Feb 252011

by Anura Guruge

If there had been a conclave that started on Monday, February 21, 2011, we could have had three bona fide cardinal electors participating who were over the age of 80, viz. Cardinals Ricardo Vidal (dob Feb. 6, 1931), Agustin Garcia-Gasco Vicente (dob Feb. 12, 1931) & Camillo Ruini (dob Feb. 19, 1931). This would not have been due to any trickery, impropriety or misunderstanding. It would have been strictly by the rules, in this case Pope John Paul II’s (#265) 1996 Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis — which specifies what is to happen when there is a sede vacante. The two pertinent Universi Dominici Gregis clauses being #33 %& #37.

Universi Dominici Gregis #33 states: The right to elect the Roman Pontiff belongs exclusively to the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church, with the exception of those who have reached their eightieth birthday before the day of the Roman Pontiff’s death or the day when the Apostolic See becomes vacant.

Universi Dominici Gregis #37 states: I furthermore decree that, from the moment when the Apostolic See is lawfully vacant, the Cardinal electors who are present must wait fifteen full days for those who are absent; the College of Cardinals is also granted the faculty to defer, for serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few days more. But when a maximum of twenty days have elapsed from the beginning of the vacancy of the See, all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to proceed to the election.

So, as you can see, per UDG #33, the 80-year cut-off for conclave eligibility is the day prior to when the sede vacante began. Specifying the ‘day before,’ is a mediocre attempt to avoid any possible timing-related ‘complications’ if the cut-off was said to be the actual day that the sede vacante occurred.

Given that the earliest that the conclave can begin is 16 days after the start of the sede vacante, any cardinals who turn 80 during this ‘window’ can legitimately participate in the conclave as cardinal electors. As you can also see from UDG #37 it is even possible for this window to be extended up to 20 days.

I did a quick check on the 2005 conclave. I didn’t see any over-80 cardinals that attended. Ditto with the two conclaves in 1978. But, as you can now see it is all a question of timing — and the chances of over-80 cardinals participating in a conclave increases when we have surfeit of cardinals in their 79th year.

The Vatican has never really addressed exactly when a cardinal turns 80 — given that there are 24 time zones and the real possibility that a cardinal may have been born in one time zone and living in another, very different, one. For example lets take the ‘Tanned Ratzinger.’ He was born in Ceylon — +5.5 hours GMT. (Yes, Sri Lanka still, to its credit, uses a .5 time zone to ensure that sun rise and sun set, in this country, just 7 ° North of the equator, is as close to ‘6’ as possible.) So lets assume that he is brought to Rome as so many predict. He would then be in GMT +1. He, in Sri Lanka, will turn 80 4.5 hours AHEAD of him turning 80 in the Eternal City. See the challenge?

I wrote about this nearly 3 years ago. Have a read here if you want for details of this problem.

John Paul II, Cleverly, Changed The 80-Year Cut-Off Point!
As is fairly well known, it is Paul VI (#263), in 1970, that came up with the 80-year, non-elector criteria for cardinals — to weed out, older, conservative cardinals that may have tried to elect a pope who may have tried to downplay the reforms sought by Vatican II.

In 1975, Paul VI unveiled his sede vacante related Apostolic Constitution, Romano Pontifici eligendo (which was superseded by John Paul II’s UDG in 1996).

Paul VI had a very different cut-off point for over-80 cardinals.

PauRomano Pontifici eligendo #33 states: The right to elect the Roman Pontiff belongs exclusively to the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, except for those of them who, in accordance with the norm previously established, shall have completed their 80th year when the time comes for entering into the conclave; the number of cardinal electors shall not, however, exceed 120. Excluded from among the electors, therefore, is any person of any other ecclesiastical rank and any layperson of whatever rank and order.

Paul VI excluded any cardinal, over 80, from entering the conclave! So if John Paul II had stuck with Paul’s criteria we would not have any over-80 cardinals entering a conclave (though it is always possible that a cardinal elector turns 80 while within the conclave).

