ROMANO PONTIFICI ELIGENDO
Pope Paul VI
Apostolic Constitution on the Vacancy of the Apostolic See and the Election of the Roman Pontiff
Paul, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God for Perpetual Remembrance
Our readers will be interested in the regulations concerning the government of the Church during the vacancy of the Apostolic See and the procedure to be followed in the election of the Roman Pontiff. We are therefore publishing the new rules contained in Pope Paul's Constitution of 1 October 1975.
The election of the Roman Pontiff, who, as the Successor of Saint Peter in the See of Rome, is the Vicar of Christ on earth, Supreme Pastor and visible Head of the universal Church, has always been the object of special attention, and in this important matter careful provisions were made in order to safeguard the lawfulness of the election itself and the freedom of the electors.
And down the centuries the Supreme Pontiffs have considered it their prerogative, and their right and duty, to determine in the manner considered best the election of their Successors, opposing all tendencies that sought, through alterations of ecclesiastical institutions to take away their exclusive right to decide upon the composition of the body of electors and the latter's manner of exercising its functions. Nevertheless, while retaining the original basic elements of every episcopal election, this election has undergone a gradual evolution, which has been determined by the constant preoccupation to impede undue interventions and to guarantee the regularity of the procedure.
In this historical evolution, a principal role was acquired by the three higher grades of the Roman Clergy, made up of the Bishops, Priests and Deacons named Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Their pre-eminence in the papal election was sanctioned by the famous Decree In Nomine Domini of Nicholas II in the Synod of Rome of 1059.1 Alexander III, in the Third Lateran Council (1179), with the Constitution Licet de Evitanda definitively reserved the election to the College of Cardinals, which represents the Roman Church, excluding every other participation.2 From that time onwards, all further dispositions have merely applied or adapted this fundamental ordering of the election of the Roman Pontiff.
From the tradition of the Roman Church it also emerges that the college to which is entrusted the task of electing the Pontiff is permanent and constituted in such a way as to be able to act effectively when the Apostolic See becomes vacant. As certain critical moments in the history of the Church and the Papacy have shown, it is undeniable that the electoral body should be named beforehand and should not be too numerous, so that it may be convened easily and without delay. Hence it is to be ruled out that the electors of the Pontiff can be selected or appointed while the Apostolic See is vacant.
For this reason our recent predecessors also retained the ancient system of this election in its main basic elements and safeguarded its exercise; but at the same time they took care to update and to perfect it. For example, this was done by Pius XII, who called more numerous representatives of various churches of the Catholic world and of different countries to be members of the College of Cardinals, and also by John XXIII, who increased the number of members of the College and ruled that they should all be raised to the episcopate.3
We ourself, having already to some extent touched upon this matter when we introduced a number of rules regarding the Sacred College and in particular those contained in the Motu Proprio Ingravescentem Aetatem,4 now consider it necessary to proceed to the revision of certain norms concerning the election of the Pontiff, so that they may fit the present-day situation and correspond to the good of the Church. At the same time we reaffirm the principle whereby the election of the Roman Pontiff is by ancient tradition the competence of the Church of Rome, that is, of the Sacred College of Cardinals which represents her.
Following the example of our predecessors therefore, and after attentive study and adequate reflection, we have decided in the fullness of the apostolic power to issue the norms contained in this Constitution, which it is our will should replace the Constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis issued by Pius XII on 8 December 19455 and the norms promulgated by John XXIII in the Motu Proprio Summi Pontificis Electio of 5 September 1962.6
The Vacancy of the Apostolic See
The power of the Sacred College of Cardinals during the vacancy of the Apostolic See
1. During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the government of the Church is entrusted to the Sacred College of Cardinals for the sole despatch of ordinary business and of matters which cannot be postponed, and for the preparation of everything necessary for the election of the new Pope, within the terms and limits indicated in this our Constitution.
2. The Sacred College therefore during this period has no power or jurisdiction in matters which pertained to the Supreme Pontiff during his lifetime, but such matters are to be reserved totally and exclusively to the future Pontiff. We therefore declare null and void any act of power or jurisdiction pertaining to the Roman Pontiff during his lifetime which the College of Cardinals might see fit to exercise, beyond what is expressly permitted in this our Constitution.
3. We further lay down that the Sacred College of Cardinals may make no dispositions concerning the rights of the Apostolic See and of the Roman Church, nor permit any elements of these rights to lapse, either directly or indirectly, even though it be to solve disputes or to deal with acts perpetrated against these same rights after the death of the Pontiff. All are to take care to defend these rights.
4. In. the same way, while the Apostolic See is vacant, laws issued by the Roman Pontiff can in no way be corrected or modified, nor can anything be added, nor a dispensation given from a part of them especially with regard to the ordering of the election of the Supreme Pontiff. Should anything be done or even merely attempted against this disposition, by our Supreme Authority we declare it null and void.
5. Should there arise doubts concerning the meaning of the prescriptions contained in this our Constitution, or concerning the manner of putting them into effect, we decree and declare that all power of issuing a judgment concerning the same belongs to the College of Cardinals, to which we grant the faculty of interpreting doubtful or controverted points, and we establish that should it be necessary to discuss these or other similar questions, excepting the act itself of electing the Pontiff, it suffices that the majority of the Cardinals present should agree on the same opinion.
6. In the same way, should there be a question which, in the view of the majority of the assembled Cardinals, cannot be postponed until another time, the Sacred College may similarly act according to the majority opinion.
The Congregations of the Cardinals
7. While the See is vacant and until the entry into the Conclave, there are two kinds of Congregations of the Cardinals, and of them alone, namely: a General Congregation, that is, one of the whole Sacred College, and a Particular Congregation. The General Congregations must be attended by all the Cardinals who are not legitimately prevented from doing so, as soon as they are informed of the vacancy of the Apostolic See. However, Cardinals who have completed their eightieth year are granted the faculty of taking part or not. The Particular Congregation is made up of the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church and of three Cardinals, one from each order, chosen by lot from among all those who have the right to elect the Pope in accordance with paragraph 33 of the present Constitution. The office of these three Cardinals, who are called "Assistants", ceases completely on the third day after the entry into the Conclave and their place is taken, similarly by ballot, by three others every three days. During the Conclave, more important matters are if necessary dealt with by the assembly of the Cardinal electors, while ordinary affairs continue to be dealt with by the Particular Congregation of the Cardinals. In the General and Particular Congregation, during the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Cardinals are to wear the usual black cassock with piping and the red sash.
8. In the Particular Congregations only questions of lesser importance which arise from day to day or from moment to moment are to be dealt with. But should there arise more serious questions requiring a more detailed examination, these must be submitted to the General Congregation. Moreover, what has been decided, resolved or refused in one Particular Congregation cannot be revoked, altered or granted in another; the right to do this belongs solely to the General Congregation, and with a majority vote.
