Catholics Take HEED. Pope Announces That He Plans To Reorganize The Holy See!
by Anura Guruge
This was the last sentence in an announcement about the next cardinal creating consistory. That the pope is having a consistory on mid-February is par for the course. 4 of the 9 (44.4%) cardinal creating consistories held since 1998 have been in February. Plus the College (barring deaths) will be down to 110 cardinal electors by then — 120 being the ‘full house’ in terms of cardinal electors.
That the pope intends to reform the Roman Curia, the administrative arm of the Church, is not new, overdue and routine.
What was a surprise was the last statement. This could be a BIGGIE.
‘Holy See’ is one of those terms that has multiple nuanced meanings depending on the context it is being used. In this announcement no effort was made to provide any context. So the reorganization could be trivial as the pope saying that he is appointing more auxiliary bishops to help run the dioceses of Rome to the pope making a ground shift change to the Church and papacy — e.g., saying he is going to appoint a Vice-Pope. With this pope you never know. That is the danger. That is the intrigue.
A few years ago I wrote this description of the Holy See. From what I can see it is still the most accurate and thorough explanation yet.
[Please, if you are going to use it just say where it came from.]
Anura Guruge’s explanation of the Holy See.
It denotes the papal seat and refers to the bishopric of Rome – and thus connotes the office and the authority of the pope.
‘See’ from the Latin sedes means seat (and the word sedentary also comes from this same root). As such it came to represent the seat (or throne) on which a bishop was installed thereby empowering the bishop with the jurisdiction over that diocese. It is the Latin equivalent of the Greek cathedra from which the word cathedral comes from – with a cathedral being the church containing the bishop’s throne. In Latin, the Holy See is Sancta Sedes.
An Episcopal See, where episcopal signifies bishops, thus denotes the office (or jurisdiction) of a bishop. The Holy See (or “Holy Seat”) therefore refers to the diocese of Rome under the care of the Bishop of Rome; i.e. the pope. It also connotes the office and the authority of the pope.
In the context of the laws of the Roman Catholic Church [i.e. cannon law], the Holy See designates the central government of the Roman Catholic Church. The bureaucracy that has been used by the popes since the late 16th century to run this central government is known as the Roman Curia. Consequently, Holy See is also sometimes used to collectively mean the pope and this Roman Curia. Similarly it can also be used as an overarching sense to encompass the ethical and judicial standing of the Roman church.
The Holy See also administers the Vatican City, the sovereign city-state wholly contained within Rome and the official residence of the popes since 1871. In this capacity it is the Holy See, rather than the Vatican City, that establishes and maintains diplomatic relations with other states. International law and conventions accept the Holy See as having its own distinctive legal identity. Given this added temporal dimension, matters pertaining to the pope’s spiritual and diplomatic prerogatives are also sometimes referred to by the term Holy See.
[For arcane historic reasons related to its status within the Holy Roman Empire as well as to the stature of its Archbishop St. Willigis (during 975 to 1011), the See of Mainz (in Southwestern Germany) was proclaimed as a Holy See in the late 10th century. It still retains that title though it is rarely used and even less well known about.]
Stay tuned. I will try to stay on top of this so that it doesn’t totally blind side all of us.