So why did John Paul II change the Paul VI cut-off?

Anura Guruge's 'The Next Pope' Book

Anura Guruge's 'The Next Pope' Book

To me, that John Paul II changed the cut-off illustrated a fundamental difference in background, worldly experience and shrewdness of the two popes. John Paul II, given the rough-and-tumble existence he endured in Poland during WW II and the communist regime, comes across as more shrewd and cynical than the ‘gentle’ Paul VI. John Paul II obviously saw that there was a potential loophole in Paul VI’s scheme that could be exploited by a simple majority [i.e., 51%] of the College of Cardinals.

What is that loophole? The possibility of delaying the start of the conclave OR even refusing to delay the start of the conclave DEPENDING on whether it helped them in terms of when a 79-year old cardinal turned 80.

If you want details of the specific scenarios please check page 130 of my ‘The Next Pope.’ If you don’t have a copy you can read that page, for GRATIS (or even free), using Google Books or Amazon ‘Look Inside.’

The right to elect the Roman Pontiff belongs exclusively to the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church, with the exception of those who have reached their eightieth birthday before the day of the Roman Pontiff’s death or the day when the Apostolic See becomes vacant.The right to elect the Roman Pontiff belongs exclusively to the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church, with the exception of those who have reached their eightieth birthday before the day of the Roman Pontiff’s death or the day when the Apostolic See becomes vacant.
Feb 222011

There is a ‘The Next Pope’ FaceBook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Next-Pope/313100632394?ref=mf

Notification of new posts to this blog as well as to papam immediately get posted there … automatically (without me now having to rely on my wife to do so) thanks to the magic of the tight integration between WordPress –> Twitter –> FaceBook. So, if you subscribe to that FaceBook page you will be notified whenever there is a new papal post by yours truly — that is ME. See screen-shot below to see how this works.

Or IF you have Twitter you can follow ‘@aguruge‘. That will also give you ALL the new posts plus my occasional Tweet. I do not Tweet often. But, of late I have been getting requests to Tweet more often. So I try to do at least one daily — typically on papal news. But, as of today I will also Tweet whenever there is a comment that is worth checking out.

Thank you. Hope this helps.

Feb 212011

by Anura Guruge

As stated yesterday, all six remaining cardinal deacons from John Paul II’s (#265) momentous February 21, 2001 cardinal-creating consistory were eligible for jus optionis promotion to the order of cardinal priest as of today — now that they have achieved their 10 years as cardinal deacons. The six cardinal deacons who were eligible were: Cardinals Agostino Cacciavillan, Sergio Sebastiani, Zenon Grocholewski, Jorge María Mejía, Wally Kasper & Roberto Tucci.

On Monday, February 21, 2011, most likely by design (given its significance as the 10th anniversary), an Ordinary Public Consistory was scheduled for noon, Rome time, to canonize three previously blessed. 47 cardinals attended — including 5 of the jus optionis eligible cardinal deacons, with Wally being the exception. At the of the canonization the 5 subject cardinal deacons indicated their desire to be promoted. Wally’s request, in proxy, was conveyed by the secretary of the College of Cardinals, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro. The pope, per the norm, immediately accepted the 6 requests — promoting all 6 pro hac vice. [Again, this had been anticipated as of October.]

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, created in October 2003, is now the Protodeacon — given that Agostino Cacciavillan is now a cardinal priest.

The latest pro hac vice list is as follows:

Pro hac vice list by Anura Guruge

Feb 212011

by Anura Guruge

On Wednesday, February 21, 2001, John Paul II (#265), held his 8th cardinal-creating consistory [the last but one of his 9 cardinal-creating consistories]. It was on the exact 3-year anniversary of his prior one, in 1998.