9. The General Congregations of the Cardinals will be held in the Apostolic Vatican Palace or, if circumstances demand it, in another place judged more suitable by the Cardinals. At these Congregations the Dean of the Sacred College presides or, in his absence, the Subdean. Should one or both of these be unable to enter the Conclave because they have completed eighty years of age, the assembly of the Cardinal electors which may take place there, on the basis of paragraph 7, will be presided over by the senior Cardinal, according to the usual order of precedence.
10. Votes in the Congregations of the Cardinals, when matters of great importance are concerned, are to be expressed not by word of mouth but in a way which preserves secrecy.
11. The General Congregations preceding the entry into the Conclave, and therefore called "preparatory", are to be held daily, beginning on the day which shall be fixed by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church and the three senior Cardinals in each order, including those days on which the obsequies of the deceased Pontiff are celebrated. This shall be done in order to enable the Cardinal Camerlengo to hear the opinion of the Sacred College and to communicate to it what is considered necessary or suitable, and in order that the individual Cardinals may be able to express their opinions on problems that present themselves, to ask for explanations in cases of doubt and to make suggestions.
12. During the first General Congregations the first part of the present Constitution, "The Vacancy of the Apostolic See", will be read out, and at the end of the reading all the Cardinals present will take an oath concerning the observance of the prescriptions contained therein and the observance of secrecy. This oath, which shall also be taken by Cardinals who arrive later and subsequently take part in these Congregations, shall be read out by the Cardinal Dean, in the presence of the other Cardinals, according to the following formula:
We, Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, promise, bind ourselves and swear, as a body and individually, to observe exactly and .faithfully all the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution Romano Pontifici Eligendo of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, and scrupulously to observe secrecy concerning everything that shall be dealt with or decided in the Congregations of the Cardinals, both before and during the Conclave, and concerning anything that in any way may pertain to the election of the Roman Pontiff.
Next, each Cardinal will say: And I, N.Cardinal N., promise, bind myself and swear. And placing his hand on the Gospels, he will add: Sohelp me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.
13. In one of the Congregations immediately following, the Cardinals, according to a prearranged agenda, shall take decisions on the more urgent matters regarding the beginning of the Conclave, that is to say they shall:
a) fix the day, hour and manner in which the body of the deceased Pontiff shall be taken into the Vatican Basilica, there to be exposed for the homage of the faithful;
b) make all necessary arrangements for the obsequies of the deceased Pontiff, which shall be performed for nine consecutive days, and decide when they are to begin;
c) nominate two separate Commissions each consisting of three Cardinals; the first shall designate those who are to enter the Conclave for the various services and who shall be responsible for the same; it shall carefully consider whether any conclavist should be admitted according to norm 45 of the present Constitution; it shall also make diligent enquiries concerning the suitability of all the conclavists. The second Commission shall take charge of the preparation and enclosing of the Conclave and of the preparation of the cells;
d) examine and approve the expenses of the Conclave,
e) read the documents left by the deceased Pontiff for the Sacred College of Cardinals, should any such exist;
f) arrange for the breaking of the Fisherman's Ring and of the lead Seal under which Apostolic Letters are despatched;
g) distribute by lot to the electors the cells of the Conclave, unless the ill-health of one or other of the electors should make other arrangements advisable;
h) fix the day and hour of entry into the Conclave.
Concerning certain offices during the vacancy of the Apostolic See
14. In accordance with the intention of the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, all the Cardinals in charge of the departments of the Roman Curia, and the Cardinal Secretary of State himself, shall relinquish the exercise of their office at the death of the Pontiff, with the exception of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, the Major Penitentiary and the Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome, who continue to exercise their ordinary functions, submitting to the Sacred College of Cardinals matters that have to be referred to the Supreme Pontiff.7
15. Should the offices of Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church or of Major Penitentiary be vacant at the death of the Pontiff, or before the election of his successor, the Sacred College shall provide as soon as possible for the election of the Cardinal or Cardinals as the case may be, and they shall hold office until the election of the Pontiff. In each of the cases mentioned, election takes place through a secret vote of all the Cardinals present, by the use of cards, which shall be distributed and collected by the Masters of Ceremonies, who will then open them in the presence of the Camerlengo and of the three Cardinal Assistants, if it is a matter of electing the Major Penitentiary; or in the presence of the said three Cardinals and of the Secretary of the Sacred College, if it is a matter of electing the Camerlengo. Whoever receives the greatest number of votes will be elected and will have ipso facto all the relevant faculties. In the case of an equal number of votes, the Cardinal belonging to the higher order or, if both are in the same order, the one first made a member of the Sacred College, will be appointed. Until the Camerlengo is elected, his functions are carried out by the Dean of the Sacred College, who can without any delay take the decisions that circumstances demand.
16. If during the vacancy of the Apostolic See the Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome should die, the Vicegerent in office at the time shall have every faculty, authority and power which belonged to that Vicar for the exercise of his office and which the Pontiff himself normally grants temporarily to the Vicegerent when the office of Vicar is vacant and until he names the new Vicar. Should there not be a Vicegerent or should he be unable to exercise his office, the Auxiliary Bishop who is senior by appointment will carry out the functions.
17. It is the task of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church during the vacancy of the Apostolic See to take charge of and administer the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three Cardinal Assistants, and after learning the views of the Sacred College, once only for less important matters, but on each occasion when more serious matters arise. Hence, as soon as he is informed of the death of the Supreme Pontiff by the Prefect of the Papal Household, the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church will officially ascertain the Pontiff's death, in the presence of the Papal Master of Ceremonies, of the Cleric Prelates of the Reverenda Camera Apostolica and of the Secretary Chancellor of the same, who shall draw up the official death certificate. It is also the task of the Camerlengo: to place the seals on the private apartment of the Pontiff; to inform the Cardinal Vicar of the death, upon which the latter will inform the People of Rome by a special notification; to take possession of the Apostolic Vatican Palace and, either in person or through a delegate, of the Palaces of the Lateran and of Castelgandolfo, and to act as custodian and administrator of the same; to decide, after consulting the heads of the three orders of Cardinals, all matters concerning the burial of the Pontiff, unless the latter during his lifetime had manifested his wishes in this regard; and, in the name of and with the consent of the sacred College, to deal with all matters that circumstances suggest for safeguarding the rights of the Apostolic See and for its proper administration.
18. The Cardinal Major Penitentiary and his Officials, during the period in which the Apostolic See is vacant, can perform what was laid down by our Precedessor Pius XI in the Apostolic Constitution Quae Divinitus of 25 March 1935.8
19. The Dean of the Sacred College for his part, as soon as he is informed of the death of the Pontiff by The Prefect of the Papal Household, shall inform all the Cardinals, convoking them for the Congregations of the Sacred College, and convoking all those having the right thereto for entry into the Conclave at the appropriate time. He will also Communicate the news of the death of the Pontiff to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See and to the Heads of the respective Nations.
