Rorate Caeli

Apostolic Letter given "motu proprio" Normas nonnullas,
on some modifications of the norms concerning the election of the Roman Pontiff

on some modifications of the norms 
concerning the election of the Roman Pontiff
[Latin typical text following this translation]

With the Apostolic Letter 'De aliquibus mutationibus in normis de electione Romani Pontificis' given Motu Proprio in Rome on 11 June 2007 in the third year of my pontificate, I established some norms that, rescinding those prescribed in n. 75 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis' promulgated by my predecessor Blessed John Paul II, having reestablished the regulation, sanctioned by tradition, according to which a two thirds majority of the votes of the Cardinal electors present is always required for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff.

Considering the importance of ensuring the best implementation of what is concerned, albeit with a different significance, regarding the election of the Roman Pontiff, in particular a more certain interpretation and execution of some provisions, I establish and prescribe that some norms of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis', as well as what I myself set forth in the above-mentioned Apostolic Letter, be replaced with the following norms:

35. No Cardinal elector can be excluded from active or passive voice in the election of the Supreme Pontiff, for any reason or pretext, with due regard for the provisions of n. 40 and n. 75 of this Constitution.

37. I furthermore decree that, from the moment when the Apostolic See is lawfully vacant, the Cardinal electors who are present must wait fifteen full days for those who are absent before beginning the Conclave; however, the College of Cardinals is also granted the faculty to anticipate the beginning of the Conclave if all the Cardinal electors are present as well as the faculty to defer, for serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few additional days. But when a maximum twenty days have elapsed from the beginning of the vacancy of the See, all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to proceed to the election.

43. From the beginning of the electoral process until the public announcement that the election of the Supreme Pontiff has taken place, or in any case until the new Pope so disposes, the rooms of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, and, in particular, the Sistine Chapel and the areas reserved for liturgical celebrations are to be closed to unauthorized persons, by the authority of the Cardinal Camerlengo and with the outside assistance of the Vice Camerlengo and the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, in accordance with the provisions set forth in the following Numbers.

During this period, the entire territory of Vatican City and the ordinary activity of the offices located therein shall be regulated, for the period mentioned, in a way that ensures the confidentiality and the free development of all the undertakings connected with the election of the Supreme Pontiff. In particular, provision shall be made, with the help of the Cleric Prelates of the Chamber to ensure that no one approaches the Cardinal electors while they are being transported from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Apostolic Vatican Palace.

46,  § 1°. In order to meet the personal and official needs connected with the election process, the following individuals must be available and therefore properly lodged in suitable areas within the confines mentioned in n. 43 of this Constitution: the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, who acts as Secretary of the electoral assembly; the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations with eight Masters of Ceremonies and two Religious attached to the Papal Sacristy; and an ecclesiastic chosen by the Cardinal Dean or by the Cardinal taking his place, in order to assist him in his duties.

47. All persons listed in n. 46 and n. 55,  § 2° of this Constitution who in any way or at any time should come to learn anything from any source, directly or indirectly, regarding the election process, and in particular regarding the voting which took place in the election itself, are obliged to maintain strict secrecy with all persons extraneous to the College of Cardinal electors: accordingly, before the election begins, they shall take an oath in the form and using the formula indicated in n. 48.

48. The persons listed in n. 46 and n. 55,  § 2° of this Constitution, having been duly warned about the meaning and extent of the oath that they are to take, before the start of the election process, shall, in the presence of the Cardinal Camerlengo or another Cardinal delegated by him, and in the presence of two numerary participant Apostolic Protonotaries, in due course swear and sign the oath according to the following formula:

“I, N.N., promise and swear that, unless I should receive a special faculty given expressly by the newly-elected Pontiff or by his successors, I will observe absolute and perpetual secrecy with all who are not part of the College of Cardinal electors concerning all matters directly or indirectly related to the ballots cast and their scrutiny for the election of the Supreme Pontiff.”

“I likewise promise and swear to refrain from using any audio or video equipment capable of recording anything which takes place during the period of the election within Vatican City, and in particular anything which in any way, directly or indirectly, is related to the process of the election itself.”

“I declare that I take this oath fully aware that an infraction thereof will make me subject to the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae', which is reserved to the Apostolic See."

“So help me God and these Holy Gospels, which I touch with my hand.”

