And the new Camerlengo is…

I just returned to my dwelling to find that the Holy Father…

Accepted the resignation from the office of camerlengo of Holy Roman Church presented by Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo in accordance with the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis," and has called to succeed him in the same office, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.



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  1. Stephen says:

    Um…what is a “camerlengo”? And is it good that he wants Bertone to succeed him? I’ve not a clue!

  2. Geoffrey says:

    The Camerlengo is a Cardinal who is the “chamberlain of the papal court.” Aside from his regular non-camerlengo duties (such as in this case, being the secretary of state), the camerlengo comes on the scene when a pope dies. It is the Carinal Camerlengo who confirms the pope’s death, destroys the pope’s ring and seals, and closes the papal apartnments. He also organizes the papal funeral rites, summons the College of Cardinals to Rome, and convenes the conclave. He is basically “in charge” during the interregnum… his coat of arms (differenced heraldically during this period) is used on the official documents issued during that time, etc.

    I’ve always liked Cardinal Bertone, so I think it’s good, but that’s just me!

  3. Jordan Potter says:

    As a little bit of dinner party trivia, “Camerlengo” is cognate with “Chamberlain.” Camer = Chamber, Lengo = Lain

  4. Tom says:

    Stephen rhetorically(?) asked, “[I]is it good that he wants Bertone to succeed him?”

    If Pope Benedict wants Cardinal Bertone to succeed him, then he would appoint him Coadjutor [Bishop of Rome] with Right of Succession.

  5. Andrew W says:

    A question: Has there ever been a Pope that was the Camerlengo for his successor? I know this is not like winning an Iowa straw poll, but just curious on the statistics here.

  6. Andrew W says:

    Oops… that was to be “predecessor”, not successor! Otherwise the clear answer would have been: NO!

  7. J. Cassani says:

    I believe that Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli was camerlengo for Pope Pius XI

  8. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    Wasn’t Cardinal Ratzinger the camerlango for John Paul II?

  9. swmichigancatholic says:

    No, Cardinal Somalo was. Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, was the Dean of Cardinals.

  10. swmichigancatholic says:

    There is no “right of succession.” A pope cannot name his successor explicitly like that.

  11. Geoffrey says:

    Some trivia…

    “In past ages, a dying pope was expected to preach his final assessment of his Church and, if strong enough in his last hours to do so, to signify whom he thinks worthy to succeed him on the chair of Peter. This advice, although always sought, was seldom accepted” (The Church Visible, James-Charles Noonan, Jr.).

  12. Jordan Potter says:

    Well, I believe Saints Peter and Paul appointed St. Linus as the second Bishop of Rome, so that would be one instance at least of a Pope appointing his own successor. But it is true that under the current law, it is impossible for a Pope to appoint his own successor. Popes have been elected by the Roman Church from time immemorial.

  13. Michael C says:

    So does that mean Bertone would have the power to restore some of the solemnity to the Papal funeral rites (ie. more than just one candle) or is that the MC?

  14. I thought the Dean of the College of Cardinals was “in charge” during the interregnum.

  15. Geoffrey says:

    It seems that each pope can plan their own funeral. It was his late holiness Paul VI who decreased the candles from 40 to the one Paschal Candle. John Paul the Great planned his own as well. I loved the chanting of the Litany of the Saints during the procession. Sancta Maria… ora pro eo… Still gives me chills!

  16. Geoffrey says:

    I think the Dean of the College of Cardinals more or less organizes all the cardinals, whereas the camerlengo is the administrator of the whole Church. I think.

  17. Actually, the Pope does have the authority even to appoint his successor. His authority in the Church is supreme. Popes have appointed successors in the past, and it has not always turned out very well. That doesn’t mean it might not turn out well in future times, of course. However, appointing a successor would also undermine the Pope’s moral force as legislator. Even though you are, in a sense, above the law, if you want law to be respected from the top to the bottom of the Church you must adhere to your own guidelines. A Pope need not change laws before acting, but he is ill-advised not to.

  18. Michael says:

    The Pope’s authority may be supreme, but it ends at his death, so I do not see how he could appoint his own successor.

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