20. As is laid down in the Apostolic Constitution RegiminiEcclesiae Universae, duringthe period that the Apostolic See is vacant the Substitute of the Secretariat of State or Papal Secretariat continues to carry out the duties of his office, for which he is responsible to the Sacred College of Cardinals.9
21. In the same way, during the period of vacancy the office and relevant powers of Papal Representatives do not lapse.
22. The Almoner of His Holiness will also continue to carry out works of charity according to the same criteria followed during the lifetime of the Pontiff; and he will be dependent upon the Sacred College of Cardinals until the election of the new Pontiff. It will be the task of the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church to issue the relative mandate for this.
23. During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, all the civil power of the Supreme Pontiff concerning the government of Vatican City State belongs to the Sacred College of Cardinals, which however will be unable to issue decrees except in cases of urgent necessity and solely for the time in which the Holy See is vacant. Such decrees will be valid for the future only if the new Pontiff confirms them.
Faculties of the Sacred Congregations and Tribunals of the Roman Curia during the vacancy of the Apostolic See
24. During the period of vacancy, the Sacred Roman Congregations have no faculty in those things that, Sede plena,they can only deal with and carry out facto verbo cum Sanctissimo or ex Audientia Sanctissimi or vigore specialium et extraordinarium facultatum which the Roman Pontiff is accustomed to grant to their Prefects or Secretaries.
25. On the other hand the ordinary faculties proper to each Sacred Congregation do not cease at the death of the Pontiff. We lay down, however, that the Sacred Congregation are only to make use of these faculties in order to grant requests of minor importance, while more serious or controverted matters, if they can be postponed, must be exclusively reserved to the future Pontiff. If such matters admit of no delay, they can be entrusted by the Sacred College of Cardinals to the Cardinal who was Prefect until the death of the Pontiff10 and to the other Cardinals of the same Congregation, to whose examination the Pontiff would probably have entrusted them. They will be able to decide per modum provisionis, in such circumstances, until the election of the Pontiff, what they judge most fitting and appropriate for the preservation and defence of ecclesiastical rights and traditions.
26. The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and the Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota, during the vacancy of the Holy See, continue to deal with cases according to their proper laws, with due regard however for the prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law contained in Canons 244, / 1 and 1603, / 2.
The obsequies of the Roman Pontiff
27. After the death of the Roman Pontiff, the Cardinals will celebrate, his obsequies for nine consecutive days, according to the Ordo exsequiarum Summi Pontificis vita functi; this document together with the Ordo sacrorum rituum Conclavis, forms an integral part of the present Constitution.
28. If the burial takes place in the Vatican Basilica, the relevant official document is drawn up by the Notary of the Chapter of the Basilica. Later, a delegate of the Cardinal Camerlengo and a delegate of the Prefect of the Papal Household shall separately draw up documents certifying that the burial has taken place. The first mentioned delegate shall do so in the presence of the Reverends Camera Apostolica and the second in the presence of the Prefect of the Papal Household.
29. If the Roman Pontiff should die outside Rome, it is the competence of the Sacred College of Cardinals to make all necessary arrangements for the fitting and reverent transfer of the. body to the Vatican Basilica of St Peters.
30. No one is permitted to take photographs of the Supreme Pontiff in his apartment, whether onhis sick-bed or after death, or to record his words on tape to reproduce them afterwards. If anyone, after the death of the Pope, should wish to take photographs ofhim for the sake of documentation, he shall seek permission from the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, whowill not however permit the taking of photographs of the Supreme Pontiff except attired in the pontifical vestments.
31. Before or during the Conclave, no part of the private apartment of the Supreme Pontiff is to be lived in.
32. If the deceased Supreme Pontiff has made a will concerning his property, letters and private documents and has named a personal executor thereof, it is the concern of the executor to decide and carry out, according to the mandate received from the testator, matters concerning the private property and writings of the deceased Pontiff. The executor will only give an account of the task he has carried out to the new Supreme Pontiff.
The Election of the Roman, Pontiff
The electors of the Roman Pontiff
33. The right to elect the Row-an Pontiff belongs solely to the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church exclusive of those who, according to the law previously published,11 at the moment of entry into the conclave, have already completed their eightieth year.
The maximum number of Cardinal electors must not exceed one hundred and twenty. Any intervention of any other ecclesiastical dignitary or lay power of whatsoever degree and order is absolutely excluded.
34. If the Roman Pontiff should die during the celebration of a General Council or of a Synod of Bishops taking place in Rome or in any other place in the world, the election of the new Pontiff is to be made solely and exclusively by the Cardinal electors specified above, and not by the Council or the Synod of Bishops. For this reason we declare as null and void any acts that would in any way temerariously presume to modify the electoral system or body. Moreover, the same Council or Synod of Bishops, at whatever stage it may be, must be considered as suspended, ipso iure,as soon as certain notification is received of the death of the Pontiff. It must therefore without delay close any meeting, congregation or session and desist from compiling or preparing my decrees or canons, under pain of nullity of the same. Neither the Council nor the Synod can continue for any reason, even though it be very serious and worthy of special mention, until the new Pontiff has been canonically elected and has given permission for it to be resumed or continued.
35. No Cardinal elector can be excluded from the active and passive election of the Supreme Pontiff because of, or under the pretext of, whatsoever excommunication, suspension, interdict or any other ecclesiastical impediment; these censures, for the effects of such an election only, are to be considered as suspended.
36. A Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church who has been created and published in a consistory has immediately by this very fact the right to elect the Pontiff, even if he as not yet received the biretta or been given the ring proper to Cardinals or taken the usual oath of fidelity. On the other hand, Cardinals who have been canonically deposed or who have renounced the cardinalate with the permission of the Pontiff do not have this right. Moreover, during the vacancy of the See the Sacred College of Cardinals cannot readmit or rehabilitate them.
37. We lay down moreover that after the death of the Pontiff the Cardinal electors who are present must wait fifteen full days for those who are absent; the faculty is also granted to the Sacred College of Cardinals to defer entry into the Conclave for a few more days. But once a maximum period of twenty days has elapsed all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to enter the Conclave and proceed to the election.
38. However, should some Cardinal electors arrive before the new Pastor of the Church has been elected, they shall be allowed to take part in the election at the stage it has reached.
39. All the Cardinal electors who have been convoked by the Cardinal Dean, or by another Cardinal in his name, for the election of the new Pontiff, are required, and indeed in virtue of holy obedience, to give their assent to the announcement of convocation and to proceed to the place designated for the election, unless they are detained by infirmity or by some other grave impediment, which must however be recognized as such by the Sacred College of Cardinals.
