In pectore
In pectore is a term used in the Catholic Church to refer to appointments to the College of Cardinals
College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church.A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory. It also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor...

 by the Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 when the name of the newly appointed cardinal is not publicly revealed (it is reserved by the Pope "in his bosom"). This right of the pope is rarely exercised, usually in circumstances where the pope wanted to make a statement for later historians about the honor due to a cleric, but did not want to endanger that same cleric in his present circumstances of persecution.

Cardinals appointed in pectore are not necessarily informed of their status. Such an appointee cannot function as a cardinal until his appointment is publicly announced, but once announced he enjoys seniority in the College calculated from the time of his appointment rather than from the announcement of that fact.

Popes may choose to keep cardinals' identities secret out of consideration for:
  • The person's personal safety, when they live under regimes hostile to Catholicism
    Anti-Catholicism is a generic term for discrimination, hostility or prejudice directed against Catholicism, and especially against the Catholic Church, its clergy or its adherents...

    , Christianity
    Persecution of Christians
    Persecution of Christians as a consequence of professing their faith can be traced both historically and in the current era. Early Christians were persecuted for their faith, at the hands of both Jews from whose religion Christianity arose, and the Roman Empire which controlled much of the land...

    , or religion in general.
  • The safety of the person's community, when it is feared that the public naming of a cardinal may lead to discrimination or hostility against Christians in general and/or Catholics in particular.

In pectore cardinals are eligible to participate in papal conclave
Papal conclave
A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, who then becomes the Pope during a period of vacancy in the papal office. The Pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church...

s only if they are publicly named by the Pope before his death. If he does not reveal their names, their cardinalate ceases upon the appointing pontiff's death. Four popes, Innocent X
Pope Innocent X
Pope Innocent X , born Giovanni Battista Pamphilj , was Pope from 1644 to 1655. Born in Rome of a family from Gubbio in Umbria who had come to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Innocent IX, he graduated from the Collegio Romano and followed a conventional cursus honorum, following his uncle...

, Benedict XIV
Pope Benedict XIV
Pope Benedict XIV , born Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, was Pope from 17 August 1740 to 3 May 1758.-Life:...

, Gregory XVI
Pope Gregory XVI
Pope Gregory XVI , born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, named Mauro as a member of the religious order of the Camaldolese, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 1831 to 1846...

 and Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

, were originally created as cardinals in pectore but all were published quite soon afterward.

Among areas where it is believed that in pectore cardinals, whose names were not later revealed, were named include the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 and, before the fall of the Soviet Union
History of the Soviet Union
The history of the Soviet Union has roots in the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, emerged as the main political force in the capital of the former Russian Empire, though they had to fight a long and brutal civil war against the Mensheviks, or Whites...

 and collapse of the Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

, in central
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...



In the early history of cardinals, all cardinals appointed were published as a matter of course. The first pope to appoint a cardinal in pectore was Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1534 to his death in 1549. He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation...

, when he named Girolamo Aleandro in this fashion on December 22, 1536, presumably because Aleandro's life would have been in danger if he were publicly named a cardinal. Cardinal Aleandro was published on March 13, 1538. Paul III named five other cardinals in pectore, but all of them were published relatively soon after being originally named.

The first Pope to create a cardinal in pectore without later publishing his name was Pope Pius IV
Pope Pius IV
Pope Pius IV , born Giovanni Angelo Medici, was Pope from 1559 to 1565. He is notable for presiding over the culmination of the Council of Trent.-Biography:...

, on February 26, 1561. Historians have always speculated about who unpublished in pectore cardinals were, and it is generally believed that this first unpublished in pectore cardinal was Daniele Matteo Alvise Barbaro
Daniele Barbaro
Daniele Matteo Alvise Barbaro was an Italian translator of, and commentator on, Vitruvius. He also had a significant ecclesiastical career, reaching the rank of Cardinal....

, whose appointment as a cardinal would have upset the English monarchy and caused hostilities unwanted by the pope.

