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.

  4 Responses to “Follow-Up To Feb. 14 Cardinal Sepe Precedence Post”

  1. The problem arised while I was looking at Salvador Miranda’s precedence list. It is not only the matter of Sepe, but also of Vallini. Not the same logic was applied for these two cardinals, who were created deacons but promoted to priests within several years. There might be a reason for placing Sepe to a position different from where I expect him to be. but Vallini IS placed exactly where he shoould be placed according to my logic. So, why Vallini and not Sepe. What is the algorithm? I think the answer is: an error by someone preparing the Annuario Pontifico.

  2. I am sure it is an AP error. But, interesting that it is NOT covered by the Canon! So maybe somebody COULD say Vallini is in the wrong place. I have always agreed with your logic. That is what I had thought TOO, but until I checked the Canon, I had not realized that:
    a/ It does NOT cater for papal promotions outside of jus optionis.

    b/ That it does NOT mention the 10 year wait-time for jus optionis.

    Always makes me think, “what are those highly paid Canon Lawyers at the Vatican smoking?” It is bad enough that UDG has ‘mistakes,’ but you would think they would try to get Canon Law as inclusive as possible without loopholes. The joys of absolute, authoritative power. In the US both UDG and 1983 Code would have challenged in multiple courts.


  3. Meanwhile…have the revenues from the suburbicarian dioceses actually continued to flow to the Cardinal Bishops since they were removed as functioning ordinaries by John XXIII in Suburbicariis Sedibus?…they each have their own non-titular bishops now,except for Ostia being administered ex officio by the Cardinal Vicar General of Rome.

  4. The 1914 edict about the pooling of the revenues still apply as far as I know. The suffragan bishops who run the see get a stipend of the very top. Haven’t seen anywhere about this changing.

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button