40. If it should happen that a Cardinal having the right to vote does not wish to enter the Conclave, or, once having entered, leaves it without a clear reason of illness, attested to under oath by doctors and confirmed by the major part of the electors, the others shall proceed freely to the election, without waiting for him or readmitting him to the same election. But if a Cardinal elector is constrained to leave the Conclave because of illness, the election can proceed without his voting; if however he wishes to re-enter the Conclave after his health is restored, or even before, he must be readmitted. Moreover, if a Cardinal elector leaves the Conclave for some other grave reason, recognized as such by the majority of the electors, he can return to the Conclave while it is in progress.
The Conclave and those who take part therein
41. The election of the Supreme Pontiff must take place in the Conclave—which is normally arranged in the Vatican Palace or, for special reasons, in another place—after the Conclave has been enclosed. The nullity of the election established in this regard by Gregory XV or by any other pontifical decree is however removed.
42. By "Conclave" are understood those clearly defined places, having as it were the character of a sacred retreat, where, after the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the Cardinal electors choose the Supreme Pontiff, and where they and the other officials and assistants, together with any conclavists there may be, remain night and day until the election has taken place, without having any dealings with extraneous persons or things, according to the modes and norms that follow.
43. Besides the Cardinal electors, there shall enter the Conclave the Secretary of the Sacred College, who acts as Secretary of the Conclave; the Vicar General of the Roman Pontiff for Vatican City, with one or more assistants as the Sacred College shall decide, for the care of the sacristy; and the Papal Master of Ceremonies and assistants, for the fulfilment of their proper task. In addition, the Cardinal Dean, or the Cardinal taking his place, is permitted to bring with him an ecclesiastic to act as his assistant.
44. There shall also be present a number of priests from the religious clergy, in order to make confessions possible in the principal languages; two doctors, one a surgeon and the other a general physician, with either one or two medical assistants; the Architect of the Conclave and two technicians (cf. nos. 55 and 61). All of these persons will be chosen by the majority of the Cardinals on the proposal of the Camerlengo and ofthe three Cardinal Assistants. There will also be added an appropriate number of other persons to take care of the needs of the Conclave; these will be named by the appropriate Commission of Cardinals as mentioned in no. 13c.
45. The Cardinal electors will not be entitled to bring with them any conclavist or personal assistant, whether clerical or lay. This can be conceded only in particular cases and as an exception, for the reason of serious illness. In such a case a request must be made to the Cardinal Camerlengo, explaining the reason. He will refer the matter to the relevant commission of Cardinals, which will give its decision and, if the request is allowed, will make the most careful enquiries about the persons proposed for this task.
46. All the officials and other assistants of the Conclave, whether ecclesiastic or lay, as well as any conclavists, must, under the responsibility of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, take an oath in Latin or in another language, after each of them has understood the scope of the oath and the meaning of the formula. Hence, a day or two before the entrance into the Conclave they will swear before the Secretary of the Conclave and the Papal Master of Ceremonies, who shall have been delegated for this task by the Camerlengo—and who in their turn shall have first taken an oath before the Camerlengo—(*) using the following formula translated as necessary into various languages:
I, N. N., promise and swear that I will observe inviolable secrecy about each and every matter concerning the election of the new Pontiff which has been treated or defined in the Congregations of the Cardinals, and also concerning what takes place in the Conclave or place of election, directly or indirectly concerning the balloting and concerning every other matter that may in any way come to my knowledge. I will not violate this secret in any way, either directly or indirectly, either by signs, words or writing, or in any other manner. Moreover I promise and swear not to use in the Conclave any type of transmitting or receiving instrument, nor to use devices designed in any way for taking pictures; and this under pain of excommunication latae sententiae, reserved specialissimo modo to the Apostolic See, should the above norm be violated. I will maintain this secret conscientiously and scrupulously even after the election of the Pontiff has taken place, unless a special faculty or an explicit authorization be granted to me by the same Pontiff.
In like manner I promise and swear that I will never give my help or support to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention whereby the civil powers of any order and degree or any group or individual persons, would wish to interfere in the election of the Roman Pontiff.
So help me God and these holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.
47. Any officials or any other lay assistants who may leave the Conclave, only because of manifest and obvious illness attested to under oath by the doctors, and with the consent given eorum onerata conscientia by the Cardinal Camerlengo and by the three Cardinal Assistants, may not return for any reason at all; but should it be necessary, at the same time as the sick persons leave other individuals may enter in their place, provided that they are legitimately approved and accepted and have taken the oath.
48. Should a Cardinal elector who has brought. a conclavist with him die in the Conclave, his conclavist must immediately leave and may not be taken into the service of another Cardinal elector during the same Conclave.
Entry into the Conclave
49. When the obsequies of the deceased Pontiff have been performed according to the prescriptions and the Conclave has in the meantime been prepared, the Cardinal electors shall assemble on the day appointed in Saint Peter's Basilica, or, according to circumstances, in another place, where the ceremonies laid down by the Ordo sacrorum rituum Conclavis will take place. Immediately after the celebration of the Mass in the morning or, if it seems more opportune, in the afternoon of the same day, the entry into the Conclave will take place. When the entry has been made into the Chapel the appropriate prayer is said, and when the order Extra omnes from the chapel has been given the second part of the present Constitution is read, namely "The Election of the Roman Pontiff". Then all the Cardinal electors take an oath according to the following formula, which is read aloud by the Dean or by the Cardinal who is first in order and seniority:
All we Cardinal electors present in this Conclave, as a body and. as individuals, bind ourselves and swear to observe faithfully and scrupulously all the prescriptions contained in the Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI Romano Pontifici Eligendo, issued on 1 October 1975. We likewise promise, bind ourselves and swear that whichever of us by divine disposition is elected Roman Pontiff will not cease to affirm, defend and if necessary vindicate integrally and strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and the liberty of the Holy See. Above all, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, including any conclavists, the secret concerning everything that in any way relates to the election ofthe Roman Pontiff, and concerning what takes place in the Conclave or place of the election, directly or indirectly concerning the scrutinies; not to break this secret in any way, either during the Conclave or after the election of the new Pontiff, unless we are given a special faculty or explicit authorization from the same future Pontiff. Likewise, not to accept in any way from any civil authority, under any pretext, the task of imposing the veto or exclusiva even under the form of a simple wish, and not to make known a veto which may in any way be known to us; never to lend aid or favour to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention, whereby the secular authorities of whatever order and degree or whatsoever group or individual persons would wish to interfere in the election of the Roman Pontiff.
Each of the Cardinal electors will then say: And, I, N. Cardinal N., promise, bind myself and swear, and, placing his hand on the Gospels, will add: Sohelp me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.
After this the Cardinal Dean or the Cardinal who is first in order and seniority gives a brief address to those present, exhorting them to carry out the election in the manner prescribed and with the right intention, having before their eyes solely the good of the universal Church.