The six remaining cardinal deacons created at this consistory, viz. Cardinals Agostino Cacciavillan, Sergio Sebastiani, Zenon Grocholewski, Jorge María Mejía, Wally Kasper & Roberto Tucci, will be eligible for jus optionis promotion to the order of cardinal priests as of February 21, 2011. [Refer to this post on just optionis and this recent one on Cardinal Sepe who was also created at this consistory.] The promotion to the order of cardinal priest is not automatic nor mandatory. Each cardinal deacon, individually, must petition the pope for the promotion. The availability of ‘tituli‘ Roman church titles is not a factor per se. All the cardinal deacons could be promoted with their existing deaconries elevated to cardinal priest ‘titles’ pro hac vice . [Refer to this post for current vacancies and pro hac vice titles in use.] Right now there are 5, possibly 6, unused titles. Plus, the pope can create more — as he did at his last consistory on November 20, 2010. [All six requested promotion and were elevated, pro hac vice, on Monday, February 21, 2011. See new post.]

List of all 56 cardinal-creating consistories since 1901 -- by Anura Guruge

List of all 56 cardinal-creating consistories since 1901 -- by Anura Guruge

This February 21, 2001 cardinal-creating consistory, by any measure, was a humdinger. 42 cardinals were created, with a total of 44 named (2 having being created in pectore (in the breast) at the 1998 consistory). This was the LARGEST cardinal-creating consistory ever. Prior to this the largest was Paul VI’s (#263) 3rd consistory on April 28, 1969, at which he created 34. Before that it was Pius XII’s (#261) 1st consistory on February 18, 1946 at which he created 32 — but this was the first cardinal creating consistory in over 8 years!

Immediately following this momentous consistory there were 135 cardinal electors, 15 above the 120 limit — with the total College of Cardinals at 184. That morning, Cardinal Antonio Maria Javierre Orta, had turned 80, thus making room for one elector. Then about 5 hours after the consistory concluded, 81-year old Venezuelan Cardinal José Alí Lebrún Moratinos died, in Venezuela, of cardiac arrest. Thus, within the day, the size of the College was down to 183 — though the electors stayed at 135.

The 42 cardinals created at this consistory were, very atypically, announced in two batches: 37 on Sunday, January 21, 2001, a month ahead of the consistory and 5 on Sunday, January 28, 2001. The two in pectore cardinals were also identified on January 28. Refer to the February 17, 2011 comments by Fr. Peter against this post for more background as to why there was this very unusal second announcement. A number of now familiar names were created at this consistory, including Re, Daoud, Dias, Maradiaga, Napier, Egan, Murphy-O’Connor, Husar, Lehmann, Dulles etc. Nine of the cardinals created at this consistory have since died.

February 21, 2001 cardinal-creating consistory data by Anura Guruge

February 21, 2001 cardinal-creating consistory data by Anura Guruge

This consistory, somewhat similar to Benedict XVI‘s last consistory, was heavy on curialist — 11 of the 42 (26%). [33% at the Nov. 2010 consistory.] Consequently, there was also a high number of cardinal deacons created — 12 [29%]. (54% at last consistory, which was very unusual.) There were 4 over-80 electors, and one very close to 80. The average age for all 42 was 69.7 years, compared to 72.1 for the last consistory. The youngest cardinal, was Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Opus Dei, at 57. [57 was the youngest at the last consistory too, Reinhard Marx.]

21 of the 42 (50%) cardinals created were from Europe. [15 out of 24, 62.5% at last consistory.] Asia had 3, with India getting 2 of those. [None from the Philippines!] The Americas got 14, 3 from the USA. That Jean Marcel Honoré was created a cardinal priest, though he was past 80, was unusual (though perfectly valid) — and still trip people up, who assume that he must have been a cardinal deacon.

Nine belonged to religious orders, and one was from Opus Dei. 24%. There were only 2 from orders at the last consistory.

Feb 172011

by Anura Guruge

Pius X in 1914 changed the rules for Cardinal Bishops (for the better)

There is a need for some clarification … most of it already done in much detail in my May 20, 2010 post. PLEASE read that if you are not familiar with these issues.

