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Second Vatican Council Votes




Wilde, M. J. (2019, November 19). Second Vatican Council Votes.


The study aimed to examine the factors that predicted bishops' votes at the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II. Votes were obtained from the Vatican Secret Archive and entered into an electronic database, along with other biographical, diocesan, and national-level information which were used as independent variables.

The ARDA has added two additional variables to the original data set to enhance the users' experience on our site.

Data File

Cases: 2929
Variables: 176
Weight Variable: None

Data Collection

1962-1965 votes from the Second Vatican Council. 1951, 1955, 1956, and 1962-1966 Annuario Pontificio: biographical and diocesan information. 1955 and 1966 National Catholic Almanacs. 1975 World Christian Database. 1975 UN/World Bank Data on countries.

Funded By

NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant (SES-0002409), American Sociological Association's Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline, a Research Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and research funds from Indiana University.

Sampling Procedures

All bishops (and their dioceses and nations) lodging a vote during the Second Vatican Council on any one of the ten votes are included in the database. The data set represents the complete population of voters on each vote.

Principal Investigators

Melissa J. Wilde, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

Related Publications

Wilde, Melissa J., Kristin Geraty, Shelley Nelson, and Emily Bowman. 2010. "Religious Economy or Organizational Field? Predicting Bishops' Votes at the Second Vatican Council." American Sociological Review. 75(4):586-606.

Wilde, Melissa J. 2007. "Who Wanted What and Why at the Second Vatican Council: Toward a General Theory of Religious Change." Sociologica: Italian Journal of Sociology. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Wilde, Melissa J. 2007. Vatican II: A Sociological Analysis of Religious Change. Princeton University Press.

Wilde, Melissa J. 2004. "How Culture Mattered at Vatican II: Collegiality Trumps Authority in the Council's Social Movement Organizations." American Sociological Review. 69(4):576-602.

Variable Prefixes

Prefixes indicate the level of analysis for each variable and are as follows:

I = individual level
D = diocese level
N = country level

Votes Obtained from the Vatican Secret Archive

The following votes from the Second Vatican Council were entered (into Microsoft Access) from photocopies of the original vote tallies (Suffragationes) obtained from the Vatican Secret Archive (Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Cortile del Belvedere, 00120 Vatican City). The tallies gave each bishop's name, diocese name, title and vote, each of which was entered twice by two different assistants, discrepancies corrected, and then checked a third time. Each of the votes matches the official totals provided by the Vatican at the time of the Council, unless a discrepancy is noted, and each vote is represented by two different variables. The first variable is named "ivotename" (e.g., "irevelat" for the first vote listed below) and lists exactly the votes as they are recorded in the Suffragationes. The second variable has the same name, but ends with a "pc" to indicate which position on a vote was progressive or conservative for analysis purposes (e.g., "irevelatpc").

1. The Vote on the Sources of Revelation (First Session, November 20, 1962, Suffragationes, Volume I: No. 5) was one of the first votes taken during the Council (see Wilde 2007: 5 and 30). The issue concerned whether the preparatory schema needed revision. The progressive position, that the conservative schema needed revision won, with 1,363 placets (accept), 817 non-placets (reject).

2. The First Vote on the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Session, October 29, 1963, Suffragationes, Volume XIX: No. 97) was the most divisive of all the votes taken during the Council, with 1,115 voting to include Mary on the schema in the Church (the progressive position, because it entailed de-emphasizing Catholic devotion to Mary in order to be more compatible with Protestant views), and 1,075 voting to give her a separate schema (Alberigo and Komonchak 1997:481; Anderson 1965:221; Rynne 1968:158-161 and 214; Wilde 2004:579 and 599; Wilde 2007:31; Wilde et al. 2010; Wiltgen 1985:90-95).

3. The Vote on First of the Four Points on Collegiality (Second Session, October 30, 1963, Suffragationes, Volume XX: No. 101): "That episcopal consecration was the highest grade of the sacrament of Holy Orders," 2,123 placets to 34 non-placets (Wiltgen 1985:114; see also Anderson 1965:225; Rynne 1968:215).

4. The Vote on Second of the Four Points on Collegiality (Second Session, October 30, 1963, Suffragationes, Volume XX: No. 102): "That every bishop legitimately consecrated and in communion with other bishops and the Roman Pontiff, their head and principle of unity, was a member of the College of Bishops," 2,049 placets to 104 non-placets (Wiltgen 1985:115; see also Anderson 1965:225; Rynne 1968:215).

