Editae Saepe

On St. Charles Borromeo

Encyclical of Pope Pius X

May 26, 1910.

To the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Blessing.

1. Sacred Scripture records the divine word saying that men will remember the just man forever, for even though he is dead, he yet speaks (1 ) . Both in word and deed the Church has for a long time verified the truth of that saying. She is the mother and the nurse of holiness, ever renewed and enlivened by the breath of the Spirit Who dwells in us (2 ) . She alone conceives, nourishes, and educates the noble family of the just. Like a loving mother, she carefully preserves the memory of and affection for the saints. This remembrance is, as it were, a divine comfort which lifts her eyes above the miseries of this earthly pilgrimage so that she finds in the saints "her joy and her crown." Thus she sees in them the sublime image of her heavenly Spouse. Thus she shows her children in each age the timeliness of the old truth: "For those who love God all things work together unto good, for those who, according to his purpose, are saints through his call" (3 ) .

The glorious deeds of the saints, however, do more than afford us comfort. In order that we may imitate and be encouraged by them, one and all the saints echo in their own lives the saying of Saint Paul, "I beg you, be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (4 ) .

2. For that reason, Venerable Brethren, immediately after Our elevation to the Supreme Pontificate We stated in Our first encyclical that We would labor without ceasing "to restore all things in Christ" (5 ) . We begged everyone to turn their eyes with Us to Jesus, "the apostle and high priest of our confession...the author and finisher of faith" (6 ) . Since the majesty of that Model may be too much for fallen human nature, God mercifully gave Us another model to propose for your imitation, the glorious Virgin Mother of God. While being as close to Christ as human nature permits, she is better suited to the needs of our weak nature (7 ) . Over and above that, We made use of several other occasions to recall the memory of the saints. We emulated these faithful servants and ministers of God's household (each in his own way enjoying the friendship of God), "who by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained promises" (8 ) . Thus encouraged by their example, we would be "now no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine devised in the wickedness of men, in craftiness, according to the wiles of error. Rather are we to practice the truth in love, and so grow up in all things in him who is the head, Christ" (9 ) .

3. We have already pointed to how Divine Providence was perfectly realized in the lives of those three great doctors and pastors of the Church, Gregory the Great, John Chrysostom and Anselm of Aosta. Although they were separated by centuries, the Church was beset by many serious dangers in each of their respective ages. In recent years We celebrated all of their solemn centenaries. In a very special way, however, we commemorated Saint Gregory the Great in the encyclical of March 12, 1904, and Saint Anselm in the encyclical of April 21, 1909. In these documents We treated those points of Christian doctrine and morals found in the example and teaching of these saints which We thought were best suited to our times.

4. As We have already mentioned, (10 ) We are of the opinion that the shining example of Christ's soldiers has far greater value in the winning and sanctifying of souls than the words of profound treatises. We therefore gladly take this present opportunity to teach some very useful lessons from the consideration of the life of another holy pastor whom God raised up in more recent times and in the midst of trials very similar to those We are experiencing today. We refer to Saint Charles Borromeo, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church and Archbishop of Milan, whom Paul V, of holy memory, raised to the altar of the saints less than thirty years after his death. The words of Our Predecessor are to the point: "The Lord alone performs great wonders and in recent times He has accomplished marvelous things among Us. In His wonderful dispensation He has set a great light on the Apostolic rock when He singled Charles out of the heart of the Roman Church as the faithful priest and good servant to be a model for the pastors and their flock. He enlightened the whole Church from the light diffused by his holy works. He shone forth before priests and people as innocent as Abel, pure as Enoch, tireless as Jacob, meek as Moses, and zealous as Elias. Surrounded by luxury, he exhibited the austerity of Jerome, the humility of Martin, the pastoral zeal of Gregory, the liberty of Ambrose, and the charity of Paulinus. In a word, he was a man we could see with our eyes and touch with our hands. He trampled earthly things underfoot and lived the life of the spirit. Although the world tried to entice him he lived crucified to the world. He constantly sought after heavenly things, not only because he held the office of an angel but all because even on earth he tried to think and act as an angel" (11 ) .

5. Such are the words of praise Our Predecessor wrote after Charles' death. Now, three centuries after his canonization, "we can rightly rejoice on this day when We solemnly confer, in the name of the Lord, the sacred honors on Charles, Cardinal Priest, thereby crowning his own Spouse with a diadem of every precious stone." We agree with Our Predecessor that the contemplation of the glory (and even more, the example and teaching of the saints) will humiliate the enemy and throw into confusion all those who
«glory in their specious errors" (12 ) . Saint Charles is a model for both clergy and people in these days. He was the unwearied advocate and defender of the true Catholic reformation, opposing those innovators whose purpose was not the restoration, but the effacement and destruction of faith and morals. This celebration of the third centenary of his canonization should prove to be not only a consolation and lesson for every Catholic but also a noble incentive for everyone to cooperate wholeheartedly in that work so dear to Our heart of restoring all things in Christ.

6. You know very well, Venerable Brethren, that even when surrounded by tribulation the Church still enjoys some consolation from God. "Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for her, that he might sanctify order that he might present to himself the Church in all her glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish" (13 ) . When vice runs wild, when persecution hangs heavy, when error is so cunning that it threatens her destruction by snatching many children from her bosom (and plunges them into the whirlpool of sin and impiety)--then, more than ever, the Church is strengthened from above. Whether the wicked will it or not, God makes even error aid in the triumph of Truth whose guardian and defender is the Church. He puts corruption in the service of sanctity, whose mother and nurse is the Church. Out of persecution He brings a more wondrous "freedom from our enemies." For these reasons, when worldly men think they see the Church buffeted and almost capsized in the raging storm, then she really comes forth fairer, stronger, purer, and brighter with the luster of distinguished virtues.

7. In such a way God's goodness bears witness to the divinity of the Church. He makes her victorious in that painful battle against the errors and sins that creep into her ranks. Through this victory He verifies the words of Christ: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (14 ) . In her day-to-day living He fulfills the promise, "Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (15 ) . Finally, He is the witness of that mysterious power of the other Paraclete (Who Christ promised would come immediately after His ascension into heaven), who continually lavishes His gifts upon her and serves as her defender and consoler in all her sorrows. This is the Spirit Who will "dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him...he will dwell with you and be in you" (16 ) . The life and strength of the Church flows forth from this font. As the ecumenical Vatican Council teaches, this divine power sets the Church above every other society by those obvious notes which mark her "as a banner raised up among the nations" (17 ) .

8. In fact, only a miracle of that divine power could preserve the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, from blemish in the holiness of Her doctrine, law, and end in the midst of the flood of corruption and lapses of her members. Her doctrine, law and end have produced an abundant harvest. The faith and holiness of her children have brought forth the most salutary fruits. Here is another proof of her divine life: in spite of a great number of pernicious opinions and great variety of errors (as well as the vast army of rebels) the Church remains immutable and constant, "as the pillar and foundation of truth," in professing one identical doctrine, in receiving the same Sacraments, in her divine constitution, government, and morality. This is all the more marvelous when one considers that the Church not only resists evil but even "conquers evil by doing good." She is constantly blessing friends and enemies alike. She is continually striving and ardently desiring to bring about the social and individual Christian restoration which is her particular mission in the world. Moreover, even her enemies benefit from it.

9. This wonderful working of Divine Providence in the Church's program of restoration was seen with the greatest clarity and was given as a consolation for the good especially in the century of Saint Charles Borromeo. In those days passions ran riot and knowledge of the truth was almost completely twisted and confused. A continual battle was being waged against errors. Human society, going from bad to worse, was rushing headlong into the abyss. Then those proud and rebellious men came on the scene who are "enemies of the cross of Christ . . .Their god is the belly...they mind the things of earth" (18 ) . These men were not concerned with correcting morals, but only with denying dogmas. Thus they increased the chaos. They dropped the reins of law, and unbridled licentiousness ran wild. They despised the authoritative guidance of the church and pandered to the whims of the dissolute princes and people. They tried to destroy the Church's doctrine, constitution and discipline. they were similar to those sinners who were warned long ago: "Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil" (19 ) . They called this rebellious riot and perversion of faith and morals a reformation, and themselves reformers. In reality, they were corrupters. In undermining the strength of Europe through wars and dissensions, they paved the way for those modern rebellions and apostasy. This modern warfare has united and renewed in one attack the three kinds of attack which have up until now been separated; namely, the bloody conflicts of the first ages, the internal pests of heresies, and finally, in the name of evangelical liberty, the vicious corruption and perversion of discipline such as was unknown, perhaps, even in medieval times. Yet in each of these combats the Church has always emerged victorious.

10. God, however, brought forth real reformers and holy men to arrest the onrushing current, to extinguish the conflagration, and to repair the harm caused by this crowd of seducers. Their many-sided zealous work of reforming discipline was especially consoling to the Church since the tribulation afflicting her was so great. Their work also proves the truth that "God is faithful and ... with the temptation will also give you a way out ...." (20 ) In these circumstances God provided a pleasing consolation for the Church in the outstanding zeal and sanctity of Charles Borromeo.

11. God ordained that his ministry would be the effective and special means of checking the rebels' boldness and teaching and inspiring the Church's children. He restrained the former's mad extravagances by the example of his life and labor, and met their empty charges with the most powerful eloquence. He fanned the latter's hopes and kindled their zeal. Even from his youth he cultivated in a remarkable manner all the virtues of the true reformer which others possessed only in varying degrees. These virtues are fortitude, counsel, doctrine, authority, ability, and alacrity. He put them all in the service of Catholic truth against the attacks of error (which is precisely the mission of the Church). He revived the faith that had either become dormant or almost extinct in many by strengthening it with many wise laws and practices. He restored that discipline which had been overthrown by bringing the morals of clergy and people alike back to the ideals of Christian living. In executing all the duties of a reformer he also fulfilled the functions of the "good and faithful servant." Later he performed the works of the high priest who "pleased God in his days and was found just." He is, therefore, a worthy example for both clergy and laity, rich and poor. He can be numbered among those whose excellence as a bishop and prelate is eulogized by the Apostle Peter when he says that he became «from the heart a pattern to the flock" (21 ) . Even before the age of twenty- three and although elevated to the highest honors and entrusted with very important and difficult ecclesiastical matters, Charles made truly wonderful daily progress in the practice of virtue through the contemplation of divine things. This sacred retirement perfected him, prepared him for later days, and caused him to shine forth as "a spectacle to the world, and angels, and men."