Pius X in 1914 precluded Cardinal Bishops from transferring between suburbicarian sees. Prior to that it was quite popular, since some sees generated better revenues than others. In 1914 Pius X also put a stop to this by pooling all the revenues from the sub. sees and then dishing them out equally – with the Dean getting two helpings, because he would also have Ostia. Page 118 of my ‘The Next Pope.’

So Cardinal Bishops cannot transfer within the order. But, as of 1965, they could be ELECTED (by their peers), Dean or Sub-Dean, when these positions became available.


On March 10, 1961, John XXIII with his Ad suburbicarias dioeceses changed jus optionis rules. Cardinals, independent of whether they were cardinal priests or cardinal deacons, could ‘opt’ for a suburbicarian see. In future, the ONLY way a car. priest or car. deacon could become a Cardinal Bishop was IF the pope promoted them. So it was no longer an option. It was an exclusive privilege of the pope. To demonstrate this John XXIII immediately promoted Giuseppe Antonio Ferretto to be a Cardinal Bishop. He had been created a cardinal priest 3 months earlier and was the most junior cardinal in the College as he was the last named of the 4 cardinals created at the January 16, 1961 consistory.

The pope can promote any cardinal priest or cardinal deacon to be a cardinal bishop. Benedict XVI did this with José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F.. He was created a cardinal deacon in Feb. 2001. On Feb. 24, 2009 he was promoted to Cardinal Bishop.

Within the order of Cardinal Bishops (not counting Dean and Sub-Dean), precedence is always as to when you became a Cardinal Bishop (not a cardinal). So date of creation is not a factor when it comes to Cardinal Bishops.


1983 Canon 350 §5 ONLY deals with side-way transfers for cardinal priests and cardinal deacons – IF they want a more ‘prestigious’ church or deaconry. This is purely an intra-order transfer. No promotion. Precedence stays the same.

As of 1961 Cardinal Priests have NO OPTION, whatsoever, of changing their order. The pope can promote them. That is it.


1983 Canon 350 §6 is NOT complete! It does NOT specify the 10 year, minimum wait time for Cardinal Deacons specified by Sixtus V in 1586! That is where you get the 10 year rule – as will be the case as of Feb. 21, 2011 when the 6 remaining cardinal deacons from the 2001 consistory can ask for promotion – to the order of priest.


There are ONLY three (3) scenarios whereby a cardinal deacon can now get promoted:

1/ Pope, as in the case with Ferretto or Martins, can promote a cardinal deacon to a vacant sub. see, making them a Bishop. Precedence within that order will be strictly based on when they became cardinal bishops – not their original date of creation.

2/ Per 1983 Canon 350 §6, a cardinal deacon (when they have been a cardinal deacon for at least 10 years) can request the pope that they want to be elevated to the order of cardinal priest. The elevation is automatic, though, as with all things, the pope could delay it or turn it down! Once elevated, their precedence is back-dated, as if they were created cardinal priests in the first place – rather than deacons. So they get precedence over priests named after them at their original consistory. This is spelled out in the canon – what is missing being the 10 year wait time.

3/ The pope, as he did with Sepe, can promote a cardinal deacon to a cardinal priest. This is different to being promoted to cardinal bishop. In that case, precedence is based on when the promotion happens. IN REALITY this scenario is NOT covered by Canon Law! Hence the debate here. It is NOT the same as Canon 350 §6. [It is not even close to Canon 350 §5]. We, Marko, me, GCatholic and now ‘The-Tidings’ ALL think that precedence will be the same as Canon 350 §6. But it is a very different scenario – closer to promotion to Car. Bishop than to after 10 year jus optionis preferment. So, in reality this scenario is NOT covered.

Feb 142011

by Dr. Marko B. of Croatia (with background annotations by Anura Guruge).

Regular readers of this blog will be very familiar with ‘Marko B.’ — who is also the author of this Nov. 12, 2010 essay.