Although in pectore appointments were not uncommon in the 17th century, all such appointments were published soon after being made until 1699, when Pope Innocent XII
Pope Innocent XII
Pope Innocent XII , born Antonio Pignatelli, was Pope from 1691 to 1700.-Biography:He was born in Spinazzola to one of the most aristocratic families of the Kingdom of Naples, which included many Viceroys, and ministers to the crown, and was educated at the Jesuit college in Rome.In his twentieth...

 reserved two cardinals that were never published. This trend continued until April 26, 1773, when Pope Clement XIV
Pope Clement XIV
Pope Clement XIV , born Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio Ganganelli, was Pope from 1769 to 1774. At the time of his election, he was the only Franciscan friar in the College of Cardinals.-Early life:...

 created as many as eleven cardinals in pectore but none were published.

Late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

As anti-Catholic hostility among various governments became common, in pectore appointments became much more common during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Whereas before 1777 all expirations of in pectore appointments had occurred because the pope making them died soon after, on June 23 of that year Pope Pius VI
Pope Pius VI
Pope Pius VI , born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, was Pope from 1775 to 1799.-Early years:Braschi was born in Cesena...

 created two cardinals in pectore and never revealed their names in the remaining 22 years of his papacy. He did the same seven years later for another cardinal.

Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII , born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, was a monk, theologian and bishop, who reigned as Pope from 14 March 1800 to 20 August 1823.-Early life:...

 created eleven cardinals in pectore; despite the anti-Church hostility of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, all of them were eventually published, as were Pope Leo XII
Pope Leo XII
Pope Leo XII , born Annibale Francesco Clemente Melchiore Girolamo Nicola Sermattei della Genga, was Pope from 1823 to 1829.-Life:...

's three in pectore appointments.

The outbreak of major revolutions in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 during the late 1820s, however, caused the proportion of in pectore appointments to all cardinal appointments to rise dramatically: Pope Pius VIII
Pope Pius VIII
Pope Pius VIII , born Francesco Saverio Castiglioni was Pope in 1829 and 1830.-Biography:He was born in Cingoli, Marche, the son of Count Ottavio Castiglioni and his wife Sanzia Ghislieri. He studied Canon law and, in 1800 became bishop of Montalto...

 created fourteen cardinals, but only six of them were ever published, whilst Pope Gregory XVI
Pope Gregory XVI
Pope Gregory XVI , born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, named Mauro as a member of the religious order of the Camaldolese, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 1831 to 1846...

 created as many as twenty-nine cardinals (out of a total of eighty-one) in pectore (of which six were unpublished).

After the Revolutions of 1848
Revolutions of 1848
The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, Springtime of the Peoples or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It was the first Europe-wide collapse of traditional authority, but within a year reactionary...

 subsided, in pectore appointments declined. Pius IX made only five such appointments out of 123 cardinals (all published within four years of creation), whilst Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

 named only seven cardinals (out of 147) in pectore, of whom all were subsequently revealed.

Modern Papacy

The only in pectore appointment by Pope Pius X
Pope Pius X
Pope Saint Pius X , born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was the 257th Pope of the Catholic Church, serving from 1903 to 1914. He was the first pope since Pope Pius V to be canonized. Pius X rejected modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox...

, António Mendes Belo
António Mendes Belo
Dom António I Mendes Belo was a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Patriarch of Lisbon.António Mendes Belo was born at São Pedro, Gouveia, , Portugal, son of Miguel Mendes Belo and wife Rosalina dos Santos de Almeida da Mota...

, was due to the revolution in Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 in 1910 and was revealed shortly before Pius died. World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 similarly produced an in pectore cardinal, appointed in 1916 by Benedict XV
Pope Benedict XV
Pope Benedict XV , born Giacomo Paolo Giovanni Battista della Chiesa, reigned as Pope from 3 September 1914 to 22 January 1922...

: Adolf Bertram, who was published after the war ended and who became a vigorous opponent of Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

. (Another in pectore cardinal was also appointed in 1916 and was never published.)

Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI , born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was Pope from 6 February 1922, and sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929 until his death on 10 February 1939...

 created only one cardinal in pectore, Federico Tedeschini
Federico Tedeschini
Federico Tedeschini was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Papal Datary in the Roman Curia from 1938 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1935 by Pope Pius XI.-Biography:...

 (who was nuncio
Nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomatic title, derived from the ancient Latin word, Nuntius, meaning "envoy." This article addresses this title as well as derived similar titles, all within the structure of the Roman Catholic Church...

 to Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 just before the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

) in 1933 (published 1935). Neither Pius XI nor Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 made any other in pectore appointments, either in European countries affected by the possibility of Marxist
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 revolutions and/or World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 or in any other countries.

