Secretariat of State, Instruction on the conferral of papal honors, 13 May 2001.


In 2001, the Vatican Secretariat of State issued an Instruction on the Conferral of Pontifical Honors outlining the procedures for such recognition of clergy and laity. The text of the Instruction follows:




Apostolic Nunciature

United States of America

June 19, 2001

N.10.837

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies,

At the direction of the Secretariat of State of His Holiness, I have the honor to transmit to you, distinguished Diocesan Ordinaries, an English translation of the new Instruction on the Conferral of Pontifical Honors (Prot. 16.846/ON), signed by His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Secretary of State of His Holiness, on May 13, 2001.

Thanking your for your kind attention in this matter, in particular on the special occasions when you choose to honor those deserving of such papal recognition, I remain, with cordial regards and prayerful best wishes,

Sincerely, yours in Christ,

(signed)

Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo

Apostolic Nuncio




Secretariat of State

Instruction on the Conferral of Pontifical Honors

May 13, 2001

Prot. No. 16.846/ON 13

The Diocesan Bishops are able to propose the conferral of a pontifical honor upon ecclesiastics and the laity, as a sign of appreciation and recognition of the service they have rendered. Likewise, a Vicar General is able to request such a conferral, however, declaring explicitly that he is proceeding in this regard with the expressed authorization of the proper Bishop.

The request, accompanied by the curriculum vitae of the candidate(s) (year of age, profession, family and social condition; with an accurate description of the worthwhile merits of the candidate with respect to the Church), must be sent to the Apostolic Nunciature, which, having given its nihil obstat, will forward said request(s) to the Secretariat of State of His Holiness. Petitions being made by those territories subject to the jurisdiction of the Congregations for the Oriental Churches and the Evangelization of Peoples

should first be addressed always through the Apostolic Nunciature, to the respective competent Dicastery, which, in turn, will forward such to the Secretariat of State of His Holiness.

1-Secular Clergy:

a) Chaplain to His Holiness: to priests who are at least 35 years old and have been a priest for 10 years;

b) Prelate of Honor to His Holiness: to priests who are at least 45 years old and have been a priest for 15 years;

c) Protonotary Apostolic Supernumerary: to priests who are at least 55 years old and have been a priest for 20 years;

d) The norm of graduality must be observed: i.e., a given candidate must have first the title of Chaplain to His Holiness, and then that of Prelate of Honor to His Holiness. From this grade to another a period of at least 10 years ought to pass.

e) For some cases of particular and significant merit, the Bishops are able to request directly the title of Protonotary Apostolic Supernumerary, while preserving the condition that the candidate is at least 55 years old and ordained a priest for 20 years.

f) For each Diocese, the total number of Chaplains, Prelates and Protonotaries ought not to exceed ten percent of the clergy.

2-Religious Men and Women

For Religious men and women, after a noteworthy period of service, the honorary distinctions of the Benemerenti Medal and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross may be requested:

a) Benemerenti Medal: to candidates who are at least 35 years old and who have completed 10 years of religious profession.

b) Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross: to candidates who are at least 45 years old and who have completed 15 years of religious profession.

3-The Laity

For the laity, men and women, the Equestrian Orders presently conferred are the Pian Order, the Order of St. Gregory the Great and the Order of Pope St. Silvester in the degrees of Knights and Dames of the Collar (only for the Pian Order); Knights and Dames of Grand Cross; Commanders with Star and Dames (Dame di Commenda) with Star, Commanders and Dames (Dame di Commenda); Knights and Dames. Together with the Equestrian Orders exist also, as distinctions of honor, the Benemerenti Medal and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross. The Supreme Order of Christ and the Order of the Golden Spur, although not abolished, are presently not under consideration.

I. Pian Order

a) The Collar: is granted to Heads of State

b) The Grand Cross: to Heads of Government, Ministers of State and Ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.