If you are not familiar with the precedence rules for the College of Cardinals and jus optionis please read this May 30, 2010 post (which just happens to mention Cardinal Sepe’s scenario as an example — as if anticipating this issue). On February 21, 2011 we will have 6 cardinal deacons eligible for jus optionis promotion to the order of cardinal priests. So this issue raised by Marko is extremely germane and timely. There will be a separate post on the 6 preferment-eligible cardinal deacons later this week.


Cardinal Sepe short-changed on due precedence

Cardinal Sepe short-changed on due precedence

Dr. Marko:



I recently looked at Salvador Miranda’s precedence list [The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church] of cardinals: http://www2.fiu.edu/~mirandas/orders.htm.
Then I realized that the list is wrong, at least as far as I know, considering Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe.

As far as I know, when a cardinal deacon is promoted to the order of priests, the precedence list is formed according to the consistory sheet list, as the cardinal were always a member of the order of priests. [Anura: This is indeed the case per 1983 Canon Law 350 § 6, THOUGH interestingly there is no mention of Sepe’s scenario per se, i.e., a deacon promoted not per ‘his choice after 10 years’ but at the pleasure of the Pontiff.]
In my opinion, Sepe should be placed between Pujats and Dias, not between Honore and Scola. Agostino Vallini, also promoted to the order of priests is placed exactly where he should be: in front of Urosa Savino.

And it seems to me that Salvador thinks my opinion is correct, but Annuario Pontificio 2010 says otherwise. [Anura: Annuario Pontificio 2010 is NOT an official Vatican publication and as far as I know there has never been a papal edict granting the Annuario infallibility.]

The error concerns cardinal Crescenzio Sepe. According to his biographical data (http://www2.fiu.edu/~mirandas/bios-s.htm#Sepe), he was created cardinal on February 21, 2001 (http://www2.fiu.edu/~mirandas/consistories-xx.htm#JohnPaulII).

The was listed as the 7th of the 42 created cardinals and was created cardinal deacon. However, he was automatically elevated to cardinal priest, with his deaconry being elevated pro hac vice to title, when he was transferred to the metropolitan see of Naples.

Here I see an error int he precedence list: you situated cardinal Sepe between Jean Honoré (2001, #41) and Angelo Scola (2003, #8), which would make Sepe the „youngest“ cardinal priest (at present) of the 2001 consistory. But cardinals Sepe is at present the ‘most senior’ of all cardinal priests created in 2001, and he should be placed between Pujats (1998, #22) and Dias (2001, #14).

As for other 13 cardinals created in 2001 and listed before Dias:

1. Giovanni Battista Re, created cardinal priest –> Cardinal BISHOP.
2. François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, DECEASED.
3. Agostino Cacciavillan, still DEACON (currectly the PROTODEACON).
4. Sergio Sebastiani, still DEACON.
5. Zenon Grocholewski, still DEACON.
6. José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., created cardinal deacon –> Cardinal BISHOP.
7. Crescenzio Sepe, created c. deacon –> C. PRIEST.
8. Jorge María Mejía, still DEACON.
9. Ignace Moussa I Daoud, PATRIARCH.
10. Mario Francesco Pompedda, DECEASED.
11. A German cardinal who is still a DEACON.
12. Johannes Joachim Degenhardt, DECEASED
13. Antonio José González Zumárraga, DECEASED.
14. Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, created C. PRIEST.

which means that Pujats is followed by Sepe, and then Sepe by Dias.

Gcatholic.com, http://www.gcatholic.com/hierarchy/cardinals-alive-precedence.htm, does have the precedence in the right order.

Feb 102011

by Anura Guruge

Drop in cardinal electors in the coming months by Anura Guruge

Drop in cardinal electors in the coming months

On February 06, 2011 when Filipino, Ricardo Jamin Vidal turned 80 there were a total of 119 cardinal electors, 69 created by John Paul II (#265) and 50 created by Benedict XVI (#266); i.e., 42% Benedict creations.

On February 12, 2011 when Spain’s Agustín Garcia-Gasco Vicente turns 80 there will be 118 cardinal electors, 69 created by John Paul II and 49 by Benedict XVI.