5. The Vote on Third of the Four Points on Collegiality (Second Session, October 30, 1963, Suffragationes, Volume XX: No. 103): "That this College of Bishops succeeded the College of Apostles in its role of teaching, sanctifying, and caring for souls, and that this college, together with its head, the Roman Pontiff, and never without him (whose primacy over all bishops and faithful remained complete and intact), enjoyed full and supreme power over the Universal Church," 1,808 placets to 336 non-placets" (Wiltgen 1985:115; see also Anderson 1965:225; Rynne 1968:215).

6. The Vote on the Fourth Point on Collegiality (Second Session, October 30, 1963, Suffragationes, Volume XX: No. 104): "That that power belonged by divine right to the College of Bishops united with its head," 1,717 placets to 408 non-placets (Wiltgen 1985:115; see also Alberigo and Komonchak 2000:102-105; Anderson 1965:225; Rynne 1968:214 and 227-34; Wilde 2004:591; Wilde 2007:73).

7. The Final vote on Collegiality (Third Session, September 30,1964, Suffragationes, Volume XXXV: No. 180): "The order of bishops... along with its head, the Roman Pontiff, and never without this head, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the whole Church," 1,624 placets, 572 Juxta modum, 42 non-placets (Alberigo and Komonchak 1997:63; see also Anderson 1965:83-84; Rynne 1968:313-17).

8. The Final Vote on the Blessed Virgin Mary (Third Session, October 29, 1964, Suffragationes, Volume XLII: No. 215) sought approval of the final Council document on Mary. It passed with more than the necessary two-thirds straight approval, with only 10 non-placets (the most conservative position), 1,559 placets (the moderate position) and 521 modi (which were both progressive and conservative) (Anderson 1965: 203-07; see also Alberigo and Komonchak 2000:98; Rynne 1968:363-372; Wilde 2004:594-596; Wilde 2007:112).

9. The Vote on the Propositions on Religious: (Third Session, November 12, 1964 Suffragationes, Volume XLVIII: No. 242). 1,155 placets in favor of retaining them, and 882 non-placets in favor of rejecting them and replacing them with an entirely new schema (Alberigo and Komonchak 1965:356-364; Anderson 1965:259; Rynne 1968:387-392).

10. The Vote on the Missions Schema: (Fourth Session, November 11, 1965, Suffragationes, Volume XC: No. 455). " Various provisions" of the schema "attempt to foster greater brotherhood among Christian missioners" (Anderson 1966: 216), 1,428 placets, 712 Juxta modum, 9 non-placets (Rynne 1968:511-13 and 548-49).

Country of Service and Biographical Information

The 1965 Annuario Pontificio (AP) was used to obtain country of service and other biographical information. If information was not available for a bishop in the 1965 AP, his information was obtained from the most recent year of the AP in which he appeared.

Though this process worked for the majority of the 2,881 bishops, the time of the Council was a tumultuous political one for many areas of the world, particularly those in Africa. Many countries at this time were gaining independence, or would soon, and as a result, many of the often arbitrary colonial borders underwent significant changes, with some countries that had been divided by two or more colonial powers combining into one country, and with other unified countries splitting into two or more countries once the colonial power had vacated.

Such flux in borders, governments, and country names made assigning country characteristics particularly difficult for some of the bishops in the database, and this is not counting those which the Church did not identify for reasons of its own. Altogether, the AP did not differentiate between East and West Germany, North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam, Ireland and Northern Ireland, The Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, nor did it differentiate between many African countries, referring to them by general geographic region such as "Equatorial" or "Occidental Africa."

Bishops in such areas were placed in a country through the use of a gazetteer from 1965 (The Times Index-Gazetteer of the World). This allowed the researchers to look up the names of their cities (usually given under the diocese address in the AP) to then ascertain the country. Doing so allowed the researchers to obtain country information for more than 99 percent of the bishops who voted at the Council.

Finally, to facilitate comparisons between Church and other sources, two different country names are provided in the database. The first is "icntryserv," which reflects the bishops' country of service as it was named in 1965. The second is "nacta," which is the bishops' country of service as it is named in the Acta et documenta Concilio oecumenico Vaticano II apparando: Series prima (antepraeparatoria) (1960-61). The acta variable does not necessarily reflect the same borders or laws as our "icntryserv" variable, particularly for African and communist countries.

