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Church History Forum: Episcopal Ordination of the Pope-Elect

by Catherine Frakas 03 Nov 2001

Episcopal Ordination of the Pope-Elect QUESTION from Jason on June 27, 2002
On the matter of the question asked by Mr. Basto, about the assumption of the Papal dignity by a Pope elect that is not yet Bishop, I believe that not even the Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis gives a clear solution.
Section 88 seems to suggest that no one is true Pope before episcopal ordination:
88. After his acceptance, the person elected, IF HE HAS ALREADY RECEIVED EPISCOPAL ORDINATION, is immediately Bishop of the Church of Rome, true Pope and Head of the College of Bishops. He thus acquires and can exercise full and supreme power over the universal Church.
If the PERSON ELECTED is not already a Bishop, he shall immediately be ordained Bishop.
(note that the if is used on the first paragraph, and that in the second paragraph the language used is not newly elected Pope, but person elected).
Moreover, section 89 states that the Pope elect is not to receive homage before being ordained Bishop:
89. When the other formalities provided for in the Ordo Rituum Conclavis have been carried out, the Cardinal electors approach the newly-elected Pope in the prescribed manner, in order to make an act of homage and obedience. An act of thanksgiving to God is then made, after which the senior Cardinal Deacon announces to the waiting people that the election has taken place and proclaims the name of the new Pope, who immedi- ately thereafter imparts the Apostolic Blessing Urbi et Orbi from the balcony of the Vatican Basilica.
If the person elected is NOT already a Bishop, homage is paid to him and the announcement of his election is made ONLY AFTER he has been solemnly ordained Bishop.
On the other hand, section 90 speaks of newly elected Supreme Pontiff, and not of Pope elect
90. If the person elected resides outside Vatican City, the norms contained in the Ordo Rituum Conclavis are to be observed.
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.
Also, Pope Paul VI, in the motu proprio for the restriction of the use of the pallium, Inter Examina Episcopalis, states:
In the case of the episcopal ordination of a pope-elect who is not yet a bishop, wearing of the pallium is granted by law to the Cardinal Dean of the College of Cardinals11 or else to that cardinal to whom the rite of ordination is assigned according to the Apostolic Constitution Romano Pontifici eligendo.
Thus, Pope Paul VI used the expression Pope-elect, and not Pope.
But then again, the Catholic Enciclopedia states that jurisdiction is acquired from the moment of election.
And Pope Pius XII, in his Constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, does not place the acquisition of Supreme Power by the new Pope under the condition that he be Bishop:
101. Hoc consensu praestito intra terminum, quatenus opus sit, prudenti arbitrio Cardinalium per maiorem votorum numerum determinandum, illico electus est verus Papa, atque actu plenam absolutamque iurisdictionen, supra totum orbem acquirit et exercere potest. (50) Hinc, si quis litteras super negotiis quibuscumque confectas, quae a Romano Pontifice ante coronationem suam emanaverint, audeat impugnare, excommunicationis sententia, ipso facto incurrendae, eum innodamus.
Therefore, I believe that the question is not clear even to the Church. My personal opinion is that the person is posesses jurisdiction as from the accepted election, just as abbots nullius, without being Bishops, possess jurisdiction equivalent to that of Bishops, by virtue of their canonical appointment.
Nevertheless, I think that the Pope elect has jurisdiction from the moment of the election, but cannot be said to be Pope until after episcopal ordination is received. The pope elect who is not yet a Bishop has the jurisdiction of a pope, but is not a pope.
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome. One cannot be Pope without being Bishop of Rome, just as one cannot be Bishop of Rome without being the Pope.
ANSWER by Q & A Staff on June 30, 2002 Dear Jason,
thank you for your contribution to this question.
God bless, .
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