With the threat of Communism lingering over Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and other parts of the globe, Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
-Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

 made three in pectore appointments on 28 March 1960 and never published them, creating the only other case of such an appointment expiring during the twentieth century. It is probable according to many sources that one was Josyf Slipyj, (re-)created cardinal and published by Paul VI in 1965.

Pope Paul VI made three in pectore appointments but eventually published all of them, including one (Iuliu Hossu
Iuliu Hossu
Iuliu Hossu was a Romanian Greek-Catholic bishop of the Cluj-Gherla Diocese and later cardinal and victim of the Communist regime...

) who died before his appointment was published; the other two were Štěpán Trochta
Štepán Trochta
Cardinal Štěpán Trochta was born on Cardinal Štěpán Trochta was born on Cardinal Štěpán Trochta was born on (March 26, 1905 in Francova Lhota. He was a Czech Salesian (monk) and Junák (Boy Scout). Pope Pius XII appointed him Bishop of Litoměřice in 1947. Trochta was spokesman of the...

 (made cardinal 1969, published 1973, died 1974) and František Tomášek
František Tomášek
František Tomášek was a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Bohemia, the 34th Archbishop of Prague, and a Roman Catholic theologian...

 (made cardinal 1976, published 1977, died 1992).
(Pope Paul VI appointed Joseph Trinh-nhu-Khuê
Joseph Trinh-nhu-Khuê
Joseph Marie Trình Như Khuê was a Vietnamese cardinal of the Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Hanoi from 1960 until his death, having previously served as its apostolic vicar, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1976.-Biography:Khue was born in Trang-Duê, and ordained to the...

 in pectore in the 28 April 1976 announcement of an upcoming consistory, but published that appointment when the consistory was held on the following 24 May.)

Pope John Paul I
Pope John Paul I
John Paul I , born Albino Luciani, , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and as Sovereign of Vatican City from 26 August 1978 until his death 33 days later. His reign is among the shortest in papal history, resulting in the most recent Year of Three Popes...

 created no cardinals, whilst Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 named four cardinals (of 232 overall) in pectore, of whom all but one were subsequently revealed:
  • Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei, Bishop
    A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

     of Shanghai
    Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

    , People's Republic of China
    People's Republic of China
    China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

     - made cardinal 1979, revealed 1991, died 2000.
  • Marian Jaworski, Archbishop
    An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

     of Lviv
    Lviv is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically has also been a major Polish and Jewish cultural center, as Poles and Jews were the two main ethnicities of the city until the outbreak of World War II and the following...

    , Ukraine
    Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

     - made cardinal 1998, revealed 2001.
  • Jānis Pujāts of Riga
    Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

    , Latvia
    Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

     - 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
    Pope Benedict XVI
    Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

     on 22 February 2006. In February 2005, there was also a speculation that the in pectore cardinal was Joseph Werth
    Joseph Werth
    Bishop Joseph Werth, SJ Иосиф Верт is Bishop of Transfiguration in Novosibirsk .Named as the Latin-rite Apostolic Administrator of Siberia - a see that encompassed 4.2 million square miles and extends through nine of the world's twenty four time zones - by Pope John Paul II on April 13, 1991, Werth...

    , a German-born archbishop of Novosibirsk
    Novosibirsk is the third-largest city in Russia, after Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and the largest city of Siberia, with a population of 1,473,737 . It is the administrative center of Novosibirsk Oblast as well as of the Siberian Federal District...

    , Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     (see Moscow News article below).

Term usage

Other than its religious meaning and origin, nowadays in pectore is basically used to refer to either something kept hidden or unrevealed or an expected, but still not official, appointment to an office (especially in politics).

The Italian language
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 version of the phrase – in petto – is also commonly used.

Literary usage

in pectore appears in the thriller The Aztlan Project by J.N. Paquet. In this work of fiction, in pectore is described as "the most unknown dicastery of the Roman Curia," and refers to "the secret appointment of a Cardinal by the Pope every twenty-two years, on the second day of September, to become responsible for the Spanish bishopric of Huesca and Jaca."

External links

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