49. When the funeral rites for the deceased Pope have been celebrated according to the prescribed ritual, and everything necessary for the regular functioning of the election has been prepared, on the appointed day of the beginning of the Conclave established in conformity with the provisions of n. 37 of the present Constitution, the Cardinal electors shall meet in the Basilica of Saint Peter's in the Vatican, or elsewhere, should circumstances warrant it, in order to take part in a solemn Eucharistic celebration with the Votive Mass 'Pro Eligendo Papa'. This celebration should preferably take place at a suitable hour in the morning, so that in the afternoon the prescriptions of the following Numbers of this Constitution can be carried out.

50.  From the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, where they will assemble at a suitable hour in the afternoon, the Cardinal electors, in choir dress and invoking the assistance of the Holy Spirit with the chant of the 'Veni Creator', will solemnly proceed to the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, where the election will be held. The Vice Camerlengo, the General Auditor of the Apostolic Camera, and two members of each of the colleges of numerary participant Apostolic Protonotaries, Prelate Auditors of the Roman Rota, and Cleric Prelates of the Chamber will participate in the procession.

51,  § 2°.  It will therefore be the responsibility of the College of Cardinals, operating under the authority and responsibility of the Camerlengo, assisted by the Particular Congregation mentioned in n. 7 of the present Constitution, and with the outside assistance of the Vice Camerlengo and the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, to make all prior arrangements for the interior of the Sistine Chapel and adjacent areas to be prepared, so that an orderly election and its privacy will be ensured.

55,  § 3°. Should any infraction whatsoever of this norm occur, those responsible should know that they will be subject to the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae', which is reserved to the Apostolic See.

62. Since the forms of election known as 'per acclamationem seu inspirationem' and 'per compromissum' are abolished, the form of electing the Roman Pontiff shall henceforth be 'per scrutinium' alone.

I therefore decree that, for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff, at least two thirds of the votes are required, calculated on the basis of the total number of electors present and voting.

64. The voting process is carried out in three phases. The first phase, which can be called the pre-scrutiny, comprises: 1) the preparation and distribution of the ballot papers by the Masters of Ceremonies—called meanwhile into the Hall together with the Secretary of the College of Cardinals and with the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations—who give at least two or three to each Cardinal elector; 2) the drawing by lot, from among all the Cardinal electors, of three Scrutineers, of three persons charged with collecting the votes of the sick, called for the sake of brevity 'Infirmarii', and of three Revisers; this drawing is carried out in public by the junior Cardinal Deacon, who draws out nine names, one after another, of those who shall carry out these tasks; 3) if, in the drawing of lots for the Scrutineers, 'Infirmarii' and Revisers, there should come out the names of Cardinal electors who because of infirmity or other reasons are unable to carry out these tasks, the names of others who are not impeded are to be drawn in their place. The first three drawn will act as Scrutineers, the second three as 'Infirmarii', and the last three as Revisers.

70,  § 2°. The Scrutineers add up all the votes that each individual has received, and if no one has obtained at least two thirds of the votes on that ballot, the Pope has not been elected; if however it turns out that someone has obtained at least two thirds of the votes, the canonically valid election of the Roman Pontiff has taken place.

75. If the votes referred to in n. 72, 73, and 74 of the above-mentioned Constitution do not result in an election, a day will be dedicated to prayer, reflection, and discussion. In subsequent votes, in accordance with the procedure established in n. 74 of this same Constitution, only the two whose names have received the greatest number of votes in the immediately preceding ballot will have the passive electoral right. There can be no waiving of the requirement that a valid election takes place only by a qualified majority of at least two thirds of the votes of the cardinals who are present and voting. Moreover, in these ballots, the two persons who enjoy the passive electoral right lose their active electoral right.

When the election has canonically taken place, the junior Cardinal Deacon summons into the Hall of election the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, and two Masters of Ceremonies. The Cardinal Dean, or the Cardinal who is first in order and seniority, in the name of the whole College of electors, then asks the consent of the one elected in the following words: 'Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?' And, as soon as he has received the consent, he asks him: 'By what name do you wish to be called?' Then the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, acting as notary and having as witnesses the two Masters of Ceremonies, draws up a document certifying acceptance by the new Pope and the name taken by him.

This document will enter into force immediately upon its publication in the Osservatore Romano.

This I do decree and establish, notwithstanding any instruction to the contrary.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on February 22,  2013, the eighth of my Pontificate.