12. Then (again borrowing the words of Our Predecessor, Paul V), the Lord began to work His wonders in Charles. He filled him with a wisdom, justice, and burning zeal for promoting His glory and the Catholic cause. Above all, the Lord filled him with a great concern for restoring the faith in the Church universal according to the decrees of the renowned Council of Trent. That Pontiff himself, as well as all future generations, attributed the success of the Council to Charles, since even before carrying its decrees into action he was its most ardent promoter. In fact, his many vigils, trials, and labors brought its work to its ultimate completion.

13. All these things, however, were only a preparation or sort of novitiate where he trained his heart in piety, his mind in study, and his body in work (always remaining a modest and humble youth) for that life in which he would be as clay in the hands of God and His Vicar on earth. The innovators of that time despised just that kind of life of preparation. The same folly leads the modern innovators also to spurn it. They fail to see that God's wondrous works are matured in the obscurity and silence of a soul dedicated to obedience and contemplation. They cannot see that just as the hope of the harvest lies in the sowing, so this preparation is the germ of future progress.

14. As We have already hinted, this sanctity and industry prepared under such conditions in due time came to produce a truly marvelous fruit. When Charles, "good laborer that he was left the convenience and splendor of the city for the field (Milan) he was to cultivate, he discharged his duties better and better from day to day. Although the wickedness of the time had caused that field to become overrun with weeds and rank growths, he restored it to its pristine beauty. In time the Milanese Church became an example of ecclesiastical discipline" (22 ) . He effected all these outstanding results in his work of reformation by adopting the rules the Council of Trent had only recently promulgated.

15. The Church knows very well that "the imagination and thought of man's heart are prone to evil" (23 ) . Therefore she wages continual battle against vice and error "in order that the body of sin may be destroyed, that we may no longer be slaves to sin" (24 ) . Since she is her own mistress and is guided by the grace which "is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit," she is directed in this conflict in thought and action by the Doctor of the Gentiles, who says, "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind...And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed in the newness of your mind, that you may discern what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (25 ) . The true son of the Church and reformer never thinks he has attained his goal. Rather, with the Apostle, he acknowledges that he is only striving for it: "Forgetting what is behind, I strain forward to what is before, I press on towards the goal, to the prize of God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus" (26 ) .

16. Through our union with Christ in the Church we grow up "in all things in him who is the head, Christ. For from him the whole body...derives its increase to the building up for itself in love...." (27 ) . For that reason Mother Church daily fulfills the mystery of the Divine Will which is "to be dispensed in the fullness of the times: to re-establish all things in Christ" (28 ) .

17. The reformers that Borromeo opposed did not even think of this. They tried to reform faith and discipline according to their own whims. Venerable Brethren, it is no better understood by those whom We must withstand today. These moderns, forever prattling about culture and civilization, are undermining the Church's doctrine, laws, and practices. They are not concerned very much about culture and civilization. By using such high-sounding words they think they can conceal the wickedness of their schemes.

18. All of you know their purpose, subterfuges, and methods. On Our part We have denounced and condemned their scheming. They are proposing a universal apostasy even worse than the one that threatened the age of Charles. It is worse, We say, because it stealthily creeps into the very veins of the Church, hides there, and cunningly pushes erroneous principles to their ultimate conclusions.

19. Both these heresies are fathered by the "enemy" who "sowed weeds among the wheat" (29 ) in order to bring about the downfall of mankind. Both revolts go about in the hidden ways of darkness, develop along the same line, and come to an end in the same fatal way. In the past the first apostasy turned where fortune seemed to smile. It set rulers against people or people against rulers only to lead both classes to destruction. Today this modern apostasy stirs up hatred between the poor and the rich until, dissatisfied with their station, they gradually fall into such wretched ways that they must pay the fine imposed on those who, absorbed in worldly, temporal things, forget "the kingdom of God and His justice." As a matter of fact, this present conflict is even more serious than the others. Although the wild innovators of former times generally preserved some fragments of the treasury of revealed doctrine, these moderns act as if they will not rest until they completely destroy it. When the foundations of religion are overthrown, the restraints of civil society are also necessarily shattered. Behold the sad spectacle of our times! Behold the impending danger of the future! However, it is no danger to the Church, for the divine promise leaves no room for doubt. Rather, this revolution threatens the family and nations, especially those who actively stir up or indifferently tolerate this unhealthy atmosphere of irreligion.

20. This impious and foolish war is waged and sometimes supported by those who should be the first to come to Our aid. The errors appear in many forms and the enticements of vice wear different dresses. Both cause many even among our own ranks to be ensnared, seducing them by the appearance of novelty and doctrine, or the illusion that the Church will accept the maxims of the age. Venerable Brethren, you are well aware that we must vigorously resist and repel the enemy's attacks with the very weapons Borromeo used in his day.

21. Since they attack the very root of faith either by openly denying, hypocritically undermining, or misrepresenting revealed doctrine, we should above all recall the truth Charles often taught. "The primary and most important duty of pastors is to guard everything pertaining to the integral and inviolate maintenance of the Catholic Faith, the faith which the Holy Roman Church professes and teaches, without which it is impossible to please God" (30 ) . Again: "In this matter no diligence can be too great to fulfill the certain demands of our office" (31 ) . We must therefore use sound doctrine to withstand "the leaven of heretical depravity," which if not repressed, will corrupt the whole. That is to say, we must oppose these erroneous opinions now deceitfully being scattered abroad, which, when taken all together, are called Modernism. With Charles we must be mindful
«of the supreme zeal and excelling diligence which the bishop must exercise in combating the crime of heresy" (32 ) .

22. We need not mention the Saint's other words (echoing the sanctions and penalties decreed by the Roman Pontiffs) against those prelates who are negligent or remiss in purging the evil heresy out of their dioceses. It is fitting, however, to meditate on the conclusions he draws from these papal decrees. "Above everything else," he says, "the Bishop must be eternally on guard and continually vigilant in preventing the contagious disease of heresy from entering among his flock and removing even the faintest suspicion of it from the fold. If it should happen to enter (the Lord forbid!), he must use every means at his command to expel it immediately. Moreover, he must see to it that those infected or suspected be treated according to the pontifical canons and sanctions" (33 ) .

23. Liberation or immunity from this disease of heresy is possible only when the clergy are properly instructed, since "faith... depends on hearing, and hearing on the word of Christ" (34 ) . Today we must heed the words of truth. We see this poison penetrating through all the veins of the State (from sources where it would be the least expected) to such an extent that the causes are the same as those Charles records in the following words: «If those who associate with heretics are not firmly rooted in the Faith there is reason to fear that they will easily be seduced by the heretics into the trap of impiety and false doctrine" (35 ) . Nowadays facility in travel and communication has proven just as advantageous for error as for other things. We are living in a perverse society of unbridled license of passions in which "there is no truth...and there is no knowledge of God," (36 ) in "all the land made desolate, because there is none that considereth in the heart" (37 ) . For that reason, borrowing the words of Charles, "we have already emphasized the importance of having all the faithful of Christ well instructed in the rudiments of Christian doctrine" (38 ) and have written a special encyclical letter on that extremely important subject (39 ) . However, We do not wish to repeat the lamentation Borromeo was moved to utter because of his burning zeal, namely, that "up until now We have received very little success in a matter of such importance." Rather, moved like him
«by the enormity and danger of the task," We would once again urge everyone to make Charles his model of zeal so that he will contribute in this work of Christian restoration according to his position and ability. Fathers and employers should recall how the holy Bishop frequently and fervently taught that they should not only afford the opportunity but even consider it their duty to see that their children, servants, and employees study Christian doctrine. Clerics should remember that they must assist the parish priests in the teaching of Christian doctrine. Parish priests should erect as many schools for this same purpose as the number and needs of the people demand. They should further take care that they have upright teachers, who will be assisted by men and women of good morals according to the manner the holy Archbishop Milan prescribed (40 ) .

24. Obviously the need of this Christian instruction is accentuated by the decline of our times and morals. It is even more demanded by the existence of those public schools, lacking all religion, where everything holy is ridiculed and scorned. There both teachers' lips and students' ears are inclined to godlessness. We are referring to those schools which are unjustly called neutral or lay. In reality, they are nothing more than the stronghold of the powers of darkness. You have already, Venerable Brethren, fearlessly condemned this new trick of mocking liberty especially in those countries where the rights of religion and the family have been disgracefully ignored and the voice of nature (which demands respect for the faith and innocence of youth) has been stifled. Firmly resolved to spare no effort in remedying this evil caused by those who expect others to obey them (although they refuse to obey the Supreme Master of all things themselves), We have recommended that schools of Christian doctrine be erected in those cities where it is possible. Thanks to your efforts, this work has already made good progress. It is, however, very much to be desired that this work spread even more widely, with many such religious schools established everywhere and teachers of sound doctrine and good morals provided.

25. The preacher (whose duty is closely allied to the teacher of the fundamentals of religion) should also have the same qualities of sound doctrine and good morals. For that reason, when drawing up the statutes of the provincial and diocesan synods, Charles was most careful to provide preachers full of zeal and holiness to exercise "the ministry of the word." We are convinced that this care is even more urgent in our times when so many men are wavering in the Faith and some vain-glorious men, filled with the spirit of the age, "adulterate the word of God" and deprive the faithful of the food of life.