50. When all this has been completed, the Prefect of the Papal Household, the Special Delegate of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City and the Commandant of the Swiss Guard who by virtue of this Constitution are entrusted with the guarding of the Conclave, will take the oath according to the prescribed formula (*) before the Cardinal Dean or the senior Cardinal and in the presence of all the Cardinal electors. The same will be done by the Cleric Prelates of the Reverenda Camera Apostolica,the Protonotaries Apostolic de numero participantium and the Auditors of the Sacred Roman Rota, who are entrusted with guarding and inspecting whatever is brought into or taken out of the Conclave. All of these persons will be assisted by the Papal Masters of Ceremonies.
51. All the Cardinal electors will then proceed to the cells assigned to them, with the exception of the Camerlengo and the three Cardinal Assistants, who remain in the Chapel in order to proceed with the enclosing of the Conclave. In the meantime, all the Officials of the Conclave and the other assistants shall as soon as possible take the oath prescribed above if they have not already done so, in the presence of the Secretary of the Conclave and the Papal Master of Ceremonies, who are delegated for this task by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.
52. Finally, when a suitable signal has been given by order of the Cardinal Dean or of the senior Cardinal the Camerlengo and the three Cardinal Assistants, together with the Papal Master of Ceremonies, with the other ceremonial assistants, the Architect of the Conclave and the two technicians, shall carefully search the various areas of the Conclave, in order that no extraneous person shall remain inside. For this reason they shall inspect all the assistants of the Conclave, including any Cardinal electors' conclavists, to ensure that no one extraneous to the Conclave has been included among them. For the purpose of this check they shall be assembled in the Chapel, where a roll-call shall be taken.
53. While the enclosure of the Conclave is being ensured from within, it must, after a careful inspection, also be ensured from without, by the Prefect of the Papal Household, the Special Delegate of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City and the Commandant of the Swiss Guard, in the presence of the Dean of the Cleric Prelates of the Reverenda Camera Apostolica, together with the Secretary Chancellor, deputed by the Camerlengo, the Masters of Ceremonies and the architects. The keys shall then be given to the Special Delegate of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City.
54. Two separate documents are to be drawn up regarding the internal and external closure, the first by the Papal Master of Ceremonies, which must be signed by the Secretary of the Conclave and by the Papal Master of Ceremonies acting as Notary in the presence of two assistant Masters of Ceremonies acting as witnesses; the other must be drawn up by one of the Cleric Prelates of the Reverenda Camera Apostolica,deputed by the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, at the office of the Special Delegate of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City, with the signatures of the Prefect of the Papal Household, the Special Delegate and the Commandant of the Swiss Guard.
Observance of the secret regarding everything that takes place in the Conclave
55. The Cardinal Camerlengo and the three Cardinal Assistants pro tempore are bound to maintain careful vigilance, making frequent visits either personally or through others to the various areas of the Conclave, to ensure that the enclosure thereof is not violated in any way. During these visits there shall always be present two technicians who by the use, if necessary, of appropriate modern equipment will test for the presence of the instruments mentioned in no. 61. Should anything of the sort be discovered, those responsible are to be expelled from the Conclave and subjected to grave penalties in the judgment of the future Pontiff.
56. After the enclosure of the Conclave, no one may be admitted to speak to the Cardinal electors and the other persons in the Conclave except in the presence of the Prelates entrusted with the guarding of the same, and such persons must speak distinctly and in language which can be understood. Should anyone enter the Conclave secretly, he is ipso facto to be deprived of every honour, rank, office and ecclesiastical benefice, or, depending upon the condition of the person concerned, subjected to appropriate penalties.
57. We likewise lay down that no letters or written matter of any sort, including printed matter, may be sent to those in the Conclave, not excluding the Cardinal electors, and, especially, from the Conclave to those outside, unless each and every such written document has first been examined by the Secretary of the Conclave, with the Prelates delegated for the guarding of the Conclave. However, an exception to this rule is made for the exchange of letters, which shall be free and unhindered, between the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Cardinal Major Penitentiary present inside the Conclave; therefore such letters bearing the official seal, will not be subjected to scrutiny and examination.
Furthermore, we explicitly prohibit the sending of newspapers or periodicals into or out of the Conclave.
58. The assistants of the Conclave also are obliged carefully to avoid whatever may in any way directly or indirectly violate secrecy, whether by words, by writings, by signs or in any other manner, under pain of excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See.
59. In particular, we forbid the Cardinal electors to reveal to their assistants or to any other person information directly or indirectly regarding the voting and what has been dealt with or decided concerning the election of the Pontiff in the Congregations of the Cardinals, either before or during the Conclave.
60. We further order the Cardinal electors, graviter onerata ipsorum conscientia,to preserve secrecy concerning these matters even after the election of the new Pontiff has taken place, and we remind them that it is not licit to break the secret in any way unless a special and explicit faculty has been granted by the Pontiff himself. We desire that this command be extended to all the other persons participating in the Conclave who, in good or bad faith, may have come to the knowledge of what took place in the Conclave.
61. Finally, in order that the Cardinal electors may protect themselves from the indiscretion of others and from possible trickery that might be exercised upon their independence of judgment and freedom of decision, we absolutely forbid the introduction into the Conclave, under whatsoever pretext, or the use, should they have been introduced, of technical instruments of whatsoever kind for the recording, reproduction or transmission of voices and images.
The carrying out of the Election
62. On the morning following the enclosing of the Conclave, after the signal, the Cardinal electors who are not prevented by illness meet in the designated Chapel, where they concelebrate or assist at Mass. At the end of the Mass and after the Holy Spirit has been invoked the election is immediately begun; it must be carried out in only one of the three ways or forms described below, otherwise it is to be considered null and void, though what is laid down in no. 76 remains in force.
63. The first manner, which can be entitled by acclamation or by inspiration,occurs when the Cardinal electors, as it were through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, freely and spontaneously, unanimously and aloud, proclaim one individual as Supreme Pontiff. This form of election, however, can take place only in Conclave and after its enclosure, and must be made by the use of the word eligo,pronounced in an intelligible manner or expressed in writing if a person is unable to utter it. It is further necessary that this form of election should be accepted unanimously by each and every Cardinal elector present in the Conclave, including the sick who remain in their cells, without the dissent of any individual and without there having previously been any special agreement concerning the name of the person to be elected. Thus for example, should one of the Cardinal electors spontaneously and without any previous special agreement say: "Most Eminent Fathers, in view of the singular virtue and probity of the Most Reverend N.N., I would judge him worthy to be elected Roman Pontiff and I now choose him as Pope", and all the others without exception should follow his example, repeating in an intelligible way the word eligo, or should anyone be unable to do so, expressing it in writing, the person thus unanimously indicated without previous special agreement would be the Pope canonically elected according to this manner of election.