[Unofficial translation provided by the Vatican Information Service, modified by Rorate according to the typical text where applicable.]

[Published in L'Osservatore Romano, February 25-26, 2013, edition, p. 7. The motu proprio entered into force immediately after its publication.]




Normas nonnullas per Apostolicas Litteras De aliquibus mutationibus in normis de electione Romani Pontificis Motu Proprio die XI mensis Iunii anno MMVII, tertio Nostri Pontificatus, datas, statuimus, quae, cum eas abrogarent normas quae in numero 75 continentur Constitutionis Apostolicae Universi Dominici gregis quam die XX mensis Februarii anno MCMXCVI Decessor Noster beatus Ioannes Paulus II promulgavit, normam statuerunt, traditione sancitam, ad quam, ut valida Summi Pontificis habeatur electio, duae ex tribus partes suffragiorum omnium Cardinalium electorum praesentium semper requiruntur.

Gravitate quidem considerata quo aptiore modo id evolvatur quod, quamvis vario pondere, ad electionem attinet Romani Pontificis, potissimum ad certam interpretationem et exsecutionem nonnullorum praeceptorum, statuimus et decernimus ut quaedam normae Consitutionis Apostolicae Universi Dominici gregis necnon ea quae in supra memoratis Apostolicis Litteris Nos Ipsi statuimus, substituantur normis quae sequuntur:

35. Cardinalis elector nulla ratione vel causa a Summi Pontificis electione activa et passiva excludi potest, vigentibus tamen iis omnibus quae sub n. 40 et 75 huius Constitutionis statuuntur.

37. Praecipimus praeterea ut, ex quo Apostolica Sedes legitime vacat, antequam Conclave incohetur, mora sit interponenda quindecim solidorum dierum, facta tamen Cardinalium Collegio potestate Conclavis initium anticipandi, si constat omnes Cardinales electores adesse, vel etiam proferendi per aliquot dies, si graves obstant causae; tamen viginti diebus ad summum elapsis ab initio Sedis vacantis, cuncti Cardinales electores praesentes ad electionis negotium procedant.

43. Ex quo initium negotiorum electionis statutum est ad peractae usque Summi Pontificis electionis publicum nuntium vel, utcumque, hoc iusserit novus Pontifex, aedesDomus Sanctae Marthae, pariterque Sacellum Sixtinum atque loci designati liturgicis celebrationibus obserari debebunt, sub auctoritate Cardinalis Camerarii externaque cooperatione Vicecamerarii et Substituti Secretariae Status, omnibus licentia carentibus, prout statuitur in sequentibus numeris.

Integra regio Civitatis Vaticanae, atque etiam ordinaria industria Ministeriorum quorum sedes stat intra eius fines, ita moderandae erunt, hoc tempore, ut circumspectio in tuto collocetur nec non expedita explicatio actionum ad Summi Pontificis electionem pertinentium. Provideatur peculiariter, Praelatis Clericis de Camera etiam opem ferentibus, ut Cardinales electores a nullo conveniantur iter facientes ab aedibus Domus Sanctae Marthae ad Palatium Apostolicum Vaticanum.

46. § 1° Ut personarum necessitatibus et officii, quae cum electionis cursu nectuntur, occurratur, praesto esse debent ideoque convenientibus locis recepti intra fines quorum in huius Constitutionis n. 43 fit mentio, Secretarius Cardinalium Collegii, qui conventus electivi Secretarii fungitur munere, Magister Pontificiarum Celebrationum Liturgicarum cum octo Caeremoniariis et duobus Religiosis qui Sacrarium Pontificium curant; atque ecclesiasticus vir a Cardinale Decano electus vel a Cardinale vicem gerente, ut in munere explendo eum iuvet.

47. Omnes personae quae n. 46 et n. 55, § 2° significantur huius Constitutionis Apostolicae, quae quavis ratione ac quovis tempore a quocumque resciscunt ea quae ad recte obliquove proprios electionis actus attinent, potissimum quae peracta ipsius electionis scrutinia contingunt, arto secreto tenentur cum qualibet persona ad Collegium Cardinalium electorum non pertinente; hac de causa, antequam incipiat electio, ius iurandum nuncupare debent, secundum modum et formulam, ut subsequens numerus indicabit.