Bishops' Titles

The data set contains bishops with thirteen titles listed in the variable "ititle." The section below describes these titles and our suggestions for how to group them into fewer categories for meaningful analysis according to the duties and responsibilities demanded of these positions.

Cardinal-Bishop (CV), Cardinal-Deacon (CD), and Cardinal-Priest (CP): All cardinals, regardless of whether they are cardinal-bishops, cardinal-deacons, or cardinal-priests, are the pope's assistants and are members of the Sacred College of Cardinals. The positions of cardinal-bishop, cardinal-priest, and cardinal-deacon carry equal ranking. Cardinals rank just below the pope and can be judged only by him. Upon the pope's death, cardinals are responsible for electing a new pope. Because there is no difference in the ranking of cardinal-bishops, cardinal-deacons, and cardinal-priests, and because they essentially share the same duties and rights, it is recommended that they all be placed in the same category.

Patriarch (P): Patriarchs are bishops who hold the highest Episcopal rank after the pope (who is himself the Roman patriarch). They have jurisdiction over all bishops, clergy, and people within a vast, specified territory. The hierarchy among major patriarchs is historically based and confers precedence (after the pope) to the patriarch of Constantinople, followed in descending order by the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem (Catholic Encyclopedia 1089). The heads of the Melchite and Maronite church are essentially patriarchs representing Catholics of other, non-Roman rites.

Residential Bishop (VR), Prelate Nullius (PN), and Prefect Apostolic (PA): A residential bishop is the head of a diocese, responsible directly to the pope and subject to his authority. A prelate nullius is "in charge of territory that has its own clergy and laity, and lies outside the jurisdiction of any diocese" (Catholic Encyclopedia 735). The duties, obligations, and jurisdiction of a prelate nullius are essentially equivalent to those of a residential bishop (Catholic Encyclopedia 735). The prefect apostolic also governs a particular region and "enjoys the same rights and faculties as those given by law to residential bishops" (Catholic Encyclopedia 727). Because the ranking, rights, and responsibilities of the residential bishop, prelate nullius, and prefect apostolic are very similar, it is recommended that they be placed in the same category for analytical purposes.

Abbot Nullius (AN): An abbot nullius is "a religious prelate assigned to govern not only an abbey but also the clergy and laity of a territory that is separate from any diocese" (Catholic Encyclopedia 10). Although the abbot nullius is similar to the prelate nullius in his jurisdictional powers, the abbot nullius ranks higher than the prelate nullius and while in his jurisdiction takes precedence over everyone except for cardinals, papal delegates, and patriarchs (Catholic Encyclopedia 10). Because an abbot nullius outranks a residential bishop and a prelate nullius when in his territory, but is inferior to cardinals, it is not recommend that they be combined with these other groups of church officials.

Titular Bishop (VT): Titular bishops are assigned to non-functioning or extinct dioceses. Generally, their job is to assist residential bishops or to execute the duties of another ecclesiastical post, such as that of papal diplomat. Because titular bishops do not oversee their own diocese, they have not been combined with residential bishops.

Residential Archbishop (AR) and Primate (PR): Residential archbishops are bishops of the highest rank who oversee archdioceses or provinces. Primates are essentially residential archbishops who oversee areas that were the first in a particular region or country; primates oversee the oldest sees within a given territory (Catholic Encyclopedia 781). Because the rights and duties of residential archbishops and primates are very similar, it is recommended that they be combined into one category.

Titular Archbishop (AT): Titular archbishops are usually nonresidential archbishops. Rather than overseeing a particular region, these men are archbishops in name only. For these archbishops, the title does not confer ecclesiastical power, but is instead a sign of extraordinary service or special function (Catholic Encyclopedia 743). Because titular archbishops do not oversee an archdiocese, it is not recommended that they be combined with residential archbishops and primates.

Superior General (SG): Superiors General are charged with the duties of promoting the "spiritual and temporal welfare of their subjects," who are the members of their religious order, and with "maintaining faith and discipline" during canonical visitations (Catholic Encyclopedia 812). Superiors General are considered ecclesiastically superior. They generally serve a fixed term. Because their duties are focused on the religious orders they oversee it is not recommended that they be combined with any other categories.