64. The second way, called by delegation,takes place when, in certain particular circumstances, the Cardinal electors entrust to a group of their members the power of electing, on behalf of them all, the Pastor of the Catholic Church. In this case also, each and every Cardinal elector without exception present in the already enclosed Conclave, having decided, without any dissenting vote, to proceed by delegation, entrusts the election to some of the Fathers, who shall be of an uneven number, from a minimum of nine to a maximum of fifteen, signing for example the following formula: "In the name of the Lord. Amen. In the year..., on the... day of the month of..., we, the Cardinal electors present in this Conclave (there follow the names of each elector) individually and jointly have decided and do decide to carry out the election by delegation, and in agreement, unanimously and without any dissent we elect as our delegates the Most Eminent Fathers…, to whom we grant the full faculty and power to provide the Holy Roman Church with its Pastor, in this manner, namely...". And here it is necessary that the Cardinal electors making the delegation should clearly indicate the manner and the form whereby the delegates are to proceed to the election and what is required in order that this election should be valid, such as, for example, whether they should first propose to the entire body of electors the person whom they intend to elect, or whether they should carry out the election directly; whether all the delegates should agree upon the same person or whether they should nominate only a member of the electoral body or also someone outside it, etc. It will further be necessary to state the period of time for which the Cardinal electors intend to grant the representatives the power of electing; and then the following or similar words will be added: "And we promise to regard as Supreme Pontiff the person whom the delegates shall have decided to elect according to the aforementioned form".
When they have received this mandate with the above clauses, the delegates proceed to a separate and enclosed place, having first clearly stated, in order to be more free in speaking that they do not intend to give their consent by any pronouncement or words unless they also expressly put it down in writing. After the delegates have proceeded to the election according to the manner prescribed for them and the election has been promulgated in the Conclave, the one who has been thus elected is canonically and truly Pope.
65. The third and ordinary manner of electing the Roman Pontiff is by scrutiny.In this regard we fully confirm the law sanctioned in ancient times and faithfully observed ever since, which establishes that for the valid election of the Supreme Pontiff two thirds of the votes are necessary. In the same way, we will to maintain in force the norm laid down by our Predecessor Pius XII which prescribes that in addition to two thirds of the votes there must always be one additional vote.12
66. Election by scrutiny takes place in three phases, of which the first, which may be called the pre-scrutiny,comprises: 1) the preparation and distribution of the cards by the Masters of Ceremonies, 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 of lots is carried out publicly by the junior Cardinal Deacon, who draws out nine names, one after another, of those who shall carry out these tasks; 3) the completion of the cards, which must be carried out secretly by each Cardinal elector, who will write down, as far as possible in writing that cannot be identified as his, the name of the person he chooses, taking care not to write other names as well, since this would make the vote null; 4) the folding of the cards, which is done down the centre of each card in such a way that the card is reduced to the width of about one inch.
67. For this phase of election by scrutiny the following dispositions must be borne in mind: a) the card must be rectangular in shape, and must bear in the centre of the upper half, in print if possible, the words Eligoin Summum Pontificem; on the lower half there must be a space left for writing the name of the person chosen; thus the card is made in such a way that in can be folded in two; b) 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, in their place the names of others who are not impeded are to be drawn. The first three drawn will act as Scrutineers, the second three as Infirmarii and the last three as Revisers; c) during the voting, the Cardinal electors must remain alone in the Chapel, and therefore, immediately after the distribution of the cards and before the electors begin to write, the Secretary of the Conclave, the Papal Master of Ceremonies and the assistant Masters of Ceremonies must leave the Chapel. After their exit the junior Cardinal Deacon shall close the door, opening and shutting it again each time this is necessary, as for example when the Infirmarii go to collect the votes of the sick and when they return to the Chapel.
68. The second phase, the scrutiny properly so called, comprises: 1) the placing of the cards in the appropriate receptacle; 2) the mixing and counting of the cards; 3) the scrutiny of the votes. Each Cardinal elector, in order of precedence, having written on and folded his card, holds it up so that it can be seen and carries it to the altar, at which the Scrutineers stand and upon which there is placed a receptacle, covered by a plate, for receiving the cards. Having reached the altar, the Cardinal elector kneels, prays for a short time and then rises and pronounces aloud the following form of oath: "I call to witness Christ the Lord who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I consider should be elected". He then places the card on the plate, with which he drops it into the receptacle. Having done this, he bows to the altar and returns to his place. If because of infirmity any of the Cardinal electors present in the Chapel should be unable to go to the altar, the last of the Scrutineers goes to him and he, having pronounced the above oath, hands the folded card to the Scrutineer, who carries it in full view to the altar and emitting the prayer and oath places it on the plate, with which he drops it into the receptacle.
69. If there are sick Cardinal electors remaining in their cells, the three Infirmarii go to them with a box which has a slit in the top through which a folded card can be inserted. Before giving the box to the Infirmarii, the Scrutineers open it publicly, so that the other electors can see that it is empty; they are then to lock it and place the key on the altar. The Infirmarii,taking the locked box and an appropriate number of cards on a small tray, then go to the sick electors, each of whom takes a card, writes his vote in secret, folds the card and, after taking the above oath, puts it through the slit into the box. If any sick elector is unable to write, one of the three Infirmarii or another Cardinal elector chosen by the sick man, having taken an oath before the Infirmarii concerning the observance of secrecy, carries out the above procedure. The Infirmarii then take the box back into the Chapel and the Scrutineers, having opened it, are to count the cards contained therein and, after ascertaining that their number corresponds to the sick electors, are to place them one by one on the plate and with this drop them all together into the receptacle. In order not to prolong the voting process unduly, the Infirmarii may complete their own cards and place them in the receptacle immediately after the senior Cardinal, and then go to collect the votes of the sick in the manner indicated above while the other electors cast their votes.
70. After all the Cardinal electors have placed their cards in the receptacle, the first Scrutineer shakes the receptacle several times in order to mix them, and immediately afterwards the last Scrutineer proceeds to count them, picking them out of the receptacle in full view and depositing them in another empty receptacle previously prepared for this purpose.
If the number of cards does not correspond to the number of electors the cards must all be burned and a second vote taken at once; if however the number of cards does correspond to the number of electors, there follows the scrutiny of the cards, which takes place in the following manner.
71. The Scrutineers sit at a table placed in front of the altar. The first of them takes a card, unfolds it, notes the name of the person chosen and passes the card to the second Scrutineer, who in his turn notes the name of the person chosen and passes the card to the third, who reads it aloud and in an intelligible manner, so that all the electors present can make a note of the vote on a sheet of paper prepared for the purpose. He himself writes down the name read from the card. If during the scrutiny of the votes the Scrutineers should discover two cards folded in such a way as to appear to have been filled in by one elector, if these cards bear the same name they are counted as one vote; if however they bear different names, neither of the votes will be valid; however, in neither of the two cases is the voting annulled.