48. Illi omnes, de quibus dicitur n. 46 et n. 55, § 2° huius Constitutionis, rite certiores facti circa significationem amplitudinemque iuris iurandi faciendi ante negotiorum electionis initium coram Cardinale Camerario vel alio Cardinale ab eo delegato et coram duobus Protonotariis Apostolicis de Numero Participantium, tempore opportuno pronuntiabunt et subscribent ius iurandum secundum hanc formulam:

Ego N. N. promitto et iuro me inviolate servaturum esse secretum absolutum cum omnibus quotquot participes non sunt Collegii Cardinalium electorum, hoc quidem in perpetuum, nisi mihi datur expresse peculiaris facultas a novo Pontifice electo eiusve Successoribus, in omnibus quae directe vel indirecte respiciunt suffragia et scrutinia ad novum Pontificem eligendum.

Itemque promitto et iuro me nullo modo in Conclavi usurum esse instrumentis quibuslibet ad vocem transmittendam vel recipiendam aut ad imagines exprimendas quovis modo aptis de iis quae tempore electionis fiunt intra fines Civitatis Vaticanae, atque praecipue de iis quae quolibet modo directe vel indirecte attinent ad negotia coniuncta cum ipsa electione. 

Declaro me editurum esse ius iurandum utpote qui plane noverim quamlibet eius violationem adducturam esse excommunicationis mihi poenam latae sententiaeSedi Apostolicae reservatae.

Sic me Deus adiuvet et haec sancta Dei Evangelia, quae manu mea tango.

49. Exsequiis defuncti Pontificis rite persolutis et apparatis iis quae requiruntur ad legitimam electionem exsequendam, die constituto - decimo quinto id est a Pontificis morte aut non ultra vicesimum diem, prout n. 37 huius Constitutionis decernitur - Cardinales omnes convenient in Basilicam Vaticanam Sancti Petri, vel alium in locum pro temporis et loci opportunitate, ad participandam sollemnem Eucharisticam celebrationem cum Missa votiva pro eligendo Papa. Hoc congruenti tempore matutino persolvendum est, ita ut horis postmeridianis impleri possit quod praescribitur sequentibus numeris huius Constitutionis.

50. A Sacello Paulino Palatii Apostolici, ubi congruo pomeridiano tempore Cardinales electores adstiterint, chorali vestimento induti sollemni processione, cantu invocantes Veni, creator Spiritus Sancti assistentiam, se conferent in Cappellam Sixtinam Palatii Apostolici, locum et sedem electionis peragendae. Processionem participabunt Vicecamerarius, Auditor Generalis Camerae Apostolicae et duo membra cuiusque Collegii Protonotariorum Apostolicorum de Numero Participantium, Praelatorum Auditorum Rotae Romanae et Praelatorum Clericorum de Camera.

51, § 2° Quapropter Collegium Cardinalium, agens de auctoritate et officio Camerarii, quem adiuvabit Congregatio particularis de qua in numero 7 huius Constitutionis, curabit ut, intra praefatum Sacellum et in locis contiguis, omnia prius disponantur adiuvantibus quoque foris Vicecamerario et Substituto Secretariae Status, ita ut regularis electio eiusdemque secreta indoles in tuto ponantur.

55, § 3° Si quid tale contra hanc normam admissum fuerit, sciant auctores se innodari excommunicationis poena latae sententiae Sedi Apostolicae reservatae.

62. Modis abrogatis electionis qui per acclamationem seu inspirationem et per compromissum dicuntur, electionis forma Romani Pontificis futuro de tempore erit tantum per scrutinium.
Decernimus igitur ut Summi Pontificis ad validam electionem saltem duae ex tribus partes suffragiorum requirantur omnium electorum praesentium et suffragia ferentium.

64. Tribus gradibus explicatur scrutinium, quorum primus, qui antescrutinium vocari potest, complectitur: 1) schedularum praeparationem et partitionem per Caeremoniarios - qui interea in aulam revocantur una cum Secretario Collegii Cardinalium simulque cum Magistro Pontificiarum celebrationum Liturgicarum – quique earum saltem duas vel tres cuique Cardinali electori dabunt; 2) ex omnibus Cardinalibus electoribus sortitionem trium Scrutatorum, trium ad infirmorum excipienda suffragia qui destinantur, qui brevitatis gratia Infirmarii appellantur, et trium Recognitorum; sortes has publice iacit novissimus Cardinalis Diaconus, qui subinde novem nomina depromit illorum qui munia haec sustinere debent; 3) si in extractione Scrutatorum, Infirmariorum et Recognitorum ducta nomina exierint Cardinalium electorum qui, ob infirmitatem vel aliam ob causam impedientur quominus officia haec gerant, eorum loco alia nomina non impeditorum depromantur. Primi tres sorte educti erunt Scrutatores, alteri tres Infirmarii, ceteri vero tres Recognitores.

