Earlier this year, as part of the effort to normalize relations between the Vatican and China, the New York Times reported that the Vatican asked one of its bishops to step down to make way for a state-approved individual. This individual had been previously excommunicated from the Church, perhaps simply for acting as a bishop without papal approval (per Canon 1382).
It seemed strange to me that someone could go straight from being excommunicated to being a bishop, so I looked up the qualifications for bishops, and found Canon 378, which says that suitable candidates "must":
1° be outstanding in strong faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues, and possess those other gifts which equip him to fulfil the office in question;
2° be held in good esteem;
3° be at least 35 years old;
4° be a priest ordained for at least five years;
5° hold a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred Scripture, theology or canon law...
On the surface, numbers 1, 2, and 4 seem to be a bit tricky to apply to an excommunicated Catholic, except perhaps in the case of #4, if we're allowed to count years of service as a priest prior to excommunication.
However, Canon 378 goes on to say, in §2:
The definitive judgement on the suitability of the person to be promoted rests with the Apostolic See.
My question, then, is – does the pope have the ability to disregard any or all of the requirements of Canon 378 with respect to the qualifications of bishops, in order to appoint someone of his choice?
That is, should §2 be read as saying that the pope may waive the age requirement, or the years of service requirement, at his own discretion? Or does his "definitive judgement" apply only to the more subjective requirements, like qualifications #1 and #2?
I realize too that there are some circumstances in which the Pope can simply "violate" Canon Law, since he has the authority to amend it anyway, but I don't know if this is such an area.