Can a Religious Priest become a Bishop, Cardinal or Pope?


Just like the question states. I’ve wondered how far Priests in Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ can go “up the ladder” so to speak.


i don’t know but maybe


I guess I need to add the normal God disclaimer here: If God should call them would they be able to?

I.E. is there something preventing there promotion. Like how a married Deacon could never become a Bishop while married and his wife is still living.


Any religious priest can become a bishop if selected by the Holy Father. However, the new bishop remains a religious. He is a full member of his community and his vows are in effect until the day that he dies.

Under the old canon law, prior to 1983, when a religious priest was consecrated bishop his vows were dispensed and he was secularized. In effect all bishops were secular bishops.

This is not longer the case. The vows are not dispensed. His obligations to his community continue, except those that prevent him from exercising his episcopal office.

He continues to wear the habit of his religious community, if it wears a habit. He usually wears the pectoral cross over his habit.

When he retires he returns to his community. In the event that there is a conflict, the diocese provides for his retirement, but the vows remain in effect and the retired bishop remains a member of his community until death. He simply lives exclaustrated (outside the cloister).

A religious bishop may not hold office within his religious community, because it is a conflict of interest. Religious communities have to be free of all intervention by bishops in their internal affairs. They answer to bishops only when they work for the bishop and only about the ministry that they perform for the bishop, not on matters that are under the jurisdiction of the major superior.

If the religious bishop were to be elevated to the cardinalate, he can vote in papal elections until age 80. If he is elected pope, that makes the Pope a religious pope. We have not had religious popes for several hundred years.


JR :slight_smile:


Any man who is not impeded may become a Bishop. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome and a Cardinal is an honorary title, not a special order of the Priesthood.

There are many religious who are currently Bishops - Archbishops Sean O’Malley (Boston) and Charles Chaput (Denver) are Capuchins and Bishop Anders Arborelius (Stockholm) is a Discalced Carmelite. In my own Diocese, Bishop George Murry (Youngstown) is a Jesuit. (those are the ones that come immediately to mind)

There have been Popes from Religious Orders. There have been Popes who were Benedictines, Dominicans, Augustinians, etc. Pope John Paul II was a Third Order Carmelite. The reason that Pope’s were a white cassock now is because Pope Saint Pius V was a Dominican and continued to wear his religious habit after becoming Pope - and every Pope after has donned white.

Any man, not impeded, can be elevated to a Bishop. Saint Ambrose was only a Catechumen when he was made Bishop of Milan - he was quickly baptized and given the Minor and Major Orders. Pope John XIX was a layman when he was made Pope. Again, he was quickly rushed through the Minor and Major Orders.


Interesting thank you :thumbsup:


Just a note:

Opus Dei is no religious order and their priests are considered to be secular clergy. It would not suit the charisma and spirituality of the Work if there was a congregation connected to it.

I say this because it is quite a common mistake.:o


All the way, if it’s God’s Will.

In Carmel,

Br. Allen


Can a diocesan priest become Pope without being a bishop or Msgr. first if the present Pope so elects him?


[quote="Rome_Always, post:9, topic:126627"]
Can a diocesan priest become Pope without being a bishop or Msgr. first if the present Pope so elects him?


The current pope doesn't elect his successor. Normally a new pope is elected because the previous one has died. In the current case, Pope Benedict is resigning but he will not vote in the conclave that elects the new pope.

This site isn't great but does give some info about a conclave:

I read somewhere how long it's been since a non-cardinal was elected pope, but I can't put my finger on it now. Hundreds of years, in any case. So in theory it could happen but it is not likely.

closed #11

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