Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Can a Diocesan Bishop be Nominated for Pope?

April 28, 2012

COLLEYVILLE, TX. April 28, 2012 -- Many people are inquiring about the papal selection process especially the point whether or not a diocesan bishop can be nominated for the papacy. At this time, we like to address this point to clarify the process.

In Canon 15 of the Nicene Council (English | Arabic), it states:

On account of the great disturbance and discords that occur, it is decreed that the custom prevailing in certain places contrary to the Canon, must wholly be done away; so that neither bishop, elder, nor deacon shall pass from city to city. And if anyone, after this decree of the holy and great Synod, shall attempt any such thing, or continue in any such course, his proceedings shall be utterly void, and he shall be restored to the Church for which he was ordained bishop or elder.

Yet in Canon 14 from the Apostolic Canons (English | Arabic), it states:

A bishop is not to be allowed to leave his own parish, and pass over into another, although he may be pressed by many to do so, unless there be some proper cause constraining him. as if he can confer some greater benefit upon the persons of that place in the word of godliness. And this must be done not of his own accord, but by the judgment of many bishops, and at their earnest exhortation.

Thus it is in Canon 14 of the Apostles that gives an exception for a diocesan bishop to leave his own parish and pass over into another (as in the case of papacy) under these conditions:

  1. If there is proper cause constraining him (e.g. greater benefit upon the persons of that place in the word of godliness)
  2. Must be done not of his own accord
  3. Must be done by the judgment of many bishops
  4. Must be done at their earnest exhortation

We ask for your prayers that the will of God may preside during the papal selection process.