When all the votes have been scrutinized, the Scrutineers add up the sum of votes obtained by the different names, and write them down on a separate sheet of paper. As he reads out the individual cards, the last Scrutineer pierces each one with a threaded needle through the word Eligo and places it on the thread, so that the cards can be more carefully preserved. After the names have been read out, the ends of the thread are tied in a knot, and the cards thus joined together are placed in an empty receptacle or on one side of the table.
72. There then follows the third and last phase, also known as the post-scrutiny, which comprises: 1) the counting of the votes; 2) the checking of the same; 3) the burning of the cards.
The Scrutineers add up all the votes that each individual has received, and if no one has reached the majority of two thirds plus one the Pope has not been elected in this voting; if however the result is that someone has obtained two thirds of the votes plus one, the canonically valid election of the Roman Pontiff has taken place.
In either case, that is, whether the election has resulted or not, the Revisers must proceed to the checking both of the cards and of the notes of the votes made by the Scrutineers , in order to make sure that these latter have performed their task exactly and faithfully.
Immediately after the checking and before the Cardinal electors leave the Chapel, all the cards are to be burnt by the Scrutineers, with the assistance of the Secretary of the Conclave and the Masters of Ceremonies, who have meanwhile been summoned by the junior Cardinal Deacon. If however a second vote is to take place immediately, the cards from the first voting will be burned only at the end, together with the cards from the second voting.
73. In order that secrecy may be more securely observed, we order each and every Cardinal elector to surrender to the Cardinal Camerlengo or to one of the three Cardinal Assistants whatsoever kind of notes he may have in his possession concerning the result of each scrutiny. These notes are to be burnt together with the cards.
We further lay down that at the end of the Conclave the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church shall draw up a document, to be approved also by the three Cardinal Assistants, stating the result of the voting of each session. This statement, which is to be kept in the archives, shall be placed in a sealed envelope, which may be opened by no one unless the Supreme Pontiff gives explicit permission.
74. Confirming the dispositions of our Predecessor, Saint Pius X13 and Pius XII,14 we decree that both in the morning and in the afternoon, after a voting session which does not result in an election, the Cardinal electors shall proceed immediately to a second one, at which they shall again cast their votes. No account shall be taken of the votes cast in the previous sessions. In the second session all the formalities of the previous one are to be observed, with the difference that the electors are not bound to take a fresh oath or to elect new Scrutineers, Infirmarii and Revisers; what was done in this regard in the first session will be valid for the second one also, without the need for repetition.
75. Everything that has been laid down above concerning the manner of carrying out the voting must be diligently observed by the Cardinal electors in all the sessions, which are to take place each day, in the morning and in the afternoon, after the carrying out of the sacred rites and the recitation of the prayers laid down in the Ordo sacrorum rituum Conclavis mentioned above.
76. Should the Cardinal electors have difficulty in agreeing upon the person to be elected, in this case, when the sessions have been carried out for three days in the form described above (nos. 65 ff.) and no result has been achieved, the sessions are suspended for a maximum of one day in order to allow a pause for prayer, free discussions among the voters and a brief spiritual exhortation given by the senior Cardinal in the order of Deacons. The voting sessions are then resumed according to the same form and after seven sessions, if the election has not taken place, there is another pause for prayer, discussion and an exhortation given by the senior Cardinal of the order of Priests. Another series of seven sessions is then proceeded with, and, if a result has still not been reached, is followed by a fresh pause for prayer, discussion and an exhortation given by the senior Cardinal in the order of Bishops. At this point the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church will consult the electors concerning the manner of proceeding. The criterion of requiring, for an effective vote, two thirds of the votes plus one must not be abandoned, unless all the Cardinal electors unanimously, that is with no exception, express themselves in favour of a different criterion, which may consist of the delegation (cf. no. 64) or of the absolute majority of votes plus one, or of balloting between the two who in the session immediately preceding have gained the greatest number of votes.
77. Should the election be conducted in a manner different from the three procedures described above (cf. no. 63 ff.) or without the conditions laid down for each of the same, it is for this very reason null and void (cf. no. 62), without the need for any declaration, and gives no right to him who has been thus elected.
78. We lay down that the dispositions concerning everything that precedes the election of the Roman Pontiff and concerning the conduct of the election itself are also to be observed in full if the Apostolic See should become vacant as a result of the resignation of the Supreme Pontiff.
Matters to be observed and matters to be avoided in the election of the Roman Pontiff
79. As did our Predecessors, so do we also censure and condemn the detestable crime of simony in the election of the Roman Pontiff, and we inflict excommunication latae sententiae upon all those guilty of it. However, at the same time we confirm the disposition of our Predecessor Saint Pius X which removed the nullity of simoniacal election laid down by Julius II or by any other Pontifical Decree, inorder that the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not be challenged for this reason.15
80. Also in confirmation of the prescriptions of our Predecessors, we forbid anyone, even though he be a Cardinal, during the lifetime of the Pontiff and without having consulted him, to deliberate on the election of his successor, promise votes or make decisions in this regard in private meetings.
81. In the same way, we wish to confirm the provisions sanctioned by our Predecessors for the purpose of excluding any external intervention in the election of the Supreme Pontiff. In virtue of holy obedience and under pain of excommunication latae sententiae, therefore, we again forbid each and every Cardinal elector, present and future, and likewise the Secretary of the Conclave, and all other persons taking part in the Conclave, to accept under whatsoever pretext, from whatsoever civil authority, the task of proposing the veto or exclusiva, even in the form of a simple wish, or to reveal such either to the entire electoral body assembled together or to individual electors, in writing or by word of mouth, directly and personally or indirectly through others, both before and during the Conclave. We intend this prohibition to include every possible interference, opposition and desire whereby the secular authorities of whatever order and degree or whatever group or individual persons would wish to interfere in the election of the Pontiff.
82. The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of whatever kind which could oblige them to give or not to give their vote to a certain person or persons. If this should in fact be done, even under oath, we decree that it shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and we hereby inflict excommunication latae sententiae upon the transgressors of this prohibition. We do not however have the intention of forbidding the exchange of views concerning the election during the period in which the See is vacant.
83. We likewise forbid the Cardinals to enter into any compromise before the election or to undertake commitments of common accord to which they agree to be bound should one of them be elevated to the Pontificate. These promises too, should any in fact be made, even under oath, we declare null and void.