26. We must spare no pains, Venerable Brethren, in seeing that the flock does not feed on this air of foolish empty-headed men. Rather, it should be nourished with the life-giving food of "the ministers of the word." These can truly say, "On behalf of Christ...we are acting as ambassadors, God, as it were, appealing through reconciled to God...we avoid unscrupulous conduct, we do not corrupt the word of God; but making known the truth, we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God..." We are workmen "that cannot be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (41 ) . Those very holy and fruitful rules the Bishop of Milan frequently laid down for his people have a similar value for us. They can best be summarized in these words of Saint Paul: "When you heard and received from us the word of God, you welcomed it not as the word of man, but, as it truly is, the word of God, who works in you who have believed" (42 ) .

27. "The word of God is living and efficient and keener than any two-edged sword" (43 ) . It will not only preserve and defend the faith but also effectively motivate us to do good works since "faith...without works is dead" (44 ) . "For it is not they who hear the Law that are just in the sight of God; but it is they who follow the Law that will be justified" (45 ) .

28. Now in this also we see the immense difference between true and false reform. The advocates of false reform, imitating the fickleness of the foolish, generally rush into extremes. They either emphasize faith to such an extent that they neglect good works or they canonize nature with the excellence of virtue while overlooking the assistance of faith and divine grace. As a matter of fact, however, merely naturally good acts are only a counterfeit of virtue since they are neither permanent nor sufficient for salvation. The work of this kind of a reformer cannot restore discipline. On the contrary, it ruins faith and morals.

29. On the other hand, the sincere and zealous reformer will; like Charles, avoid extremes and never overstep the bounds of true reform. He will always be united in the closest bonds with the Church and Christ, her Head. There he will find not only strength for his interior life but also the directives he needs in order to carry out his work of healing human society. The function of this divine mission, which has from time immemorial been handed down to the ambassadors of Christ, is to "make disciples of all nations" both the things they are to believe as well as the things they are to do since Christ Himself said, "Observe all that I have commanded you" (46 ) . He is "the way, and the truth, and the life," (47 ) coming into the world that man "may have life, and have it more abundantly" (48 ) . The fulfillment of these duties, however, far surpasses man's natural powers. The Church alone possesses together with her magisterium the power of governing and sanctifying human society. Through her ministers and servants (each in his own station and office), she confers on mankind suitable and necessary means of salvation.

True reformers understand this very clearly. They do not kill the blossom in saving the root. That is to say, they do not divorce faith from holiness. They rather cultivate both of them, enkindling them with the fire of charity, "which is the bond of perfection" (49 ) . In obedience to the Apostle, they "keep the deposit" (50 ) . They neither obscure nor dim its light before the nations, but spread far and wide the most saving waters of truth and life welling up from that spring. They combine theory and practice. By the former they are prepared to withstand the "masquerading of error" and by the latter they apply the commandments to moral activity. In such a way they employ all the suitable and necessary means for attaining the end, namely, the wiping out of sin and the perfecting "the saints for a work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" (51 ) . This is the purpose of every kind of instruction, government, and munificence. In a word, this is the ultimate purpose of every discipline and action of the Church. When the true son of the church sets out to reform himself and others, he fixes his eyes and heart on matters of faith and morals. On just such matters Borromeo based his reformation of ecclesiastical discipline. Thus he often referred to them in his writings, as, for example, when he says, "Following the ancient custom of the holy Fathers and sacred Councils, especially the ecumenical Synod of Trent, we have decreed many regulations on these very matters in our preceding provincial Councils" (52 ) . In the same way, when providing for the suppression of public scandals, he declares that he is following "both the law and sacred sanctions of the sacred canons, and especially the decrees of the Council of Trent" (53 ) .

30. However, he did not stop at that. In order to assure as much as possible that he would never depart from this rule, he customarily concluded the statutes of his provincial Synods with the following words: «We are always prepared to submit everything we have done and decreed in this provincial Synod to the authority and judgment of the Roman Church, the Mother and Mistress of all the churches" (54 ) . The more quickly he advanced in the perfection of the active ministry the more firmly was he rooted in this resolve, not only when the Chair of Peter was occupied by his uncle, but also during the Pontificates of his successors, Pius V and Gregory XIII. He wielded his influence in having these latter elected; he was tireless in supporting their great endeavors; and he fulfilled in a perfect manner whatever they expected of him.

31. Moreover, he seconded every one of their acts with the practical means needed to realize the end in view, namely, the real reform of sacred discipline. In this respect also he proved that in no wise he resembled those false reformers who concealed their obstinate disobedience under the cloak of zeal. He began "the judgment...with the household of God" (55 ) . He first of all restored discipline among the clergy by making them conform to certain definite laws. With this same end in view he built seminaries, founded a congregation of priests known as the Oblates, unified both the ancient and modern religious families, and convoked Councils. By these and other provisions he assured and developed the work of reform. Then he immediately set a vigorous hand to the work of reforming the morals of the people. He considered the words spoken to the Prophet as addressed to himself; "Lo, I have set thee this root up and to pull down, and to waste and to destroy, and to build and to plant" (56 ) . Good shepherd that he was, he personally set out on wearisome visitation of the churches of the province. Like the Divine Master "he went about doing good and healing." He spared no efforts in suppressing and uprooting the abuses he met everywhere either because of ignorance or neglect of the laws. He checked the rampant perversion of ideas and corruption of morals by founding schools for the children and colleges for youth. After seeing their early beginnings in Rome, he promoted the Marian societies. He founded orphanages for the fatherless, shelters for girls in danger, widows, mendicants, and men and women made destitute by sickness or old age. He opened institutions to protect the poor against tyrannical masters, usurers, and the enslavement of children. He accomplished all these things by completely ignoring the methods of those who think human society can be restored only by utter destruction, revolution, and noisy slogans. Such persons have forgotten the divine words: "The Lord is not in the earthquake" (57 ) .

32. Here is another difference between true and false reformers which you, Venerable Brethren, have often encountered. The latter "seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ" (58 ) . They listen to the deceitful invitation once addressed to the Divine Master, "Manifest thyself to the world" (59 ) . They repeat the ambitious words, "Let us also get us a name" and in their rashness (which We unfortunately have to deplore in these days)
«some priests fell in battle, while desiring to do manfully, they went out unadvisedly to fight" (60 ) .

33. On the other hand, the true reformer "seeks not his own glory, but the glory of the one who sent him" (61 ) . Like Christ, his Model, "he will not wrangle, nor cry aloud, neither will anyone hear his voice in the streets...He shall not be sad nor troublesome" (62 ) but he shall be "meek and humble of heart" (63 ) . For that reason he will please the Lord and bring forth abundant fruit for salvation.

34. They are distinguished one from the other in yet another way. The false reformer "trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm" (64 ) . The true reformer places his trust in God and seeks His supernatural aid for all his strength and virtue, making his own the Apostle's words: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" (65 ) .

35. Christ lavishly communicates these aids, among which are especially prayer, sacrifice and the Sacraments, which "become...a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting" (66 ) . Since the Church has been endowed with them for the salvation of all men, the faithful man will look for them in her. False reformers, however, despise these means. They make the road crooked and, so wrapped up in reforming that they forget God, they are always trying to make these crystal springs so cloudy or arid that the flock of Christ will be deprived of their waters. In this respect the false reformers of former days are even surpassed by their modern followers. These latter, wearing the mask of religiosity, discredit and despise these means of salvation, especially the two Sacraments which cleanse the penitent soul from sin and feed it with celestial food. Let every faithful pastor, therefore, employ the utmost zeal in seeing that the benefits of such great value be held in the highest esteem. Let them never permit these two works of divine love to grow cold in the hearts of men.

36. Borromeo conducted himself in precisely that way. Thus we read in his writings: "Since the fruit of the Sacraments is so abundantly effective, its value can be explained with no little difficulty. They should, therefore, be treated and received with the greatest preparation, deepest reverence, and external pomp and ceremony" (67 ) . His exhortations (which We have also made in Our decree, Tridentina Synodus (68 ) ) to pastors and preachers concerning the ancient practice of frequent Holy Communion is most worthy of notice. "Pastors and preachers," the holy Bishop writes, «should take every possible opportunity to urge the people to cultivate the practice of frequently receiving Holy Communion. In this they are following the example of the early Church, the recommendations of the most authoritative Fathers, the doctrine of the Roman Catechism (which treats this matter in detail), and, finally the teaching of the Council of Trent. The last mentioned would have the faithful receive Communion in every Mass, not only spiritually but sacramentally" (69 ) . He describes the intention and affection one should have in approaching the Sacred Banquet in the following words: "The people should not only be urged to receive Holy Communion frequently, but also how dangerous and fatal it would be to approach the Sacred Table of Divine Food unworthily" (70 ) . It would seem that our days of wavering faith and coldness need this same fervor in a special way so that frequent reception of Holy Communion will not be accompanied by a decrease in reverence toward this great mystery. On the contrary, by this frequency a man should "prove himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the cup" (71 ) .

37. An abundant stream of grace will flow from these fonts, strengthening and nourishing even natural and human means. By no means will a Christian neglect those useful and comforting things of this life, for these also come from the hands of God, the Author of grace and nature. In seeking and enjoying these material and physical things, however, he will be careful not to make them the end and quasi-beatitude of this life. He will use them rightly and temperately when he subordinates them to the salvation of souls, according to Christ's words: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides" (72 ) .

38. This wise evaluation and use of means is not in the least opposed to the happiness of that inferior ordering of means in civil society. On the contrary, the former promotes the latter's welfare--not, of course, by the foolish prattle of quarrelsome reformers, but by acts and heroic efforts, even to the extent of sacrificing property, power, and life itself. We have many examples of this fortitude during the Church's worst days in the lives of many bishops who, equaling Charles' zeal, put into practice the Divine Master's words: "The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep" (73 ) . Neither vainglory, party spirit, nor private interest is their motive. They are moved to spend themselves for the common good by that charity "which never fails." This flame of love cannot be seen by the eyes of the world. It so enkindled Borromeo, however, that, after endangering his own life in caring for the victims of the plague, he did not rest with merely warding off present evils but began to provide for the dangers the future might have in store. "It is no more than right that a good and loving father will provide for his children's future as well as their present by setting aside the necessities of life for them. In virtue of our duty of paternal love, we are also prudently providing for the faithful of our province by setting aside those aids for the future which the experience of the plague has taught us are most effective" (74 ) .

