Cardinals promoted

I missed this yesterday.

VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2009 (VIS) – The Holy Father promoted:

 – Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, to the order of bishops, assigning him the suburbicarian see of Palestrina.

 – Cardinal Agostino Vallini, his vicar general for the diocese of Rome, to the order of priests. Cardinal Vallini retains his diaconate of St. Peter Damian ai Monti, elevated "pro hac vice" to presbyteral title.

The College of Cardinals is still divided into the three orders of deacon, priest and bishops, along the lines of the ancient Roman "titles".  The closest coworkers of the Bishop of Rome were at the forerunners of parishes, the ancient "titles".  They were entrusted to deacons and priests, and those distinctions still remain.  Others had dioceses in a close cluster around the City.

Curial cardinals start out as Cardinal Deacons.  They can be promoted after a number of years have passed.  Cardinals who are ordinaries of dioceses start out as Cardinal Priests.  Some Cardinals who hold key positions are made Cardinal Bishops.  Instead of having a Roman church they have one of the Suburbicarian Dioceses, near Rome, as their "title".  Those dioceses in modern times have their own bishops, however.  This is an honorary thing.  The Cardinal Dean always also has Ostia along with another of these titular dioceses.

One of the perks for a Cardinal Bishop is that he can sign his name with a +.  I remember at a gathering some years ago with the titular Cardinal Bishop a Suburbicarian diocese, Joseph Card. Ratzinger, we heard about the +.  He said that when he became Archbishop of Munich, he was +Joseph Ratzinger.  He became +Joseph Card. Ratzinger when elevated to the College.  When he was moved to Rome to be Prefect of the CDF he was then Joseph Card. Ratzinger without the +.  When he was made Cardinal Bishop it was back to +Joseph Card. Ratzinger.

Little perks as signs.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. TNCath says:

    Very interesting! Little things DO mean a lot! Thanks for the information. I never knew this. I always thought that all bishops were entitled to the “+” before their names. I will look more closely in the future. When the Pope signs his name, he uses the abbreviation “PP” after his name and number. Does this stand simply for “Pope” or something else such as “Pontifex P_____”? Just wondering.

  2. Tim Ferguson says:


    I once proposed the question of what “pp” stands for after the pontifical signature on a canon law list. For two months following, canonist after canonist – some quite esteemed – responded with the “definitive” answer. Some said that Paul VI averred it stood for “pater pauperum” – father of the poor. Some said it was an abbreviation of “Pater Pastorum” – father of shepherds, or “Pastor Pastorum” – shepherd of shepherds. Some argued for “Pater et Pontifex” – father and pontiff; others for “Pontifex et Presbyter” – pontiff and priest. Some said it was simply an abbreviation of “papa.” Some said it was an adoption of the pagan title of a Roman priestly cult “pater patrum” – father of fathers, and further claimed that the word “papa” itself is an abbreviation of that title.

    The end result of the discussion was that it has been a part of the papal signature for so long – going back well into the middle ages – and has been used in abbreviated form exclusively, so that no one truly knows what it originally stood for (though, personally, I feel the notion that it is an abbreviation of “Papa” is the most logical).

  3. Tim Ferguson says:

    by the way – I just learned that Benedict XVI is the first Cardinal Bishop elected to the papacy since Pius VIII in 1829, and the first Dean of the Sacred College elected Pope since Paul IV in 1559.

    see – wikipedia is good for something.

  4. A great little tutorial on the hierarchy of cardinals, Father Z. Thanks for posting this. I suspect we will see a couple new American cardinals elevated in the next consistory — Archbishops Dolan and Burke being shoo-ins. I would be curious to know your thoughts about how likely Archbishop Wuerl is to be elevated, too.

  5. prof. basto says:

    Pp. simply stands for “Papae”.

    Sometimes in Latin Documents, the a long phrase will appear reffering to the Pope, such as “Sanctissimi Domini Nostri Domini Ioannis Divina Providentia PP XXIII Constitutio Apostolica…”, which simply means “The Apostolic Constitution of our most holy lord, lord John XIII, by Divine Providence, Pope”. When reading the PP alloud, one would say “Papae”.

  6. Luigi says:

    Patrick wrote: “Archbishops Dolan and Burke being shoo-ins.”

    I had heard that customarily (and only as a matter of custom, not absolute) a sitting Archbishop is typically not given the Red Hat while the emeritus cardinal archbishop is still alive. So Dolan will await Egan’s death, as will O’Brien in Baltimore hae to wait until Keeler’s death if it is to happen at all, etc.

    Is there anything to this?

  7. prof. basto says:


    The custom is not to wait for the emeritus to die; it is to wait for the emeritus to cease being a Cardinal-elector.

    So, if the emeritus Cardinal Archbishop is over 80, the sitting Archbishop is likely to get a red hat; if the emeritus Cardinal Archbishop is not yet 80, then the sitting Archbishop is likely to have to wait.

  8. Faith says:

    and I always thought the “+” meant the person was deceased!

  9. dcs says:

    and I always thought the “+” meant the person was deceased!

    The symbol used for that is a dagger (†) and would follow the name rather then precede it. One might write something like St. John Neumann (†1860).

  10. contrarian says:

    PP is Pater Patruum (Father of Fathers), an ancient title of the pope.

  11. Prof. Basto says:

    I forgot to add something,

    Sometimes phrases like “Sanctissimi Domini Nostri Domini Ioannis Divina Providentia Papae XXIII Constitutio Apostolica…” , will be shortened to SSmi. D. N. D. Ioannis PP. XXIII Constitutio Apostolica”, and other times it it will appear with the words in full, which just goes to show that PP. or Pp. is an abreviation for “Papae”, just like “SSmi” stands for “Sanctissimi”, D.N. stands for “Domini Nostri”, and D.N.D. Stands for “Domini Nostri, Domini…”.

