Rorate Caeli

Motu Proprio
on the repristination of the conclave's qualified majority

According to the traditional rule, now brought back by Pope Benedict XVI, the election of the Roman Pontiff must always happen by the way of a solid two-thirds majority of Voting Cardinals. The following Apostolic Letter, released today, changes article 75 of Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, which allowed a papal election by a lower absolute majority of voting Cardinals after a series of unsuccessful ballots (cf. Article 74 of the same Constitution), reestablishing that the qualified majority (two thirds of Voting Cardinals) remains the norm always for the validity of the election of a Roman Pontiff -- even when, after the series of unsuccessful votes, there is a runoff between the two Cardinals with the largest number of votes in the preceding ballot (who will not be able to vote in the runoff election).




de aliquibus mutationibus in normis
de electione Romani Pontificis


Constitutione apostolica Universi Dominici gregis, die XXII Februarii anno MCMXCVI promulgata [n. 1], Venerabilis Decessor Noster Ioannes Paulus II, nonnullas immutationes induxit in normas canonicas servandas pro electione Romani Pontificis a Paulo VI, felicis recordationis, statutas [n. 2].

In numero septuagesimo quinto memoratae Constitutionis statutum est ut exhaustis incassum omnibus suffragationibus, iuxta normas statutas peractis, in quibus ad validam electionem Romani Pontificis duae ex tribus partes suffragiorum omnium praesentium requiruntur, Cardinalis Camerarius Cardinales electores consulat de modo procedendi, atque agetur prout eorum maior absoluta pars decreverit, servata tamen ratione ut electio valida evadat aut maiore absoluta parte suffragiorum aut duo nomina tantum suffragando, quae in superiore scrutinio maiorem suffragiorum partem obtinuerunt, dum hoc quoque in casu sola maior absoluta pars requirebatur.

Post promulgatam vero laudatam Constitutionem, haud paucae petitiones, auctoritate insignes, ad Ioannem Paulum II pervenerunt, sollicitantes ut norma traditione sancita restitueretur, secundum quam Romanus Pontifex valide electus non haberetur nisi duas ex tribus partes suffragiorum Cardinalium electorum praesentium obtinuisset.

Nos igitur, quaestione attente perpensa, statuimus ac decernimus ut, abrogatis normis quae in numero septuagesimo quinto Constitutionis Apostolicae Universi Dominici gregis Ioannis Pauli II praescribuntur, hae substituantur normae quae sequuntur:

Si scrutinia de quibus in numeris septuagesimo secundo, tertio et quarto memoratae Constitutionis incassum reciderint, habeatur unus dies orationi, reflexioni et dialogo dicatus ; in subsequentibus vero suffragationibus, servato ordine in numero septuagesimo quarto eiusdem Constitutionis statuto, vocem passivam habebunt tantummodo duo Cardinales qui in superiore scrutinio maiorem numerum suffragiorum obtinuerunt, nec recedatur a ratione ut etiam in his suffragationibus maioritas qualificata suffragiorum Cardinalium praesentium ad validitatem electionis requiratur. In his autem suffragationibus, duo Cardinales qui vocem passivam habent, voce activa carent.

Hoc documentum cum in L’Osservatore Romano evulgabitur statim vigere incipiet. Haec decernimus et statuimus, contrariis quibusvis non obstantibus.

Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die XI mensis Iunii, anno MMVII, Pontificatus nostri tertio.



1 IOANNES PAULUS II, Constitutio apostolica Universi Dominici gregis, 22 februarii 1996, in AAS 88 (1996) 305-343.

2 PAULUS VI, Constitutio apostolica Romano Pontifici eligendo, 1 octobris 1975: AAS 67 (1975) 605-645.


  1. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Fear of being killed?

  2. Very good news, this MP.

  3. Anonymous2:18 PM

    I love the title on the Vatican site: MOTU PROPRIO CON CUI IL SANTO PADRE BENEDETTO XVI RIPRISTINA LA NORMA TRADIZIONALE - 'by which he restores the traditional norm'.

    At the same time one wonders about the Holy Father's sense of humour. That was not quite the restorative MP we were expecting!

    Please God it will follow soon.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. That's hilarious; this Pope can have a joke on me any day he wants to! He and the rest of the Church know what's coming next, so why not permit oneself an amusing allusion in the course of accomplishing something else important? And it is, of course, an accurate description; this is another act of restoration.

  6. Anonymous4:06 PM

    First Cardinal Biffi is invited to preach the Lenten retreat and now this safeguard. We should all be very relieved by and thankful for this MP.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. "Fear of being killed?"

    I very happy he is acting in a responsible way, and he should. That attack by a German young man was no joke, also those life threats against the Archbishop of Genoa are completely out of place in today's society. Powerful interests must be behind it.

  9. Anonymous6:12 PM

    humbold, i'm happy too. I was just wondering why does he publish it in this exact moment and if it doesnt have any relation with the next movement he'll make 'freeing' the old mass.

    And I agree with you again when you say about the powerful interests that must be behind it. Any action of reform that Benedict XVI constructs will be in danger in the next election, so it's better to prevent...

  10. I am really worried for the personal security of Benedict XVI. He is a controversial figure and this is the kind of people that crazy people like to shoot at. This was the case with U.S. President Reagan and with John Lennon.

    He should be very responsible.

    By the way nowhere in the Vatican internet site says anything about restoring the traditional norm. Actually this new norm by Benedict XVI introduces novelties in the election of the Roman Pontiff, while recuperating tradition.

    As for the incidence of this on future decisions by the Holy Father, we will have to wait and see. I have learned to take it easy with Benedict XVI, he sometimes can act very umpredictable. We do not know what the whole picture is. Only he and Cardinal Bertone now what is global objective of these measures.

    I invite you to join in prayer with the following prayer from the apostolate of the FSSP:


    Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon Thy servant, Benedict, our Supreme Pontiff, and direct him, according to Thy loving-kindness, in the ways of eternal salvation; that, of Thy gift, he may ever desire that which is pleasing unto Thee and may accomplish it with all his might. Through Christ our Lord. Amen"


    Jesus, Savior of the world, sanctify Thy priests and sacred ministers." Amen.


  11. Anonymous10:37 PM

    This is wonderful even besides the disposition it shows to reestablish so-called "small 't' traditions."

    Although I won't say it was foreseen or intended by JP2, his rule opened the door to obstructionist strategies in the election of a pope.

    "With Peter"

  12. I am really worried for the personal security of Benedict XVI. He is a controversial figure and this is the kind of people that crazy people like to shoot at. This was the case with U.S. President Reagan and with John Lennon.

    I wouldn't worry. I'd suspect that killing the Pope with bullets and arrows, is a lot more likely than with just bullets alone. God has His plans and will work to those, not the assassins.

  13. Hey folks, a little bit off topic, but I have an interesting barometer of restorative change to report. This evening when I arrived in the sacristy prior to the tuesday evening devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I found on the sacristy countertop a stack of the most recent issue of Our Sunday Visitor, which this week features a front pave blurb on the Motu Proprio, a full page article on page three on the reform of the reform and the Tridentine rite, and a four page "In Focus" centre section comparing the two rites, and giving background to the whole controversy. If this isn't "softening up" prior to a charge over the top, I don't know what is.

    I don't know about you, but in my book OSV is the about the lowest common denomenator in the Catholic journalistic world, and frankly these articles aren't bad. In fact they're grudgingly even-handed, despite the fact that they obviously don't want to be (one or two little asides give evidence). So when it filters down to this level, I think it can be taken as evidence that something big is happening, or about to happen. Just thought I'd mention it.


Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.


(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!