39. These same loving plans and considerations can be put into practice, Venerable Brethren, in that Catholic Action We have so often recommended. The leaders of the people are called to engage in this very noble apostolate which includes all the works of mercy (75 ) which will be prepared and ready to sacrifice all they have and are for the cause. They must bear envy, contradiction, and even the hatred of many who will repay their labors with ingratitude. They must conduct themselves as "good soldiers of Jesus Christ" (76 ) . They must "run with patience to the fight set before us; looking towards the author and finisher of faith, Jesus Christ" (77 ) . Without a doubt, this is a very difficult contest. Nevertheless, even though a total victory will be slow in coming, it is a contest that serves the welfare of civil society in a most worthy manner.

40. In this work we have the splendid example of Saint Charles. From his example each one of us can find much for imitation and consolation. Even though his outstanding virtue, his marvelous activity, his never failing charity commanded much respect, he was nonetheless subject to that law which reads, "All who want to live piously in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (78 ) . His austere life, his defense of righteousness and honesty, his protection of law and justice only led to his being hated by rulers and tricked by diplomats and, later, distrusted by the nobility, clergy and people until he was eventually so hated by wicked men that they sought his very life. In spite of his mild and gentle disposition he withstood all these attacks with unflinching courage.

41. He yielded no ground on any matter that would endanger faith and morals. He admitted no claim (even if it was made by a powerful monarch who was always a Catholic) that was either contrary to discipline or burdensome to the faithful. He was always mindful of Christ's words: " Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (79 ) . He never forgot the Apostles' declaration: "We must obey God rather than men" (80 ) . Thus he was religion's and society's chief benefactor. In his time civil society was paying the price of almost certain destruction because of its worldly prudence. It was practically shipwrecked in the seditious storms it had stirred up.

42. The Catholics of our days, together with their leaders, the Bishops, will deserve the same praise and gratitude as Charles as long as they are faithful to their duties of good citizenship. They must be as faithful in their loyalty and respect to "wicked rulers" when their commands are just, as they are adamant in resisting their commands when unjust. They must remain as far from the impious rebellion of those who advocate sedition and revolt as they are from the subservience of those who accept as sacred the obviously wicked laws of perverse men. These last mentioned wicked men uproot everything in the name of a deceitful liberty, and then oppress their subjects with the most abject tyranny.

43. This is precisely what is happening today in the sight of the whole world and in the broad light of modern civilization. Especially is this the case in some countries where "the powers of darkness" seem to have made their headquarters. This domineering tyranny has suppressed all the rights of the Church's children. These rulers' hearts have been closed to all feelings of generosity, courtesy, and faith which their ancestors, who gloried in the name of Christians, manifested for so long a time. It is obvious that everything quickly lapses back into the ancient barbarism of license whenever God and the Church are hated. It would be more correct to say that everything falls under that most cruel yoke from which only the family of Christ and the education it introduced has freed us. Borromeo expressed the same thought in the following words: "It is a certain, well- established fact that no other crime so seriously offends God and provokes His greatest wrath as the vice of heresy. Nothing contributes more to the down fall of provinces and kingdoms than this frightful pest" (81 ) . Although the enemies of the Church completely disagree among themselves in thought and action (which is a sure indication of error), they are nevertheless united in their obstinate attacks against truth and justice. Since the Church is the guardian and defender of both these virtues, they close their ranks in a unified attack against her. Of course, they loudly proclaim (as is the custom) their impartiality and firmly maintain they are only promoting the cause of peace. In reality, however, their soft words and avowed intentions are only the traps they are laying, thus adding insult to injury, treason to violence. From this it should be evident that a new kind of warfare is now being waged against Christianity. Without a doubt it is far more dangerous than those former conflicts which crowned Borromeo with such glory.

44. His example and teaching will do much to help us wage a valiant battle on behalf of the noble cause which will save the individual and society, faith, religion, and the inviolability of public order. Our combat, it is true, will be spurred on by bitter necessity. At the same time, however, we will be encouraged by the hope that the omnipotent God will hasten the victory for the sake of those who wage so glorious a contest. This hope increases through the fruitfulness of the work of Saint Charles even down to our own times. His work humbles the proud and strengthens us in the holy resolve to restore all things in Christ.

45. We can now conclude, Venerable Brethren, with the same words with which Our Predecessor, Paul V (whom We already mentioned several times), concluded the letter conferring the highest honors on Charles. "In the meantime," he wrote, "it is only right that we return honor, glory, and benediction to Him Who lives for all ages, for He blessed Our fellow servant with every spiritual gift in order to make him holy and spotless in His sight. The Lord gave him to us as a star shining in the darkness of these sins which are Our affliction. Let us beseech the Divine Goodness both in word and deed to let Charles now assist by his patronage the Church he loved so ardently and aided so greatly by his merits and example, thus making peace for us in the day of wrath, through Christ Our Lord" (82 ) .

46. May the fulfillment of our mutual hope be granted through this prayer. As a token of that fulfillment, Venerable Brethren, from the depth of Our heart We impart to you and the clergy and people committed to your care, the Apostolic Blessing.

47. Given at Saint Peter's, Rome, on May 26, 1910, in the seventh year of Our Pontificate.


1. Cf. Ps 111,7 Pr 10,7.
2. Rm 8,11.
3. Rm 8,28.
4. 1Co 4,16.
5. Cf. "E Supremi ."
6. He 3,1 He 12,2.
7. Cf. Ad diem illum
8. He 11,33.
9. Ep 4,11ff
10. Cf. encyclical "E Supremi Apostolatus ."
11. Paul V, Papal bull of November 15, 1610, "Unigenitus."
12. Ibid.
13. Ep 5,25 ff.
14. Mt 16,18.
15. Mt 28,20.
16. Jn 14,16ff., Jn 14,26 Jn 14,59 Jn 16,7 ff.
17. Sessio III, c. 3.
18. Ph 3,18-19.
19. Is 5,20.
20. 1Co 10,13.
21. 1P 5,3.
22. Paul V, Papal bull "Unigenitus."
23. Gn 8,21.
24. Rm 6,6.
25. Ep 4,23; Rm 12,2.
26. Ph 3,13-14.
27. Ep 4,15-16.
28. Ep 1,10.
29. Mt 13,25.
30. Conc. Prov. I, sub initium.
31. Conc. Prov. V, Pars I.
32. Ibid.
33. Conc. Prov. V, Pars I.
34. Rm 10,17.
35. Conc. Prov. V, Pars I.
36. Os 4,1.
37. Jr 12,11.
38. Conc. Prov. V, Pars I.
39. Cf. Acerbo nimis .
40. Conc. Prov. V, Pars I.
41. 2Co 5,20 2Co 4,2 2Tm 2,15.
42. 1Th 2,13.
43. He 4,12.
44. Jc 2,26.
45. Rm 2,13.
46. Mt 28,18 Mt 28,20.
47. Jn 14,6.
48. Jn 10,10.
49. Col 3,14.
50. 1Tm 4,20.
51. Ep 4,12.
52. Conc. Prov. V, Pars I.
53. Ibid.
54. Conc. Prov. VI, sub finem.
55. 1P 4,17.
56. Jr 1,10.
57. 1R 19,11.
58. Ph 2,21.
59. Jn 7,4.
60. 1M 5,57 1M 5,67.
61. Cf. Jn 7,18.
62. Mt 12,19 Is 42,2 ff.
63. Mt 11,29.
64. Jr 17,5.
65. Ph 4,13.
66. Jn 4,14.
67. Conc. Prov. 1, Pars II.
68. December 20, 1905.
69. Conc. Prov. III, Pars I.
70. Conc. Prov. IV, Pars II.
71 . 1Co 11,28.
72. Mt 6,33 Lc 12,31.
73. Jn 10,11.
74. Conc. Prov. V, Pars II.
75. Cf. Mt 25,34 ff.
76. 2Tm 2,3.
77. He 12,1-2.
78. 2Tm 3,12.
79. Mt 22,21.
80. Ac 5,29.
81. Conc. Prov. V, Pars I.
82. Paul V, Papal bull "Unigenitus".

The Election of the Roman Pontiff

On the Vacancy of the Apostolic See and the Election of the Roman Pontiff

Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI

October 1, 1975.


Since the Roman Pontiff, as successor of St. Peter in the See of Rome, is Vicar of Christ on earth as well as supreme Shepherd and visible head of the universal Church, his election has always been an object of special attention. Careful measures have always been taken to assure a legitimate election and the freedom of those who cast a vote.

Over the centuries the Supreme Pontiffs have regarded it as their prerogative, right and duty to make the provisions they think best for the election of their successor. They have resisted all views that ecclesiastical practice should be changed and that the Popes should lose the right to determine, entirely on their own, the composition of the electoral college and the manner in which the college carries out its task. At the same time, however, although the manner of election retains important primitive elements that at one time were characteristic of the election of bishops, it has nonetheless gradually undergone changes as a result of the constant concern already mentioned, that is, the concern to prevent illegitimate interference and to safeguard a proper procedure.

Through this process of gradual change, the most important role in the election of the Pope has been assigned to the three major orders of the Roman clergy - bishops, priests and deacons - who are called the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Their primary role in the election of the Roman Pontiff was set forth in the well-known decree In nomine Domini which Nicholas II promulgated at the Roman synod of 1059. (1 ) At the Third Lateran Council (1179) Alexander III published the Constitution Licet de evitanda which definitely established that the election is the prerogative solely of the College of Cardinals who represent the Roman Church and that all other participants are to be excluded. (2 ) All later provisions have had as their sole purpose to assure the effectiveness of this original manner of electing the Roman Pontiff or to adapt it to new circumstances.