II. Order of St. Gregory the Great

a) Grand Cross: to candidates of high profile in the service of the Church, at national and international levels, who are at least 55 years old and 10 years after the conferral of an honor of inferior degree.

b) Commander with Star: to candidates particularly well-deserving, who are at least 45 years old and 10 years after the conferral of an honor of inferior degree.

c) Commander: to candidates well-deserving, who are at least 45 years old and 10 years after the conferral of an honor of inferior degree.

d) Knighthood: to candidates who are at least 40 years old.

III. Order of Pope St. Silvester

a) Grand Cross: to candidates particularly well-deserving, who are at least 50 years old and 10 years after the conferral of an honor of inferior degree.

b) Commander with Star: to candidates well-deserving, who are at least 45 years old and 10 years after the conferral of an honor of inferior degree.

c) Commander: to candidates who are at least 40 years old and 10 years after the conferral of an honor of inferior degree.

d) Knighthood: to candidates who are at least 35 years old.

IV. The Benemerenti Medal and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross

a) It is possible to request also for the laity (men and women) the Benemerenti Medal and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross with the same conditions established for Religious, men and women, that is 35 years old for the Benemerenti Medal and 45years old for the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross.

b) Also in this case, the criteria of graduality is to be respected as established for ecclesiastics.

4-Police and Military Forces in General:

a) The honors are conferred only to those who have the rank of Captain and higher ranks. Hence, the request for Warrant Officers, Under-lieutenants, and Lieutenants is to be avoided.

b) To Captains, Captains major and Majors is granted the Order of Pope St. Silvester; to Lieutenant-Colonels, Colonels and Generals the Order of St. Gregory the Great, in various degrees.

5-For Nominations from Within the Roman Curia

The proposal of the conferral of a pontifical honor for the Official(s) of the Roman Curia (Secular clergy, Religious men and women, the Laity) ought to be presented to the Secretariat of State of His Holiness by his or her proper head of dicastery, together with a detailed curriculum vitae of the candidate.

(signed)

Angelo Cardinal Sodano

Secretary of State




Secretariat of State

Clarification Regarding Papal Honors

Prot. No. 17.567/ON

1- For Clerics:

a) The Holy See alone has exclusive authority to grand honorary titles, with respect, of course, for the traditions of the Oriental Churches (cf. CCEO, c. 250).

b) To respect graduality, every candidate (of any age or merit) is given first the title of Chaplain to His Holiness, and only this title.

c) However, the title of Prelate of Honor to His Holiness can be granted as a first step, upon request of the diocesan Bishop, to Vicars General who are not religious.

d) Only in exceptional cases, and with a well-documented request from the Ordinary, can the concession of the title of Prelate of Honor to His Holiness be considered as a first step for a cleric who is not a Vicar General, but who should be advanced in years (e.g., 75 years old) and be truly deserving of said honor.

e) The same holds true with greater reason for the title of Protonotary Apostolic Supernumerary.

f) For all candidates an interval of 10 years must be observed between on Honor and another.

2- For Laity:

a) The concession of Honors must be regulated by the principle of graduality.

b) As a first step, all will be granted the Knighthood of the Order of Pope St. Silvester and the Order of St. Gregory the Great, depending on the age of the candidate (dv. Instruction of May 13, 2001 [p.n. 16.846/ON], 3, II and III).

c) To candidates who are particularly deserving, and whose merits are adequately documented by the Diocesan Ordinary, the rank of Commander and the Commander with Star of the two Orders can be conferred first, depending on the age of each (cf. ibidem).

d) The concession of the Grand Cross of both Orders is to be considered truly exceptional.

e) For all candidates an interval of 10 years must be observed between one Honor and another.

3- In All Cases:

It sometimes happens that Bishops request a rather elevated number of Honors on the occasion of particular celebrations. In this regard, the following is to be kept clearly in mind:

a) For every diocese, the total number of Protonotaries, Prelates and Chaplains must not exceed 10% of the clergy.

b) For the laity, no diocese can request more than 10 Honors per year for each of the Orders of Pope St. Silvester and St. Gregory the Great.

c) The Benemerenti Medals and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice crosses cannot be more than 20 per year per diocese.




Secretariat of State, Instruction on the conferral of papal honors, 13 May 2001, CLSA, Roman Replies and Advisory Opinions, 2009, 12-17.