    If PP. were to stand for more than one word (e.g., if it were to stand for Pater Patrum, as sometimes suggested), then the abbreviation would be “P.P. or P. P.” not “PP.”. the existance of just one period mark shows that the abbreviation is of one word only.

    The abbreviation for Pontifex Maximus is P.M. and not PM. because its stands for two words. Thus PP. cannot stand for two words.

  12. Rob F. says:

    Thank you Tim Ferguson and Prof. Bastro for your very illuminating answers. Now let me muddy things up a bit with a few things I’ve noticed about Latin abbreviations. In the liturgy, Ss. is commonly used to abbreviate the plural “Sancti”/”Sanctorum”, and SS. is commonly used to abbreviate the superlative “Sanctissimum”/”Sanctissimi”. From this I conclude that Pp. would stand for “pontifices”, and PP. would stand for (wait for it!) “Pontificissimus”.

    No, Obviously that would be ridiculous. The sober way to say “Pontificissimus” is simply “Summus Pontifex”. So I always thought that “Summus Pontifex” was what PP. stood for.

  13. Greg Smisek says:

    Professor Basto: Have you conjectured the full word Papae based on the oral practice or do you have an example of it written out in full? What’s your source for the oral practice of speaking Papae for “PP.” in the phrase you cited? Assuming you are correct, the form of the word in the signature would be, of course, Papa, not Papae: Benedictus Papa Sextus Decimus.

    This is yet another example where J-C Noonan’s The Church Visible presents something as a fact without any indication of a disputed matter and citing no source: “the initials P.P., which represent the papal title Pope and Pontiff. This practice has been in effect since the eighth century” (p. 379).

    This and Rob F.’s comment bring up the matter of whether punctuation and capitalization of the postnomial PP are certain. A sampling of recent signatures shows that use varied, even for the same Pontiff:

    Benedict XVI – all caps, no period

    John Paul II – lowercase, no period

    John Paul II – all caps (I think), no period

    John Paul II – all caps, final period

    Paul VI – all caps, no period

    Paul VI – all caps, final period

  14. Rob F. says:

    Greg Smisek:

    I’m not sure how reliable a signature would be to judge these matters. Signatures are highly personal. And they do not have to pass the scrutiny of editors! I would be more interested in published editions for recent evidence.

    Of course, if Noonan is right, and the practice dates to the 8th century, then manuscript evidence will be needed to discover the origins. Another problem is that punctuation conventions tend to change quite a bit even from century to century. A practice over a thousand years hold will be hard to untangle.

  15. prof. basto says:


    The requested examples of the title in full with the full word “Papa” or the form “Papae” (depending on the syntatic function of the word in each sentence) between the regnal name and the regnal number:

  16. Greg Smisek says:

    Prof. Basto:

    I think “Papa” is a reasonable origin for PP., but I still think you are more certain than your sources permit:

    SOURCE 1: Possibly useful, but this is a bookseller’s catalog entry of the title page of a papal document, and “Papae” could be here either because the seller or printer saw PP. and decided to expand it.

    SOURCE 2: The Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the only official version of documents of the Holy See, does not have the opening phrase “SANCTISSIMI DOMINI NOSTRI IOANNIS DIVINA PROVIDENTIA PAPAE XXIII” (vol. 54, pp. 126-135). Wherever it came from, it is not officially part of the document.

    SOURCE 3: Another bookseller catalog entry.

    SOURCE 4: A library catalog entry.

    SOURCE 5: This is a preface written in 2004 by the persons who created this digital edition of the Clementine Vulgate. While I think highly of their project, this is in no wise an authoritative source for this argument.

    Even if sources 1, 2, and 4 were shown to be genuine, we still couldn’t be sure that the author/editor intended the given phrase to be identical to the phrase with PP. in it. Or that their interpretation is the only correct one.

  17. Greg Smisek says:

    Rob F.:

    “I would be more interested in published editions for recent evidence.”

    The Acta Apostolicae Sedis (where the official version of papal documents are printed), represents the pope’s signature at the end of each document in the form “IOANNES PP. XXIII” (same as on the Holy See’s website). The section title, when at the top of the page in mixed case is “Acta Ioannis Pp. XXIII”.

    “In the liturgy, Ss. is commonly used to abbreviate the plural “Sancti”/”Sanctorum”, and SS. is commonly used to abbreviate the superlative “Sanctissimum”/”Sanctissimi”.”

    This does not hold in any of the Missale Romanum editions I examined from 1962, 1920, 1911, and 1570.

    In the 1962 edition scanned and posted at,,, SS.mi, SS.mum, SS.mae (etc.) is used only for the superlative adjective. Outside of the rubrics and text of the Mass formularies, the form SSma (~ over the m) and the like is also used for the superlative adjective, e.g. the many references to the Praefatio de SSma {with tilde} Trinitate. Ss. or SS. in an all-caps heading, without any word ending appended, is used only for the plural adjective, except for two instances of SS. TRINITATE in headings, which appears to be just an editorial oversight.

    In the 1920 edition I consulted, SSma Trinitate (no period, no tilde) is the form used for the superlative. The plural is Ss. or SS. according to the capitalization of the phrase.

    In the 1911 edition I consulted, SS. (all caps) is used for both superlative and plural, and it is the only convention for superlative and plural.

    The interesting thing about the 1570 edition (editio princeps, Sodi’s reproduction) is that I couldn’t find SS. or Ss. used for either superlative or plural. It may be there somewhere (it’s a bit of a chore to read), but this edition typically does not prefix sanctus, -a, -um or sanctissimus, -a, -um to the names of feasts. One place I looked even used the positive, not superlative, for the Holy Eucharist.

Comments are closed.