The tradition of the Roman Church makes it likewise clear that the college to which is entrusted the duty of electing the Pontiff is permanent and so constituted that if the Apostolic See happens to be vacant, the college can continue to act. It cannot be denied that a previously established body of electors is still required and that this body should not have so many members that it cannot easily and quickly be assembled (as becomes necessary at times in periods of difficulty for the Church and the Supreme Pontificate). It is not permissible, therefore, that the electors of the pope should themselves be elected or deputed only when the Apostolic See has become vacant.

Guided by these various considerations, Our recent predecessors have preserved this ancient manner of election in all its important fundamental aspects and have safeguarded its exercise. At the same time, however, they have striven to improve it by adapting it to new conditions. This is what Pius XII did, for example, when he added a number of Fathers to the College of Cardinals so that it might be more representative of the various nations and Churches of the Catholic world. John XXIII had the same end in view when he increased the number of members in the College and decreed that they should all receive the rank of bishop. (3 ) We Ourselves have already acted in this area by publishing norms for the Sacred College of Cardinals, especially the norms contained in the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Ingravescentem aetatem. (4 ) We now judge it necessary to revise some points relating to the election of a Pontiff, so that they may be appropriate in the present situation and truly contribute to the good of the Church. We also reassert, however, the principle that, in accordance with long-standing tradition, the election of the Roman Pontiff is the prerogative of the Church of Rome as represented by the Sacred College of Cardinals.

Therefore, following the example of Our predecessors, on the basis of such knowledge and careful reflection, and in an exercise of the fullness of apostolic authority, We have determined to publish the norms contained in this constitution. This constitution replaces the constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis of Pius XII (December 8, 1945) (5 ) and the prescriptions which John XXIII promulgated in his Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Summi Pontificis Electi (September 5, 1962). (6 )


Chapter 1

The Power of the Sacred College of Cardinals

When the Apostolic See Is Vacant The College governs the Church

1. While the Apostolic See is vacant, the government of the Church is in the hands of the Sacred College of Cardinals but only for ordinary business and other matters that cannot be postponed and for the preparations required for the election of a new Pontiff. In making such preparations, the College is bound by the provisions of this constitution and by the limitations it imposes.

2. During the period in question, therefore, the Sacred College has no authority or jurisdiction in questions that were reserved to the Supreme Pontiff while he was alive; decisions in all such matters must be left solely to the future Pontiff. We therefore proclaim invalid and void any exercise by the college of authority or jurisdiction which belongs to the Pope when he is alive, except to the extent that such an exercise is explicitly permitted by this constitution.

3. We also decree that the Sacred College of Cardinals may not in any way dispose of any rights of the Apostolic See and the Church of Rome nor derogate from them directly or indirectly, even when it is a question of resolving disputes or prosecuting actions contrary to these rights after the death of the pope. All must be concerned to protect these rights.

4. Neither is it legitimate, while the Apostolic See is vacant, to amend the laws made by the Roman Pontiffs or to add anything to them or to dispense from sections of them, especially sections having to do with arrangements for the election of the Supreme Pontiff. By Our supreme authority We now declare null and void anything done or attempted contrary to this decree.

Resolution of doubts

5. If doubts arise about the meaning of prescriptions in this constitution or about the way they are to be implemented, We declare and decree that on these points the Sacred College of Cardinals has the power to decide. Therefore, We grant the Sacred College of Cardinals the authority to interpret doubtful or disputed passages. In this regard, We decree that if decisions must be made on these or similar points (except on the act of election itself), it is enough if the majority of the assembled cardinals is of the same opinion.

6. Similarly, if some matter must be expedited which according to the majority of the assembled cardinals cannot be postponed, the Sacred College of Cardinals is to act in accordance with the majority view.

Chapter 2

Meetings of the Cardinals

Two types of meetings

7. While the See is vacant and before the entry into the conclave, two types of meetings of the cardinals, and the cardinals alone, are to be held One is a general meeting of the whole college; the other, a special meeting. All cardinals not legitimately prevented are to attend the general meetings as soon as they have been informed that the apostolic see is vacant. Cardinals who have completed their 80th year are free to attend or not attend.

The special meeting is attended by the Cardinal Camerlengo [Chamberlain] of the Holy Roman Church and three other cardinals, one from each order, who are chosen by lot from among all who, in accordance with no. 33 of this constitution, have the right to cast a vote in electing the Pontiff. The office of these three cardinals, called assistants, is terminated on the third day after the beginning of the conclave. They are replaced then, and every third day thereafter, by three others, also chosen by lot. During the conclave, more serious matters, should they arise, are settled at the general meeting of the cardinal electors. Ordinary business continues to be handled at the special meetings. During the general and special meetings, while the see is vacant, the cardinals wear the customary black cassock with red piping and red sash.

The special meetings

8. During the special meetings, only business of lesser moment is to be dispatched, such as occurs daily or constantly. If anything arises of a more serious nature or requiring more thorough examination, it is to be presented to the general meeting. In addition, if a decision, solution or refusal of a request is reached during one special meeting, it cannot be withdrawn, amended or granted in another. The right to take a changed position rests solely with the general meeting. At the latter a change can be made only by a plurality or majority of votes.

9. General meetings of the Cardinals are to take place in the Apostolic Vatican Palace or, if circumstances require, in some place the Cardinals themselves judge more suitable. The dean of the sacred college presides at these meetings or, in his absence, the subdean. If, however, one or other or both of these Cardinals is not to enter the conclave because he has completed his 80th year, the cardinal who ranks highest in the general order of precedence is to preside over any general meeting of the Cardinals that may take place within the conclave (in accordance with no. 7).

Secret ballot on important business 10. When business of greater moment is being handled, the votes at the meetings of the cardinals are to be taken by a secret ballot rather than by voice.

11. The general meetings that precede the conclave and are therefore called preparatory are to be held daily, from the day determined by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church together with the three senior cardinals of each order; the meetings are to be held even on the days when the rites for the dead pontiff are being celebrated. The reason for the meetings is twofold: to allow the Cardinal Camerlengo to inquire into the views of the Sacred College, as he communicates to it matters he thinks necessary or timely, and to afford each Cardinal the opportunity to make known his views on current business, to seek an explanation of doubtful points and to propose subjects for discussion.

Oath on observing Part I of this constitution

12. At the first general meeting Part I of this constitution, "On the Vacancy of the Apostolic See," is to be read. After the reading, all the cardinals present are to take an oath to observe its prescriptions and to maintain secrecy. The oath is also to be taken by cardinals who arrive later on and are in attendance at subsequent meetings. The formula of the oath which is to be read by the Cardinal Dean in the presence of the other cardinals, is as follows: «We, the Cardinal Bishops, Priests and Deacons of the Holy Roman Church, promise and swear on oath that we will, each and all of us, observe exactly all that is set down in the Apostolic Constitution The Election of the Roman Pontiff of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, and that we will maintain a scrupulous secrecy concerning everything discussed in the meetings of the cardinals whether before or during the conclave, and concerning everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff."

Then each Cardinal is to say: "And I, ... Cardinal . . ., solemnly promise and swear on oath." Laying his hand on the Gospel, each is to add: "So help me God and these holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hand."

Preparations for the conclave

13. At one of the meetings and at those immediately subsequent to it, the Cardinals, following a prescribed agenda, are to reach decisions on matters of greater urgency as regards beginning the conclave; namely: a) They are to decide on the day, hour, and manner in which the body of the dead pontiff is to be carried to the Vatican Basilica and exposed for the homage of the faithful; b) They are to see to all necessary preparations for the funeral rites of the dead pontiff, which shall last for nine successive days, and they are to determine when the rites are to begin; c) They are to appoint two committees or commissions, with three Cardinals on each. One of these commissions shall designate those who are to enter the conclave and perform various services, as well as the person who is to be in charge of these individuals. It is also to consider carefully whether any conclavist or private servant is to be admitted to the conclave, in accordance with no. 45 of this constitution. The other commission is to oversee the building and enclosing of the conclave, and the arrangement of the cells, or private rooms, in it;

d) They are to estimate and approve the expenses of the conclave;

e) They are to read the documents left for the Sacred College of Cardinals by the dead pontiff, if there be am such documents;

f) They are to see to the breaking of the Fisherman's Ring and the lead seal under which apostolic letters are sent;

g) Cells in the conclave are to be assigned to the electors by lot, unless the poor health of an elector makes some other arrangement advisable;

h) They are to set the day and the hour for entering the conclave.

Chapter 3

Various Offices during the Vacancy of the Apostolic See

Resignation of offices; exceptions to this rule

14. In accordance with the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, all Cardinals who are prefects of the agencies of the Roman Curia, including the Cardinal Secretary of State, are to resign their offices at the death of the pontiff. Exceptions are the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, the Major Penitentiary and the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome; these are to handle ordinary business and bring before the Sacred College of Cardinals matters requiring referral to the Supreme Pontiff. (7 )

15. If the office of Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church or that of Major Penitentiary should happen to be vacant when the pope dies or should fall vacant before his successor is elected, the Sacred College of Cardinals should, as soon as possible, elect a cardinal (or cardinals) to fill the office (offices) until the election of a new pontiff. In each of these cases, the election is to be by secret vote of all the Cardinals present. Votes are to be cast by means of ballots which are distributed and collected by the masters of ceremonies who shall open them in the presence of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church and the three cardinal assistants, if the vote is for Major Penitentiary, or in the presence of the three cardinal assistants and the secretary of the sacred college, if the vote is for Camerlengo. The individual who receives the majority of votes is elected and automatically receives all faculties for the office. If the votes should be equal in number for two individuals, he is elected who belongs to the higher order, or who, if both are of the same order, was admitted earlier into the sacred college. Until a Camerlengo is elected, his duties are to be performed by the dean of the sacred college, who has power to make decisions without delay, as circumstances require.

Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome

16. If the vicar general of the Diocese of Rome should die while the see is vacant, the assistant vicar then in office has all the faculties, authority and powers which the vicar himself had been given for his office, and which the pope himself customarily gives the assistant vicar when there is no vicar and until he appoints a new vicar. If there is no assistant vicar or if he is prevented, the auxiliary bishop appointed the longest is to take over the duties.

