hope you like it.

Thank you.

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