70, § 2° Scrutatores in unam summam redigunt suffragia, quae quilibet obtinuit, et si nemo saltem ad duas partes ex tribus suffragiorum pervenit, non est electus Papa in illo scrutinio; si quis vero duas partes ex tribus saltem accepit, habetur electio Romani Pontificis et quidem canonice valida.

75. 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 nomina quae in superiore scrutinio maiorem numerum suffragiorum obtinuerunt, nec recedatur a ratione ut etiam in his suffragationibus minimum maioritas qualificata duarum ex tribus partium suffragiorum Cardinalium praesentium et vocem activam habentium ad validitatem electionis requiratur. In his autem suffragationibus, duo nomina quae vocem passivam habent, voce activa carent.

87. Post electionem canonice factam, ultimus Cardinalis Diaconus vocat in aulam electionis Secretarium Collegii Cardinalium et Magistrum Pontificiarum Celebrationum Liturgicarum et duos Caeremoniarios; atque consensus electi per Cardinalem Decanum aut per Cardinalium primum ordine et aetate, nomine totius Collegii electorum, his verbis requiratur: Acceptasne electionem de te canonice factam in Summum Pontificem? Statimque, post consensum declaratum, electus interrogetur: Quo nomine vis vocari? Tunc per Magistrum Pontificiarum Celebrationum Liturgicarum, munere notarii fungentem, testibus adhibitis duobus Viris a caeremoniis, instrumentum de acceptatione novi Pontificis et de nomine ab eo assumpto conficitur.

Omnia quae in his Litteris Apostolicis in forma Motu Proprio deliberavimus, ordinamus ut in omnibus earum partibus serventur, contrariis rebus minime quibuslibet officientibus.

Hoc documentum cum in actis diurnis L’Osservatore Romano evulgabitur, statim vigere incipiet.

Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die XXII mensis Februarii, anno MMXIII, Pontificatus Nostri octavo.


  1. Wake up England12:45 PM

    Golly, what does that mean?

  2. Tony from Oz1:39 PM

    So, presumably, this boils down to enabling the cardinal's to determine a commencement day for the conclave *within* the previously stipulated 15 day period from the date the See of Rome becomes vacant.

    So we will have to wait and see what date they will determine. It will be interesting to see how far forward they bring the date - although surely they would not bring it further forward than say the 10th March. What do others think?

  3. Louis E.1:58 PM

    The permission given to accelerate a conclave if all electors are already present may be moot if some electors are already known not to be attending!

  4. Introitus2:28 PM

    It means he there's as much back stabbing and intrigue in the College of Cardinal as there ever was, whether they still wear silk capes or not.

  5. But Cardinals O'Brien and Darmaatmadja won't be there. Can they still start earlier if these voting Cardinals are not there?

  6. It's all Greek... err Latin to me.

  7. Anonymous2:51 PM

    Basically, this papal document, issued in 2007, says, that the change made by John Paul II to the papal election rules, whereby only half - in some circumstances - of the cardinals' votes would be enough to elect a new Pope, is hereby abrogated, and the earlier, traditional rule, that 2/3 of teh votes are always needed to elect a new Pope, is reiinstated.

  8. solly gratia3:16 PM

    It means, if you want to make sure the election goes properly, get it done before you die.

  9. Spy Kid3:20 PM

    If this motu proprio only allows the date to be pushed sooner if ALL of the cardinal-electors are in Rome early, would this not essentially be a dead letter as it is most likely that a few cardinals will be late/sick/etc....?

  10. Golly, what does that mean?

    Apart from some essentially administrative updates to the procedure ...

    1) Security measures to ensure non-interference from third parties are significantly reinforced.

    2) The earliest possible date for the start of the Conclave is March 16th, the latest possible date being March 20th.

  11. solly gratia3:38 PM

    It's not just about the date. Vatican Radio points out that:

    "By a modification to paragraph n. 48: The oath of secrecy is extended to the individuals mentioned in Paragraph 55,2, among whom are the two "trustworthy technicians" who have the task of assisting the competent officers of the College in assuring that no audio-visual equipment for recording or transmitting has been installed by anyone in the areas mentioned, and particularly in the Sistine Chapel itself, where the acts of the election are carried out.