17. While the see is vacant, it shall be the duty of the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church to rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three cardinal assistants. He is to obtain the approval of the sacred college once and for all for matters of lesser moment but in each case for business of greater moment. It is therefore, the duty of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, as soon as he has received word of the pontiff's death from the prefect of the pontifical household, to verify the pope's death legally, in the presence of the pontifical master of ceremonies, the clerical prelates of the reverend apostolic chamber, and the secretary-chancellor of the same. The latter shall draw up an authentic record of the death. The Camerlengo is then to seal up the private apartments of the pontiff; to announce the pope's death to the cardinal vicar of the city, who will in turn make a special announcement of it to the people of Rome; to go to the Apostolic Vatican Palace and take possession of it, either in person or through a delegate, as well as ore of the palaces at the Lateran and at Castelgandolfo, and to see to the protection and administration of these premises; with the advice of the cardinals present from the three orders, to determine everything relating to the pope's burial, unless the pope himself during his lifetime indicated his own wishes in the matter; and, in the name and with the consent of the sacred college, to see to whatever the circumstances of the moment suggest with regard to protecting the rights of the Apostolic See and properly administering its business.

The Major Penitentiary

18. While the see is vacant, the Major Penitentiary and his officials have the power to do and expedite what Our predecessor Pius XI laid down in his Apostolic Constitution Quae divinitus of March 25, 1935. (8 )

19 As soon as the dean of the sacred college learns of the pope's death from the prefect of the pontifical household, he is to relay the news to all the cardinals and summon them to attend the meetings of the sacred college and, if they enjoy the right, to take part in the conclave at the proper time. He shall also communicate the news of the pope's death to the ambassadors or representatives of the various nations to the Apostolic See, as well as to the highest authorities in their countries.

20. As is provided in the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae the substitute secretary of state (substitute papal secretary) is to continue the duties of his office while the see is vacant; he is responsible the Sacred College of Cardinals. (9 )

Papal legates

21. The office and powers of the papal legates likewise continue while the see is vacant.

22. The almoner of His Holiness also continues his works of charity, in the manner in which he was accustomed while the pontiff was alive. He is subordinate, however, to the Sacred College of Cardinals and dependent on them from the time of the pope's death to the election of a new pontiff. It is the duty of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church to issue any instructions in this area.

23. While the apostolic see is vacant, the civil power of the Supreme Pontiff in the government of Vatican City passes in its entirety to the Sacred College of Cardinals. The college cannot issue decrees, however, except in cases of urgent need, and then only for the period of the see's vacancy. These decrees will be valid thereafter only if the new pontiff confirms them.

Chapter 4

The Faculties of the Sacred Congregations and Tribunals of the Roman Curia, While the Apostolic See Is Vacant

No extraordinary faculties

24. While the apostolic see is vacant, the sacred congregations have no power in matters in which they cannot act and do business, while the see is occupied, except "after having spoken with His Holiness" or «as a result of an audience with His Holiness" or "in virtue of special and extraordinary faculties" which the Roman Pontiff customarily grants to the prefects of these congregations.

25. The ordinary faculties granted to each congregation do not cease at the pope's death. We decree, however, that the congregations are to use these faculties only to grant favors of lesser moment, while reserving for the future pontiff matters of greater importance or matters in dispute, provided a decision on these can be postponed. If a decision cannot be postponed, the Sacred College of Cardinals can entrust it to the cardinal who was prefect up to the pope's death, (10 ) and to the other cardinals, of the agency to which the Supreme Pontiff would probably have committed the matter for examination. In these circumstances, and until a pontiff is elected, the cardinals in question can make the provisional decision which they judge best suited to guarding and protecting the rights and traditions of the Church.

The Apostolic Signatura and the Sacred Roman Rota

26. While the see is vacant, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and the Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota are to carry on their business according to their own regulations, while observing the prescriptions of CIS 244.1 and CIS 1603.

Chapter 5

The Funeral Rites for the Roman Pontiff

Norms to be followed

27. When the Roman Pontiff dies, the cardinals are to celebrate the rites for his soul on nine successive days, according to the Order of Funeral Rites for a Deceased Roman Pontiff, which, like the Order of Sacred Rites for a Conclave, is to be made an appendix to this constitution.

28. If interment is to be in the Vatican Basilica, an authentic record of it is to be drawn up by the notary of the Chapter of the Basilica. Afterward. a delegate of the Cardinal Camerlengo and a delegate of the prefect of the pontifical household will separately sign the documents which attest to the interment. The former delegate shall sign in the presence of the reverend apostolic chamber, the latter in the presence of the prefect of the pontifical household.

Death outside Rome

29. If the Roman Pontiff dies outside the city, the Sacred College of Cardinals shall take all the measures necessary to assure that the corpse is transferred in a worthy and fitting manner to the Vatican Basilica.

30. No one may photograph a dying or dead Supreme Pontiff in his apartments or record his words for later transmission. If, when the pope has died, anyone wants to take a picture for probative testimony, he must request permission of the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church; the latter is not to allow such a picture of the Supreme Pontiff to be taken unless the body is clad in pontifical vestments.

31. No part of the Supreme Pontiff's apartments is to be used as living quarters before or during the conclave.

32. If the deceased Supreme Pontiff has made a will concerning his possessions and his private letters and documents and has appointed an executor, the latter, in accordance with the powers assigned him by the testator, is to decide upon and carry out what should be done with these private possessions and writings. The executor shall render an account of his office only to the new Supreme Pontiff.



Chapter 1

The Electors of the Roman Pontiff

The cardinals alone elect

33. The right to elect the Roman Pontiff belongs exclusively to the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, except for those of them who, in accordance with the norm previously established, (11 ) shall have completed their 80th year when the time comes for entering into the conclave; the number of cardinal electors shall not, however, exceed
120. Excluded from among the electors, therefore, is any person of any other ecclesiastical rank and any layperson of whatever rank and order.

34. If it should happen that the Roman Pontiff dies during the celebration of a general council or a synod of bishops, whether at Rome or anywhere else in the world, the election of the new pontiff is to be carried out solely and exclusively by the cardinal electors just mentioned, and not by the council of the synod of bishops. We, therefore, declare null and void any acts which rashly presume to change either the manner of election or the college of electors. Moreover, the general council or the synod of bishops, no matter what point it may have reached, is to be understood as automatically suspended immediately upon sure notice that the pope has died. Without any delay, the council or synod is to suspend all meetings, congregations and sessions and to cease drawing up or preparing any decrees or canons, under pain of their nullity. Nor may the council or synod proceed further, for any reason whatsoever, no matter how serious and deserving of special consideration, until a canonically elected new pope bids the council or synod take up and continue its work.

No cardinal excluded

35. No cardinal elector may be excluded from active and passive participation in the election of the Supreme Pontiff because of or on pretext of any excommunication, suspension, interdict or other ecclesiastical impediment. Any such censures are to be regarded as suspended as far as the effect of the election is concerned.

36. A cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, once he is appointed in a consistory and his name is published, automatically has the right to vote for a pontiff, even though he has not yet received his biretta and has not been sent his cardinal's ring and has not yet taken the customary oath of fidelity. However, cardinals who have been canonically deposed or who have, with the consent of the Roman Pontiff, renounced the cardinalatial dignity do not have the right to vote; nor while the see is vacant may the Sacred College of Cardinals readmit such cardinals and restore this right to them.

Waiting for cardinals to arrive

37. We also prescribe that after the death of the pontiff the cardinals present are to wait 15 full days for the absent cardinals. Permission is granted the Sacred College of Cardinals to delay the beginning of the conclave for a few more days; however, once 20 days at most have passed, the cardinal electors present are to enter the conclave and proceed to the business of the election.

38. If other cardinal electors arrive before the matter has been expedited, that is, before the Church has been given a new pastor, they are to be admitted to the electoral process at the point it has already reached.

39. All the cardinal electors, when summoned to the election of a new pontiff by the dean or by some other cardinal acting in his name, are obliged in virtue of holy obedience to obey the summons and go to the place appointed for the election, unless they are prevented by ill health or some other serious obstacle. The impediment must, however, be acknowledged by the Sacred College of Cardinals.

Entering and leaving the conclave

40. If a cardinal with the right to vote refuses to enter the conclave or, having entered it, leaves it except for reason of manifest ill health (a reason which must be supported by the sworn testimony of the doctors and accepted by the majority of the electors), there is to be no waiting for him nor is he to be admitted again to the election but the others are to proceed freely to the election of a Supreme Pontiff. If a cardinal elector is forced to leave the conclave because of illness, the others are to proceed to the election without asking for his vote; if he wishes to return to the conclave after recovering his health or even before, he is to be readmitted. If a cardinal leaves the conclave for some other serious reason which is approved by the majority of the electors, he can return to it while the election is still going on.

Chapter 2

The Conclave and Those Who Participate In it

Necessity of a "conclave"

41. The election of the Supreme Pontiff is to be held in the conclave, once the latter has been closed off this conclave being established either in the Vatican Palace, as is customary, or elsewhere for some special reason. However, this is not to be considered a condition for the validity of the election, as prescribed by Gregory XV or any other pontifical decree.

42. "Conclave" means the carefully determined place, a kind of sacred retreat, where, after asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten them, the cardinal electors choose the Supreme Pontiff, and where the cardinals and other officials and staff, together with the conclavists, if there be any, remain day and night until the election is complete, and do not communicate with persons and things outside, in accordance with the following modalities and norms.

43. In addition to the cardinal electors, the following enter the conclave: the secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals, who acts as secretary of the conclave; the vicar general of the Roman Pontiff for Vatican City, along with one or more assistants for the sacristy; the master of pontifical ceremonies and the papal masters of ceremonies for the duties proper to them. It is also licit for the cardinal dean or the cardinal who replaces him to bring an ecclesiastic as his assistant.

