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.