Cardinal Bishops Elected Pope (as of 769).
There have been 29 cardinal bishops elected pope since 769.
The last pope, Benedict XVI (#266), is the latest of those 29. Prior to him it was Pius VIII (#254) in 1829 — a 176 year gap with 12 intervening popes.
I was surprised that there had been 29. I thought, before I started compiling the list, that the number would be in the low 20s — comparable to the 22 cardinal deacons elected pope.
EXISTING BISHOPS BECOMING THE BISHOP OF ROME (i.e., the Pope)
Please refer to the cardinal deacons post, (earlier today), for why I use 769 as the start date when it comes to ‘cardinals.’ Coincidentally, probably providentially, 769 also happens to be the year that the term ‘cardinal bishop’ (episcopi cardinals), was introduced into ‘Rome speak,’ in the context of a weekly roster of hebdomadarii bishops who would conduct Mass on Sundays at St. Peter’s, in rotation. [Pages 85 & 105 of ‘The Next Pope‘ book.]
Please study the ‘edibility to be pope’ table in the cardinal deacons post.
Note that the seminal 769 synod pointedly excluded cardinal bishops from being elected pope.
This was NOT a mistake or oversight. There was a very sound rationale for this exclusion — the prohibition against clerical, and in particular bishopric, transfers, codified way back in 325 at the pivotal First Council of Nicaea [Turkey], convened and presided over by no other than Emperor Constantine the Great [who legitimized Christianity].
In December of 882, John VIII (#108), a pope with a penchant for dabbling in secular politics, was murdered — poisoned and then clubbed until he was dead, supposedly by members of his retinue, possibly even relatives. Two days after John VIII’s murder, Marinus I (#109), the Bishop of Caere [~30 miles NNW of Rome], was elected pope. He was the first bishop to be elected pope. He was not, however, a cardinal bishop. [Page 45, ‘The Next Pope.‘]
Formosus (#112), the unfortunate subject of the despicable 897 ‘cadaver synod,’ was the first cardinal bishop to be elected pope — in 891. One of the ‘crimes’ he was accused of, albeit when he was a cadaver, was the ‘translation of bishops,’ i.e., the bishop of one see becoming the bishop of another, even if it was the see of Rome.
WHY THERE HAVEN”T BEEN MORE CARDINAL BISHOPS ELECTED POPE
Prior to 1059, the prevailing laws and traditions precluded cardinal bishops from being elected pope, though as is always the case in papal history, three cardinal bishops, starting with Formosus, were elected pope between 769 and 1059.
There can only be 6 (and at one time 7) cardinal bishops, at any one time — so they are not as numerous as cardinal priests or even cardinal deacons.
At least of late (i.e., the last few centuries), the cardinal bishops may have been older than the norm.
Cardinal bishops, given their seniority, may have had closer links to prior popes, especially the most recently deceased, which made them less attractive. [However, in the case of the current pope, Benedict XVI, it was indeed this close relationship with the prior pope that made him attractive to the cardinal electors.]
THE LIST OF CARDINAL BISHOPS ELECTED POPE (AS OF 769)
Notes and explanations follow.
In the ‘Seq #’ field a YELLOW background denotes successive pope, while the GREEN background denotes papacy that occurred close together.
In the ‘created’ field, the [O] for ‘order,’ indicates B=bishop, P=priest & D=deacon.
‘Xs’ field portrays transfers within the College. Please refer to this post about jus optionis preferment rules within the College. In the ‘x+y’ notation, the first number refers to transfers prior to becoming a cardinal bishop while the second number refers to the number of moves between suburbicarian sees while a cardinal bishop — though this number does NOT include getting Ostia upon becoming the Dean of the College of Cardinals. The YELLOW background indicates noteworthy exceptions. Leo XI requested five separate transfers while a cardinal priest. On February 14, 1592, he opted for one title then changed his mind and opted for another! A ‘P’ indicates elevation from cardinal deacon to cardinal priest, while ‘C’ denotes a title awarded ‘in commendam,’ please refer to <this post>.
As of 1150, when the College was formed, the Dean of the College was supposed to get Ostia. But this did not come to be, in a consistent manner, till much, much later. The BLUE background highlight scenarios when Ostia was not properly assigned, or assigned prior to the cardinal bishop becoming the Dean.
NOTES 1 & 2: Formosus and Silvester III held these sees, viz. Porto and Sabina, in two very distinct periods of time. In the case of the latter, he went back to be the Cardinal Bishop of Sabina when he was ousted as being pope! Formosus was excommunicated in 876 and eventually exiled. Marinus, the first bishop to transfer into Rome, reinstated him!