44. Also to be present are to be some priests from the religious orders, so that there may be a sufficient number of confessors in the various languages; two doctors, one of them a surgeon, the other a general practitioner, and one or two male nurses; the architect of the conclave with two experts in technological matters (cf. nos. 55 and 61). All of these are to be nominated by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church and his cardinal assistants, and approved by a majority of the cardinals. To these are to be added others in suitable numbers who will minister to the needs of the conclave; they are appointed by the committee for commission of cardinals established for the purpose (cf. no. 13c).

45. The cardinal electors may not bring with them conclavists, or private servants, clerical or lay. This can be permitted only by way of exception in the special case of serious ill health. The cardinal in question shall submit an express request, with his reasons, to the Cardinal Camerlengo who in turn will propose it to the committee or commission of cardinals appointed for the purpose. The latter are to decide and, if they think the request should be granted, they are to investigate very carefully the character of the person admitted as a servant.

46. All the officials and staff, clerical or lay, of the conclave, as well as all the conclavists, if there are any, are to take an oath, in Latin or some other language; it is to be administered by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, once he has made sure that each of them clearly understands the importance of the oath and the meaning of the formula. One or two days before entering into the conclave, in the presence of the secretary of the conclave and the master of pontifical ceremonies, who have been delegated for the purpose by the Camerlengo (in whose presence they themselves had earlier taken the oath (11 ) a), the officials and others are to pronounce the following formula in the national language suitable for them: «I, . . ., promise and swear that I will preserve an inviolate secrecy concerning each and every action taken and decree passed in the meetings of the cardinals with regard to the election of the new pontiff, and concerning everything done in the conclave or place of election that directly or indirectly has to do with the balloting, and concerning everything that I shall in any way come to know. Neither directly nor indirectly, by gesture or word or writing or in any other way, shall I violate this secrecy. I also promise and swear that in the conclave I shall not use any kind of transmitter or receiver or any photographic equipmentùthis under pain of automatic excommunication reserved in a very special way to the Apostolic See, if I violate this precept. I shall preserve this secrecy with scrupulous care even after the election of the new pontiff, unless he grants me special permission and explicit authorization.

"I likewise promise and swear that I shall in no way aid in or favor any interference, protest or other action by which civil authorities of any order or rank or any groups of persons or any individuals try to take a hand in the election of the pontiff.

"So help me God and these holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hand."

47. Lay officials and other lay staff members who leave the conclave are not permitted to return. They may leave only for reason of evident and notable ill health that is attested on oath by the doctors and with the consent of the Cardinal Camerlengo and the three cardinal assistants w ho must be acting in good conscience in this matter. If the need arises, substitutes may enter to take the place of those who leave on account of illness. These substitutes must be legitimately approved and accepted and must already have taken the oath.

48. If a cardinal elector who has brought a conclavist with him should die in the conclave, the conclavist is to leave immediately and may not be taken into the service of any other cardinal elector in the same conclave.

Chapter 3

Entry into the Conclave

Initial rites; oath of the electors

49. When the funeral rites for the deceased pontiff have been duly carried out and the conclave has meanwhile been prepared, the cardinal electors gather on the appointed day in the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter or elsewhere as the circumstances of time and place dictate. Here the ceremonies take place that are appointed in the Order of Sacred Rites for a Conclave.

Immediately after morning Mass, or in the afternoon of that day if it seems preferable, the electors enter the conclave. When they reach the chapel, a suitable prayer is recited, and the "Let all (but the electors) depart" is proclaimed. Then part II of this constitution, «On the Election of the Roman Pontiff," is to be read, after which the cardinal electors take an oath according to the following formula which the dean or the cardinal who is senior in rank and age is to recite in a loud voice: «Each and all of us, the cardinal electors present in this conclave, promise and swear on oath that we will observe faithfully and to the letter all the prescriptions contained in the Apostolic Constitution The Election of the Roman Pontiff of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, dated October 1, 1975. We also promise and swear on oath that whoever of us in God's providence is elected Roman Pontiff will fully and zealously assert and defend the spiritual and temporal rights and freedom of the Holy See, and, if need arises, will lay unyielding claim to them. Above all, we promise and swear on oath that all of us, and even our conclavists if there be any, will preserve a scrupulous secrecy regarding everything that relates in any way to the election of the Roman Pontiff and everything that goes on in the conclave and relates directly or indirectly to the voting. Moreover, we will never in any way break that secrecy whether during the conclave or after the election of the new pontiff, unless that same pontiff gives us special permission and explicit authorization. In addition, we will under no conditions accept from any civil power, under any pretext, a commission to propose a veto or "exclusion," even in the form of a simple wish; nor will we manifest such a desired veto, should we in any way come to know of one, or give aid or favor to any interference, protest or other form of intervention, by which secular authorities of any order or rank or any groups of persons or any individuals try to take a hand in the election of the pontiff."

Then each cardinal elector is to say: "And I, ... Cardinal . . ., promise and swear on oath"; whereupon he is to place his hand on the Gospel and add: "So help me God and these holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hand."

Afterward, the Cardinal Dean or the Cardinal senior in rank and age shall exhort those present, in a brief and suitable discourse, to take up the business of the election in the proper way and with a right intention, looking solely to the good of the universal Church.

The oath taken by others present

50. When all this has been done, the prefect of the pontifical household, the special delegate of the pontifical commission for Vatican City, and the prefect of the Papal Swiss Guards, to whom this constitution assigns the duty of protecting the conclave, are to take their oath, according to the prescribed formula, (11 ) b in the presence of the cardinal dean or the first-ranking cardinal and all the cardinal electors. The oath is also to be taken by the clerical prelates of the Reverend Apostolic Chamber, the participant protonotaries apostolic, and the auditors of the Sacred Roman Rota, all of whom are charged to maintain a watchful guard over everything that is brought into the conclave or taken from it. They are assisted by the papal masters of ceremonies.

51. All the cardinal electors now go to the cells assigned them, except for the Cardinal Camerlengo and the three cardinal assistants, who remain in the chapel and proceed to the closing off of the conclave. Meanwhile, the officials of the conclave and the other staff members take the above mentioned oath as soon as possible (if they have not already done so), in the presence of the secretary of the conclave and the master of pontifical ceremonies, who are delegated for this purpose by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.

Search of the premises

52. Finally, after a suitable signal has been given at the order of the cardinal dean or the first-ranking cardinal, the Camerlengo and the three cardinal assistants, together with the master of pontifical ceremonies and the other masters of ceremonies, the architect of the conclave and the two technicians, shall carefully search the premises to see that no one barred from the conclave is still there. For the same reason, they shall go over the list of the staff for the conclave, including any conclavists who may be serving the cardinal electors, lest an outsider have made his way among them; in order to conduct this check, all are bidden to enter the chapel where each answers to his name.

53. After a careful examination, the conclave is locked from the outside and the inside by the prefect of the pontifical household, the special delegate of the pontifical commission for Vatican City, and the prefect of the Papal Swiss Guards, in the presence of the dean of the clerical prelates of the Reverend Apostolic Chamber, as well as of the secretary-chancellor of the latter (who is deputed for the purpose by Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church) and the masters of ceremonies and the architects. The keys are entrusted to the special delegate of the pontifical commission for Vatican City.

Records of the looking of the conclave

54. Separate records are made of the exterior and interior lockings. One is drawn up by the master of pontifical ceremonies and signed by the secretary of the conclave and the master of pontifical ceremonies him self (acting as notary), with two masters of ceremonies as witnesses. The other record is drawn up by one of the clerical prelates of the Reverend Apostolic Chamber, who is deputed for this by the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church; this is done in the office of the special delegate of the pontifical commission for Vatican City, and signed by the prefect of the pontifical household, the special delegate himself, and the prefect of the Papal Swiss Guards.

Chapter 4

The Observance of Secrecy Concerning All That Happens In the Conclave

Guarding of the premises

55. The Cardinal Camerlengo and the three cardinals who are his assistants at any given time are bound to keep careful watch and to visit the entire premises frequently, in person or through delegates, in order to see that the conclave enclosure is in no way breached. At these visitations, the two technicians are always to be present and, if necessary, to use the apt means our age provides for detecting the possible presence of the instruments mentioned below in no. 61. If any such instruments be found, those responsible for them are to be expelled from the conclave and be subject to serious penalties as the future pontiff shall judge fit.

56. Once the conclave is locked, no one is to be admitted to speak to the cardinal electors or others in the conclave, except in the presence of the prelates charged with guarding the conclave and they may only speak aloud so that others can understand what they say. If any one should enter the conclave by stealth, he is automatically deprived of every ecclesiastical honor, rank, office and benefice and, according to who he is, subjected to other suitable punishments.

Communication by letter and in other ways

57. We also decree that no letters or writings of any kind, even printed, are to be sent either to those in the conclave, including the cardinal electors, or especially from the conclave to persons outside, unless they have in each and every case been carefully examined by the secretary of the conclave and the prelate assigned to guard the conclave. The only exception to this rule is the correspondence between the Tribunal of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary and the Cardinal Major Penitentiary who is in the conclave; such correspondence is to be free and unhindered, and the letters, bearing the seal of office, are not subject to examination and inspection.

We also explicitly forbid the sending of newspapers and periodicals into or out of the conclave.

58. The staff of the conclave must also carefully avoid anything that would in any way, directly or indirectly, by word, writing, sign or in any other manner, violate secrecyù this, under pain of automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

59. In particular, We forbid the cardinal electors to make known to servants they may have with them or to anyone else anything that directly or indirectly relates to the voting or that is done or decreed with regard to the election of the pontiff in the meetings of the cardinals either before or during the conclave.

Secrecy of electors after the conclave

60. In addition, We order the cardinal electors, under serious obligation in conscience, to observe this secrecy even after the election of the new pontiff. They must remember that they may in no way break the secrecy unless the new pontiff gives special and explicit permission to do so. We extend this prohibition to all who are present in the conclave, should any of them, innocently or otherwise, gain knowledge of what has been done in the conclave.