Religious Regulation Variables

Obtaining systematic data on the relationship between the Church and state in each country at the time of the Council was complicated, primarily because the Declaration of Religious Freedom proscribed official governmental preference of the Church. Among other problems, the researchers found that the 1965 National Catholic Almanac (NCA) did not mention the legal situation of the Church in eight of the nine countries where the Church was noted as the state religion in 1955. The researchers therefore used the 1955 NCA, a year which represents the Church's relationship with the state three years before John's announcement, for measures of whether the RCC was the state religion or given special status at the time of the Council. However, the database includes the data that we entered on religious regulation from the 1965 and 1950 NCAs as well. Below is a list of all of the statements in the NCA and how they were coded for our religious regulation variable:

"Relreg55" = religious regulation in 1955

Catholicism is the state religion = 0
• Catholicism as state religion/church, but all religions tolerated
• Catholicism predominates, Church is partly state supported
• State recognizes and supports RCC, but permits free exercise of other religions
• RCC supported by the state, but all religions tolerated

Catholicism Predominates =1
• Predominately Catholic
• Catholicism is prevailing religion/majority of population is Catholic

Religious Freedom = 2
• Constitutional freedom
• "Church Free"
• All religions guaranteed freedom under constitution
• All religions permitted in accordance with Toleration Act
• Freedom of worship is granted
• Liberty of conscience was granted
• Predominately Muslim inhabitants, but constitutional freedom of worship
• All religions tolerated in accordance with US constitution
• Missionary work
• No state religion/church, all religions tolerated
• Catholics form a small minority (and it doesn't say anything else)
• Church is showing rebirth (and it doesn't say anything else)

Restricted Religious Freedom=3
• Constitutional freedom, although restricted in some ways
• Lutheranism is state church, toleration granted by constitutional amendment, but Society of Jesus is still prohibited
• Constitutional freedom, but hindrances in educational and social work among natives

State religion is not RCC, but RCC is not said to be persecuted = 4
• Lutheranism as state religion, but all religions tolerated
• Islam as state religion, but freedom of worship is granted
• Eastern Orthodox is state church, but constitutional religions toleration is est.
• Church of England is state church
• Buddhism is the state religion, but liberty of conscience is granted
• Predominately Presbyterian, small percentage Catholic
• Predominately Muslim, small percentage Catholic
• Catholicism not tolerated until 1792 (this is if it is a non-Catholic, but not communist country, if communist, then put under "persecuted").

State religion is not RCC, RCC is persecuted = 5
• All inhabitants subject to law of Islam; no priest may enter
• Majority of population Muslim, Catholicism persecuted
• Inhabitants predominately Sunni-Muslim, government is officially anti-Catholic
• Persecution greatly reduces Catholic population (Ireland)

Persecution (Communist)= 6
• Alleged constitutional freedom
• Alleged constitutional freedom but actual persecution
• Alleged constitutional freedom there but actual persecution, with missionaries under arrest and native clergy restricted
• Toleration granted, but RCC endures persecution
• Alleged constitutional freedom, but under Soviet occupation
• National Church (communist), freedom of worship was granted but RCC is imperiled by Communist coup
• Communist control, status of RCC uncertain
• RCC suffers greatly under Communist government
• On paper, communist government recognizes religion/the church/papal jurisdiction in matters of religion, but agreement is often violated
• The Greek Orthodox Church is state religion, official status granted to Catholicism, but Greek Catholic bishops have been deported, expelled, forced to leave
• RCC persecuted by communists
• Russian Orthodox as prevailing religion, RCC endures persecution (if this is about a communist country, put here, if not, then put under option 5)
• Majority of inhabitants Serbia-Orthodox, under a communist government, RCC persecuted
• All religions persecuted
• Constitutional (or other) hostility toward the Church
• All religious orders prohibited, religions are persecuted, godless propaganda is encouraged

Missing and Non-codable=99
• Catholic statistics not available
• No mention of legal situation of the Church

Other Independent Variables

Bishop was a signer of the communism petition ("isigncomm"): These 434 bishops signed the petition authored by the conservative group known as the Coetus Internationalis Patrum (International Group of Fathers or CIP) which sought a conciliar condemnation of communism circulated two weeks into the Fourth Session (Wiltgen 1985:274). I obtained a copy of the petition at the Instituto Per Le Scienze Religiose - Giovanni XXIII, Via San Vitale 114, Bologna, Italy, from their Sigaud Archive (box 3. folder 7) and matched the names on the petition with the names in the database. See Chapter 2 and Appendix B of Wilde 2007 for more information on the CIP or this petition.