    "By a modification to the text of paragraph 55,3: The punishment for any violation of the oath of secrecy is to be excommunication latae sententiae (the old text provided for “grave penalties according to the judgment of the future Pope”)."

    On top of this, the Oath of Obedience has been reinstated.

    With these, and other issues, like the report from Poland by Fr Oko, I think that the fight for control of the Catholic Church has reached a critical point.

  12. No, no, it certainly is not just about the date: there are several modifications, and the one regarding the date is not even the most important, and it is not even an actual modification, but rather an interpretation. Those concerning the application of all secrecy rules to all invidividuals present in the confines of the conclave are much more important.

  13. Q Horatius4:20 PM

    The date issue seems to me a non-issue. The fifteen-day period is likely there to arrange matters after a Pope's death, and give the College some time to prepare. This time, these are unnecessary.

    The excommunication is the big thing, and one which will, hopefully, prevent or reduce the kind of gossip-mongering that has gone on since at least the second conclave of 1978.

    It's also interesting that the Chapel is being checked for bugs, essentially. perhaps thi indicates something of how informaiton leaked out after the last conclave?

  14. Prof. Basto6:31 PM

    What I consider interesting is the new rules of article 75, regarding the vote between two Cardinals only.

    In the Press Conference a day or two ago about the norms of the Apostolic Constitution Universi, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the interpretation of legislative texts was asked:

    After so many votes, there is this vote between two Cardinals only, the two best voted in the preceeding vote. They themselves do not vote, but the required 2/3 of the remaining Cardinals is still required for election.

    What happens if neither Cardinal gathers the support of 2/3 of the electors in this run-off vote?

    Then the Bishop Secretary answered that, in his opinion, to break the deadlock, everything would start all over again, with everybody becoming eligible again.

    With this Motu Proprio, the Pope decided otherwise. If the run-off takes place, then in all subsequent votes the same two people will
    continue being the only ones capable of beign chosen, until someone among them receives 2/3 of the votes.

  15. Prof. Basto6:39 PM

    Louis E.,

    But the Cardinals not attending will have to, according to the norms of the Constitution, reply to the summons stating that they cannot attend, and their excuse will have to be evaluated by one of the preparatory Congregations of Cardinals.

    So, once their excuse is accepted, they are no longer expected to attend. Then, if all Cardinals expected to attend are present, the Conclave can begin if they so choose, even if this takes place before the 15th day of the Vacant See.

  16. filiusdextris6:57 PM

    I was troubled with the run-off language in the case where one receives 2/3rds but decides to refuse election. There are no norms shown here addressing whether the electee receiving less than 1/3 is offered the papacy, or whether they start from scratch. I guess that's a remote contingency.

  17. Wake up England asked, Golly, what does that mean?"

    It means really the Conclave can begin as soon as possible provided all the Cardinals are in Rome. Since they've all been given advance notice of an abdication, most of them are already in Rome or on the way. the media reporting (true or erroneous with them). According to what the Holy Father wrote, it looks like they don't have to wait a full fifteen days unless a Pope has past away... ??

  18. Pete A7:24 PM

    Prof Basto said "With this Motu Proprio, the Pope decided otherwise. If the run-off takes place, then in all subsequent votes the same two people will
    continue being the only ones capable of beign chosen, until someone among them receives 2/3 of the votes."

    Is this really the case? Wow. It's like they are forced to be "locked-in" to those 2 candidates....hmmmm...

    I think this, coupled with the other stipulations, imply that it is canonically impossible for someone outside of the college of cardinal-electors to be nominated Supreme Pontiff. (Not that this was likely before) much for Pope Athanasius Schneider :-(

  19. So, if my humble, uninformed conclusion is correct, the next pope will likely be a front runner out of the gate. Expect no surprises.

  20. Prof. Basto8:03 PM

    It is. Just compare the text of article 75 promulgated with the Apostolic Letter "Constitutione Apostolica Universi" of 2007 with the new text of article 75 now published with this Apostolic Letter "Normas nonnullas".

    The new text makes clear that "In subsequent votes", not only in the one subsequent vote after the number of normal votes that trigger the run-off, the election will be between the two best voted men.