84. With the same insistence as was shown by our Predecessors we earnestly exhort the electors that in electing the Pontiff they should not let themselves be guided by friendship or aversion, or be influenced by favour or respect towards anyone, or be forced by the intervention of persons in authority or by pressure groups, by the suggestion of the mass media, or by force, fear or the seeking for popularity. But, having before their eyes solely the glory of God and the good of the Church and after imploring God's help, they shall give their vote to the person whom they judge to be more suited than the others to govern the universal Church fruitfully and usefully.
85. During the celebration of the Conclave the Church is united in a very special manner with the Pastors and especially with the Cardinal electors of the Supreme Pontiff, and implores from God a new Head as a gift of his goodness and providence. In fact, according to the example of the first Christian community spoken of in the Acts of the Apostles,16 the universal Church, spiritually united with Mary the Mother of Jesus, must "persevere in one mind in prayer"; thus the election of the new Pontiff will not be something unconnected with the people of God and reserved only to the college of electors but will be in a certain sense an act of the whole Church. We therefore lay down that in all cities and other places, at least the more important ones, after the death of the Pope has been announced and solemn obsequies have been celebrated for him, there shall be offered humble and assiduous prayers to the Lord, that he may enlighten the electors and make them so likeminded in their task that a speedy, unanimous and fruitful election may take place, as is required by the salvation of souls and the good of the whole Catholic world.
86. We also ask him who is elected not to refuse the office to which he has been elected for fear of its weight, but to submit himself humbly to the design of the divine will. For God who imposes the burden sustains him with his hand, lest he be unequal to bearing it; in conferring the heavy task upon him, God also helps him to accomplish it and, in giving him the dignity, he grants him the strength lest in his weakness he should fall beneath the weight of his office.
The acceptance, proclamation and coronation of the new Pontiff
87. When the election has been canonically carried out, the junior Cardinal Deacon summons into the Hall of the Conclave the Secretary of the Conclave, the Papal Master of Ceremonies and the assistant 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 who has been elected, with the following words: "Do you accept. your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?" And, immediately after the declaration of consent, he asks him: "By what name do you wish to be called?". Then the Papal Master of Ceremonies acting as notary and with two assistant Masters of Ceremonies acting as witnesses draw up a document concerning the acceptance by the new Pontiff and the name taken by him.
88. After the acceptance, the person elected, if he has already received episcopal ordination, is immediately Bishop of the Church of Rome, true Pope and Head of the College of Bishops; and ipsofacto he acquires and can exercise full and absolute jurisdiction over the whole Church.
Should the person elected not already be a Bishop, he shall immediately be ordained Bishop.
89. When the formalities provided for in the Ordo sacrorum rituum Conclavis have been carried out, the Cardinal electors, according to the manner laid down, approach to make their act of homage and obedience to the newly-elected Supreme Pontiff. When this has been done, an act of thanksgiving to God is made, after which the senior Cardinal Deacon proclaims to the waiting people the new Pontiff, who immediately imparts the Apostolic Blessing Urbi et Orbi.
If the person elected is not already a Bishop, homage is given to him and the proclamation made to the people only after he has been ordained Bishop.
90. If the person elected should be residing outside the Conclave, the norms contained in the above-mentioned Ordo sacrorum rituum Conclavis are to be observed.
Should the newly-elected Supreme Pontiff not already be a Bishop, as mentioned in Nos. 88 and 89, his episcopal ordination shall be performed according to the usage of the Church by the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals or, in his absence, by the Subdean or, should he too be prevented from doing so, by the senior Cardinal Bishop.
91. We lay down that the Conclave, as far as the canonical effects dealt with in no. 56 are concerned should come to an end immediately after the new Supreme Pontiff has been elected and has given assent to his election; and, it he is not a Bishop, after his episcopal ordination (cf. nos. 88 and 89). We therefore decree that from that moment the newly-elected Supreme Pontiff may be approached by the Substitute of the Secretariat of State or Papal Secretariat, the Secretary of the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, the Prefect of the Papal Household and whoever else needs to consult the elected Pontiff on matters of immediate necessity.
92. Finally, the Pontiff will be crowned by the Senior Cardinal Deacon, and, within an appropriate time, will take possession of the Patriarchal Archbasilica of the Lateran, according to the ritual prescribed.
All these things we lay down and prescribe after careful and mature reflection; and, declaring abrogated, as provided for above, the Apostolic Constitutions and Orders issued in this regard by the Roman Pontiffs, we wish this Consitution of ours to have full effect now and in the future, in such a way that everything that has been described and laid down therein should be religiously observed by all concerned and therefore should come into force, notwithstanding whatsoever disposition to the contrary, even though worthy of very special mention. If anyone therefore, knowingly or unknowingly, should act in a manner different from what we have prescribed, we order that such action is to be considered null and void.
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on the first day of the month of October in the year 1975 the thirteenth of our Pontificate.
1) Cf. Gratian, Decr. 23, c. 1.
2) Cf. Mansi, Conciliorum Amplissima Collectio,t. XXIII, 217-218.
3) Cf. Apostolic Letter given motu proprio, Cum Gravissima: AAS 54 (1962), pp. 256-258.
4) Cf. AAS 62 (1970), pp. 810-813.
5) Cf. AAS 38 (1946), pp. 65-99.
6) Cf. AAS 54 (1962), pp. 632-640.
7) Cf. Prooemium andNo. 2, para. 5: AAS 39 (1967), pp. 889 and 891.
8) Cf. No. 12: AAS 27 (1935), pp. 112 ff.
9) Cf. No. 18, para. 2: AAS 59 (1967), p. 895.
10) Cf. Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, Prooemium, loc. cit., p.889.
11) Cf. Paul VI, Motu Proprio Ingravescentem aetatem, II, 2: AAS 62 (1970), p. 811.
(*) Formula of the oath to be taken by the Secretary of the Conclave and by the Papal Master of Ceremonies: I,N.N., touching the Holy Gospels, promise and swear that I will be faithful to each and everydisposition of the Sacred College of Cardinals andthat I will carry out my office diligently and faithfully. Moreover I promise and swear that I will observe inviolable secrecy on each and every...(there follows the text of the formula of the oath of the officials of the Conclave, given above).
(*) Formula of the oath: I, N.N., promiseand swear to carry out my office diligently and scrupulously,according to the norms laid down by the SupremePontiffs and the dispositions givenby the Sacred College of Cardinals. Sohelp me Godandthese Holy Gospels which I touch with myhand.
12) Cf. Apostolic Constitution Vacantis ApostolicaeSedis, 68: AAS 38 (1946), p. 87.
13) Cf. Apostolic Constitution Vacante Sede Apostolica, 76: Pii X Pontificis Maximi Acta, III, pp. 280-281.
14) Cf. Apostolic Constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis,88: AAS 38 (1946), p. 93.
15) Cf. Apostolic Constitution Vacante Sede Apostolica, 79: Pii XPontificis Maximi Acta, III, p.282.
16) Cf. Acts 1:14.
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17 August 1978, page 3
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