When Vidal turned 80 on February 6, the number of living cardinals created by John Paul II (from his epic, record-setting 231) became evenly split between electors and non-electors, 69 electors & 69 non-electors. When this was pointed out, some started talking about when the majority of electors would be those created by Benedict XVI. Well, anybody who was motivated enough could have started working this out using this list. In reality little, if anything, is likely to be impacted at the next conclave by having a John Paul II or Benedict XVI majority, due to two key reasons:

  1. Given that when it came to doctrine and the love for traditionalism there is very little that separates the two popes, one could persuasively argue that there can’t be that much difference in the fundamental outlook of the cardinals created by these two proudly conservative popes — though it is possible that Benedict might favor those even more to the ‘right’ than did his predecessor.
  2. Given the June 11, 2007 Benedict XVI amendment to John Paul II’s 1996 Universi Dominici Gregis, you always need, in all scenarios, including the run-offs, a two-thirds majority for a new pope to be elected. Hence, a simple majority, though a good start, isn’t enough to sway a papal election.

Barring a spate of unexpected deaths (or the even more improbable case of mass resignations (given that the last resignation was in 1927)) we will MOST LIKELY to have another cardinal creating consistory before Benedict creations become the majority in the papal electorate. A part of the reason being that some of the current Benedict electors are also going to be turning 80 in the near future … with the next elector to turn 80 indeed been a Benedict XVI creation. Also by November 23, 2012, just after the two year anniversary of the last cardinal creating consistory we will again be down to 99 (if not less) cardinal electors. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having 99 or even 79 electors, there is this new belief that we need in excess of 110 electors to make a conclave legitimate — even though only 3 popes have been elected by electorates larger than 80.

So here are all the charts that you need. Enjoy. Notice that if there is no consistory, deaths or resignations it will be Spring 2014 before Benedict XVI’s electors become the majority.

cardinal elector cut over between John Paul II and Benedict XVI by Anura Guruge

cardinal electors statistics for last two popes by Anura Guruge

Look at the last 3 columns. That shows how the numbers change.

The aging of the cardinal electors by Anura Guruge

Feb 062011

by Anura Guruge

Of the 201 cardinals alive, 138 [69%] were created by John Paul II (#265).

On February 6, 2011 one of these John Paul II cardinals, the Filipino, Ricardo Jamin Vidal turned 80 and became a non-elector. When this happened, the 138 John Paul II cardinals became evenly split between electors and non-electors, 69 each. This will change again in 6 days when another John Paul creation becomes a non-elector. Then it would be 68 electors, 70 non-electors.

Currently, until February 12, there are 119 electors — 69 John Paul II creations and the rest, 50, created by Benedict XVI (#266).

The full statistics of the College of Cardinals is listed here.

Feb 062011

by Anura Guruge

Golden statue of the Virgin Mary in Manila

Cardinal Ricardo Jamin Vidal, Archbishop Emeritus of Cebú, turned 80 on February 6, 2011. Now, the The Philippines, the 3rd most populous Catholic country in the world, with 75.5 million Catholics, only has one cardinal elector!

This was a topic that was discussed, with some passion, in these pages prior to and after the November 20, 2010 cardinal creating consistory with two Filipino contributors pleading the inequity in the system — particularly when Sri Lanka, with only 1.4 million Catholics, got a cardinal.

So on behalf of my friends in the Philippines, I will point out:
The United States with 7 million LESS Catholics has 13 electors.

The Philippines has more Catholics than France and Spain put together. France has 4 and Spain has 5 electors, giving them a total of 9 — the Philippines has 1.

The Philippines has 5(.4) times more Catholics than Canada, but Canada has twice as many electors.

Manila Cathedral

The Philippines has 3 times more Catholics than Germany, but Germany has 6 electors. The Philippines has one.

Poland with 34.6 million Catholics has 4. The Philippines with 75.5 million Catholics has 1.


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