  21. Prof. Basto8:16 PM


    The scenario you allude to is really a matter for interpretation, because the Constitution is absolutely silent and contains no norm regarding that point, namely --- what happens after the runoff if the elected Cardinal decides to refuse the Pontificate?

    But, fortunately, the Constitution states that doubts of interpretation can be adjudicated by the College with a majority vote.

    My opinion is this. The number of ballots, the procedures if certain number of ballots are not successful, the days of reflection, the run-off, etc., they all cease once there is a valid election.

    The Constitution states that to become Pope, three conditions must be met: canonical election, acceptance and possession of episcopal ordination.

    So, if a candidate is elected, the first condition, canonical election, is accomplished.

    If the elected person refuses, the secretary of the Conclave, the Master of Ceremonies and the two cerimonieri withdraw, the votes are burned so that black smoke is issued, and the Conclave continues. But the fact is that, with this refused election, one canonical election took place, although it was not sufficient to provide the Church with a Pope (due to the refusal to accept the office).

    Then, this canonical election, having been refused, is discarded, and the subsequent ballots indeed constitute a new election, although in the same Conclave.

    In other words, you cannot say that the College was deadlocked, that it did not succeed in choosing a candidate, when a candidate got the necessary votes and refused to accept his valid canonical election.

    So, in this case of refusal of the Pontificate, my interpretation would be that everything starts from scratch, including the counting of the days for the purposes of a pause and day of reflection, and also for the purposes of run-off.

    Nothing authorizes the Papacy to be offered to the Cardinal with less votes, because the Constitution states that the 2/3 are always required.

    So, if the person elected in runoff refuses to accept, obviously in the new canonical election the runoff rules no longer applies, the procedures start afresh, and everybody is eligible.

  22. Wonderful to see the document in Latin.
    Good to see the two thirds rule return.
    As cardinals no longer travel to Rome on horseback or in carriages there is no reason to delay the procedures overly.
    After all the recent leaks and the rumour-mongering I am not surprised to see the secrecy mechanisms as detailed as they are with the necessary ultimate ecclesiastical sanction.

  23. Louis E.1:24 AM

    The double requirement of a two-thirds vote and limiting the field to two candidates after a set period could be a prescription for catastrophe...if both the top two vote-getters when the candidate limit kicks in are inalterably opposed by 39 cardinals,no pope can ever be elected barring deaths of voters being lopsided!

  24. 302kmmemiNew paragraph 37 is not the same in the Latin as in the English crib. The Latin says that the Conclave may begin early if it is agreed (constat) that all the electors are present. This could make a difference.

  25. "In subsequent votes, in accordance with the procedure established in n. 74 of this same Constitution, only the two whose names have received the greatest number of votes in the immediately preceding ballot will have the passive electoral right. There can be no waiving of the requirement that a valid election takes place only by a qualified majority of at least two thirds of the votes of the cardinals who are present and voting. Moreover, in these ballots, the two persons who enjoy the passive electoral right lose their active electoral right."

    "Passive electoral right" is the right to be elected. "Active electoral right" is the right to vote. So it looks to me that on subsequent ballots, while the two frontrunners are the only ones who are eligible to be elected, they lose their ability to vote.

  26. Prof. Basto10:28 PM

    Louis E. writes: "The double requirement of a two-thirds vote and limiting the field to two candidates after a set period could be a prescription for catastrophe...if both the top two vote-getters when the candidate limit kicks in are inalterably opposed by 39 cardinals,no pope can ever be elected barring deaths of voters being lopsided!"

    I agree. While the Cardinals, after a few ballots, would probably surrender their votes to one of the two possible candidates in sufficient numbers so as to accomplish an election, the possibility of an invincible deadlock is real if there is an unwavering rejection of both candidates by more than 1/3 of the College each. So the new norms promulgated by Benedict XVI do create the possibility of an inalterable deadlock.

    It would be much better if we simply had the 2/3 majority requirement at all times, but without any procedure to limit the number of candidates.

    If the Cardinals were really deadlocked, some name would emerge that would command their consensus, to the point of reaching the traditional 2/3 majority. But if you limit the choice of names, then you limit the possibility of consensus.

  27. I disagree with doubts cast about the two-thirds rule - it worked before and it will work again. As for the simple majority I felt at the time it was designed to facilitate Cardinal Ratzinger's election. However, that was just my opinion.


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