Bishop was a signer of the petition the Blessed Virgin Mary ("isignbvm"): These 371 bishops signed the CIP petition on that asked the Pope to consecrate the world to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Please note that the data from this petition (which I found at the Instituto Per Le Scienze Religiose - Giovanni XXIII, Via San Vitale 114, Bologna, Italy, Sigaud Archive (box 3, folder 8)) appear to be incomplete. Wiltgen estimates that 510 signed the petition on Mary (1985:241), but I found a list with only approximately 450 signers in the archive, only 371 of which could be matched with the bishops in our database due to problems deciphering signatures. See Chapter 2 and Appendix B of Wilde 2007 for more information on the CIP or this petition.

Bishop represented his episcopal conference at the Domus Mariae ("iDMmember"): These 22 bishops were the official representatives of their episcopal conferences at the Domus Mariae (DM). See Chapter 2 and Table B2 of Wilde 2007 for more information on the DM.

Bishop was interviewed by Rocco Caporale ("icaporale"): These 71 bishops were part of the 80 most important individuals at the Council interviewed by Rocco Caporale for his dissertation research in sociology at Columbia University in 1962-63. In order to obtain a sample of leaders, Caporale asked his respondents to identify five of the most important people at the Council and stopped when no new names were being volunteered. Caporale's transcripts are now publicly available at Catholic University of America's Vatican II Archive. Table B1 in the Methodological Appendix of Wilde 2007 provides a detailed list of the Council fathers, periti and non-Catholic observers he interviewed.


Acta et documenta Concilio oecumenico Vaticano II apparando: Series prima (antepraeparatoria). Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (Vatican Press), 1960-1961.

Alberigo, Giuseppe and Joseph Komonchak (English version), eds. History of Vatican II: Volume I: Announcing and Preparing Vatican Council II: Toward a New Era in Catholicism. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1995.

Alberigo, Giuseppe and Joseph Komonchak (English version), eds. History of Vatican II: Volume II: The Formation of the Council's Identity: First Period and Intersession October 1962 - September 1963. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1997.

Alberigo, Giuseppe and Joseph Komonchak (English version), eds. History of Vatican II: Volume III: The Mature Council: Second Period and Intersession: September 1963 - September 1964. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2000.

Alberigo, Giuseppe and Joseph Komonchak (English version), eds. History of Vatican II: Volume IV: Church as Communion: Third Period and Intersession: September 1964 - September 1965. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2003

Anderson, Floyd. Council Daybook: Vatican II, Sessions 1 and 2. Washington, D.C.: National Catholic Welfare Conference, 1965.

Anderson, Floyd. Council Daybook: Vatican II, Session 3. Washington, D.C.: National Catholic Welfare Conference, 1965.

Anderson, Floyd. Council Daybook: Vatican II, Session 4. Washington, D.C.: National Catholic Welfare Conference, 1966.

Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 1962. Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (Vatican Press), 1962.

Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 1963. Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (Vatican Press), 1963.

Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 1964. Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (Vatican Press), 1964.

Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 1965. Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (Vatican Press), 1965.

Annuario Pontificio per l'anno 1966. Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis (Vatican Press), 1966.

Caporale, Rock. Vatican II: The Last of the Councils. Baltimore: Garamond/ Pridemark Press, 1964.

The Catholic Encyclopedia: Classic 1914 Edition. 1907-1914. Robert Appleton Company. Computer edition by Kevin Knight, 2003.

Foy, Felician A., ed. 1966 National Catholic Almanac. Paterson, New Jersey: St. Anthony's Guild, 1966.

Foy, Felician A., ed. The 1955 National Catholic Almanac. Paterson, New Jersey: St. Anthony's Guild, 1955.

Rynne, Xavier. Vatican Council II. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc, 1968.

The Times Index-Gazetteer of the World. London: Times Publishing Company Ltd, 1965.

Wiltgen, Ralph M. 1967. The Rhine Flows into the Tiber: A History of Vatican II. Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1985.

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