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Cardinal (Catholicism)/Cardinals in pectore or secret cardinals

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Cardinals in pectore or secret cardinals

In addition to the named cardinals, the pope may name secret cardinals or cardinals in pectore (Latin for in the breast).

During the Western Schism many cardinals were created by the contending popes. Beginning with the reign of Pope Martin V, cardinals were created without publishing their names until later, termed creati et reservati in pectore.[1]

A cardinal named in pectore is known only to the pope; not even the cardinal so named is necessarily aware of his elevation, and in any event cannot function as a cardinal while his appointment is in pectore. Today, cardinals are named in pectore to protect them or their congregations from reprisals if their identities were known.

If conditions change, so that the pope judges it safe to make the appointment public, he may do so at any time. The cardinal in question then ranks in precedence with those raised to the cardinalate at the time of his in pectore appointment. If a pope dies before revealing the identity of an in pectore cardinal, the cardinalate expires. Some speculate that the pope could leave instructions in writing, perhaps in his will, for the appointment to be made known after his death; but it is difficult to imagine a case in which the pope would consider that his own death would remove the obstacle in the way of publishing the name.

Of the 232 cardinals that Pope John Paul II elevated, four were named in pectore.[2][3] The identities of three of these were subsequently revealed:

  • Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei, Bishop of Shanghai, People's Republic of China - made cardinal 1979, revealed 1991, died 2000.
  • Marian Jaworski, Archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine - made cardinal 1998, revealed 2001.
  • Jānis Pujāts, Archbishop of Riga, Latvia - made cardinal 1998, revealed 2001.
  • The fourth cardinal was created in 2003. John Paul II did not reveal this cardinal's identity prior to his death, or in the 15-page testament he wrote during his papacy and which was released after his death. Consequently, this cardinalate expired. Some suspect that this "secret Cardinal" was Archbishop Stanisław Dziwisz, a close, longtime friend of John Paul II. However, he was made a cardinal at the 24 March 2006 consistory anyway, as was announced by Pope Benedict XVI on 22 February 2006.

  1. "Consistories of Martin V - July 23, 1423 (II), Note". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. 
  2. "His Holiness John Paul II Short Biography". Holy See Press Office. 30 June 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  3. "His Holiness John Paul II Biography". Holy See Press Office. 30 June 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 

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