Motu Proprio on the Conferring of the Sacred Pallium

Author: Pope Paul VI


Pope Paul VI

Apostolic Letter
of the Supreme Pontiff 
Paul VI 
given "Motu Propio" 
the Conferring of 
the Sacred Pallium 
in the Church

The use of the Pallium, which is taken from the venerated tomb of the Blessed Apostle Peter, is rightly numbered among the insignia proper to the office of the Bishop. Various Churches and their bishops, first in Europe and then throughout the world, merited to be honoured with it from the earliest times by the Apostolic See.1

In fact, the Pallium, "which signifies the power of an archbishop",2 "belongs by right to archbishops alone",3 since when it is given "the plenitude of the pontifical office is conferred with the mention of the title of archbishop".4 Nevertheless, as is clear from historical records,5 the Roman Pontiffs, following an early custom, honoured permanently with the Pallium of an archbishop not only episcopal churches which by reason of their location, their antiquity and their unswerving obedience to the See of Peter strove to increase their splendour and enhance their dignity; they also honoured the outstanding merits of illustrious bishops with the personal privilege of the Pallium.6

Since, however, the Second Vatican Council decided that the rights and privileges of metropolitans should be defined according to new and suitable norms,7 we have resolved meanwhile to examine the privileges and customs in connection with the conferring of the Pallium, so that this symbol of the power of the metropolitan should stand out more clearly.8

Wherefore having consulted the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the Pontifical Commissions for the revision of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Church, having considered their views and therefore being well informed, with our supreme and Apostolic authority we decree for the whole of the Latin Church that from now on the sacred Pallium be given only to metropolitans and to the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latin rite.9 We abrogate all privileges and customs which certain particular Churches and some prelates enjoy as a special favour at present.

Butin so far as the Eastern Churches are concerned, we abrogate canon 322 contained in the Apostolic Letter "Cleri Sanctitati".10

Nevertheless We allow the archbishops and bishops, who up to now have been given the Pallium, to enjoy the use of it as long as they are pastors of the churches entrusted to them at the present time.

However the use of the sacred Pallium at the ordination of the Supreme Pontiff elect, who is not yet a bishop, is given in law11 to the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinalsor to that Cardinal to whom it belongs to celebrate the rite of ordination according to the norm of the Apostolic Constitution "Romano Pontifici eligendo".12

These norms come into force from the day on which they are published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

We order all that has been decreed by Us in this "motu proprio" to be unalterable and ratified notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if it is worthy of special mention.

Given at St Peter's, Rome, on the 11th day of May in the year 1978, the fifteenth of Our Pontificate.


1) Cfr Pontificale Romanum, pars prima, editio typica, Romae 1962, p. 92.

2) Can. 275 C.I.C.

3) Benedictus XIV, De Synodo dioecesana lib. II, 6, n.l.

4) Benedictus XIV, Const. Ad Honorandum, 27 mart. 1754, §17.

5) Cfr BenedictusXIV, De Synodo dioecesana. 1.c.

6) Cfr BenedictusXIV, Const. Inter Conspicuos, 29 aug. 1744, n.18.

7) Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Decr. de past. episcop. munere in Ecclesia, Christus Dominus, n.40; A.A.S. 58 (1966) p.694.

8) Cfr Can. 275C.I.C.

9) Cfr Pius IX, Litt. Apost. Nulla Celebrior, 23 July 1847: Acta Pii IX. pars. I, vol. 1, p. 62.

10) Cfr A.A.S. 49 (1957), p. 529.

11) Cfr Can. 239 §2, C.I.C.

12) A.A.S. 67 (1975), pp. 644-645.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
10 August 1978, page 3

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