61. Finally, in order to protect the cardinal electors against the indiscretion of others and against insidious attempts to limit their independence of judgment and freedom of decision, We entirely forbid the introduction into the conclave, under any pretext, or the use, should these already be there, of any equipment for recording, playing back or transmitting voices or pictures.

Chapter 5

The Method of Election

Three methods of election

62. On the morning of the day after the conclave has been locked, the cardinal electors who are not prevented by ill health shall, at a signal, assemble in the appointed chapel and concelebrate, or be present at, the Eucharistic sacrifice. When Mass is over and the Holy Spirit has been invoked, they shall immediately proceed to the election. The election must be conducted according to one or other of the three methods or forms described below, otherwise the election is null and void, except as provided for in no 76.

Method of acclamation

63. The first method can be called the method of acclamation or inspiration; it is used when the cardinal electors, as though inspired by the Holy Spirit, freely and spontaneously pro claim one man Supreme Pontiff. ac claiming him unanimously. This method can be used only in the closed conclave and must involve the use of the word eligo (I choose), pronounced intelligibly or written if the elector is unable to use his voice. A further requirement is that the method be accepted by each and every cardinal elector present, including those who may have remained in their cells because of ill health. There can be no dissenting voice and care must be taken to see that no special negotiations are carried on with regard to the name of the person to be elected.

Consequently, if, for example, one of the cardinal electors, speaking spontaneously and without any special negotiations having taken place. should say, "Father Eminences, in view of the singular virtue and probity of the Very Reverend . . ., I judge him worthy of being elected Roman Pontiff, and I myself vote for him as pope"; and if, then, the other Fathers without exception accept the view of the first and unanimously vote for the same man, using the verb eligo and pronouncing it intelligibly or, if need be, writing it down: then the man is canonically elected by this method.

Method of compromise

64. The second method is called the method of compromise and is used when in special circumstances the cardinal electors give some of their number authority to act in the name of all and elect a pastor for the Catholic Church. In this case, too, each and every cardinal elector present in the closed conclave, without any dissenting voice, must agree to the concession of authority and put the election into the hands of a limited number of the fathers. This group must have an uneven number of members, at least nine and at most 15. The cardinal electors are to sign some such formula as this: "In the name of the Lord. Amen. On the ... day of the ... month of the year . . ., we, the cardinal electors present at the conclave [a complete list of names follows], have determined and now determine, with no dissenting voice, to proceed to an election using the method of compromise. Therefore, in full and unanimous agreement, with no one dissenting, we choose as our representatives the Most Eminent Fathers, . . ., and give them full power and authority to provide a pastor for the Holy Roman Church. They are to act in the following manner ..." Here the cardinal electors who are handing over the authority shall clearly set down the method and form their representatives are to use in electing a pontiff. The cardinal electors must determine what they require for the election to be valid, for example, whether the representatives must first propose the person of their choice to the whole college, or may simply proceed to elect him without further ado whether all the representatives must agree on the same person or a two-thirds majority is enough; whether they must choose someone from the electoral college or may choose someone from outside it; and so on. Also to be included in the instructions is the length of time for which the cardinal electors wish their representatives to have the power of electing. Finally, they must add words to this effect: "And we promise that we will accept as Roman Pontiff the person whom our representatives shall think worthy of being elected according to the above-described method."

Once the representatives have accepted their mandate and the prescriptions governing its exercise, they are to assemble in a separate closed place. In order that they may talk more freely among themselves, they are to make it clear that they do not intend to give their consent by a verbal formula alone but must also put it in writing. When the representatives have finally carried out the election according to the form prescribed for them and have made their choice known in the conclave, the person thus elected is the true canonical pope.

Method of balloting

65. The third and ordinary method or form for electing a Roman Pontiff is by casting ballots. Here We fully confirm the rule determined long ago and subsequently observed with scrupulous care, that a two-thirds majority is required for the valid election of a Roman Pontiff. We also wish to keep in force the norm established by Our predecessor Pius XII, that the majority must always be two-thirds plus one. (12 )

66. Balloting involves three stages. The first, or prescrutinial, stage includes: (1 ) the preparation and distribution of ballots; this is done by the masters of ceremonies who are to give at least two or three ballots to each cardinal elector; (2 ) the choice by lot (with all the cardinal electors participating) of three examiners (scrutatores), three deputies to take care of the votes cast by the sick (infirmarii), and three controllers (recognitores); the lots are to be drawn by the lowest-ranking cardinal deacon who shall pull in order the names of the nine who are to be assigned these various duties; (3 ) the writing of the ballots, which is to be done secretly by each cardinal elector; he shall write down the name of his choice, making his handwriting unrecognizable as far as possible; he must not write more than one name on a ballot or his vote is nullified; (4 ) the folding of the ballot in half, so that it is reduced in width to about an inch.

Norms for the first stage

67. In dispatching this first stage of the balloting process, the following norms are to be observed. a) The ballot should be rectangular in shape, longer than it is wide; at the upper center should appear the words (printed, if possible): Eligo in Summum Pontificem (I choose as Supreme Pontiff), with room below for writing a name; thus, the ballot is so arranged that it can be folded in two (b) If, in choosing the examiners, deputies for the sick and controllers. the names of cardinal electors are drawn who for reason of sickness or some other impediment cannot carry out the duties, the names of others not so prevented must be drawn. The first three names drawn are the examiners, the next three the deputies for the sick and the final three the controllers. (c) While votes are being cast, the cardinal electors must be alone in the chapel; therefore, immediately after the ballots have been distributed and before the electors begin to write on them, the secretary of the conclave, the master of pontifical ceremonies, and the masters of ceremonies are to leave. When they have left, the lowest-ranking cardinal deacon is to close the door; he is to open and close it as often as is necessary, for example when the deputies for the sick leave to collect the ballots of the sick and when they return to the chapel.

The second stage

68. The second stage is that of the balloting proper. It comprises (1 ) the placing of the ballots in an urn, (2 ) the mixing and counting of the ballots and (3 ) the announcement of the vote. After writing and folding his ballot, each Cardinal elector, in order of precedence, shall raise his hand so that he may be seen and take his ballot to the altar where the examiners are stationed and on which stands an urn, covered with a dish, ready to receive the ballots. At the altar the cardinal elector is to kneel, pray for a moment, rise and in a loud voice swear: "I call Christ the Lord, my judge, to witness that I am voting for the one whom, in the Lord, I think should be elected." Then he puts the ballot on the plate and slides it into the urn; whereupon he bows to the altar and returns to his place.

If a cardinal elector present in the chapel is hindered by weakness from going to the altar, the last-chosen examiner goes to him. The elector, having taken the oath, gives the folded ballot to the examiner who carries it so that all can see it, takes it to the altar and, without any prayer or oath, puts it on the dish and slides it into the urn.

Voting by the sick

69. If any cardinal electors are ill in their rooms, the three deputies for the sick go to them with a small box that has a slit in the top through which the folded ballot can be inserted. Before the examiners give the box to the deputies, they open it and show the other electors that it is empty, then lock it and place the key on the altar. The deputies take the locked box and a plate containing the necessary number of ballots to each elector who is ill. The elector takes a ballot, secretly writes a name, folds the ballot and, after taking the oath, inserts it into the box. If the sick person cannot write, one of the three deputies, or some other cardinal elector whom the sick person deputes, takes an oath before the deputies that he will observe secrecy and then goes through the previous steps on behalf of the sick elector.

The deputies then take the box to the chapel where it is opened by the examiners who count the number of ballots in it; having ascertained that there are as many ballots as there are sick electors, they put the ballots on the dish one by one and finally slide them all together into the urn. Lest the balloting take too long, immediately after the senior cardinal elector has cast his vote the deputies can finish their own ballots and place them in the urn, then, while the other electors are voting, they can go for the ballots of the sick electors, as described above.

Counting the number of ballots

70. After all the cardinal electors have placed their ballots in the urn, the first examiner shakes it several times to mix up the ballots, then the third examiner immediately counts them, drawing them one by one from the urn and placing them in an empty receptacle set there for the purpose. If the number of ballots does not correspond to the number of electors, they are all to be burned and a second balloting is to be begun. If the number of ballots is correct, the results of the balloting are made known in the following manner.

71. The examiners sit at a table in front of the altar. The first examiner takes a ballot, opens it and, having seen the name written on it, hands it to the second examiner, who in turn sees the name and hands the ballot to the third examiner. The latter reads the name aloud in a clear voice so that all the electors present can record the vote on a sheet of paper ready for the purpose. The third examiner also records the name he has read from the ballot. If, in making the results of the voting known, the examiners find two ballots so folded in together that they appear to have been put into the urn by the same person, the two votes are to be regarded as one if they are for the same person. Neither is valid if they are for different persons. In any case, the balloting as a whole is not invalidated.

Once the ballots have been made public, the examiners total up the votes received by each candidate and record them on a separate page.

The third examiner, as he reads each ballot, puts a threaded needle through it at the word eligo, as a way of carefully preserving each in turn. Once all the names have been read, the ends of the thread are knotted together and the ballots thus tied in a bunch are placed in an empty urn or at one side of the table.

The third stage

72. The third and last stage is the postscrutinial stage. It includes (1 ) the counting of the total votes for each candidate, (2 ) the verification of the votes, (3 ) the burning of the ballots.

The examiners count up the votes each candidate has received. If no one receives two thirds of the votes plus one, no Pope is elected on that ballot. If someone does receive two thirds plus one, there has been a canonically valid election of a Roman Pontiff.

Whether or not there has been an election, the controllers must inspect both the ballots and the listing of the votes by the examiners, so as to determine whether the latter have faithfully and accurately carried out their duties.

Immediately after this verification and before the cardinal electors leave the room, all the ballots are to be burned by the examiners with the help of the secretary of the conclave and the masters of ceremonies, whom the junior cardinal deacon has meanwhile summoned for the purpose. If however, a second balloting is to take place immediately, the first set of the ballots is to be burned at the end, that is, along with the second set of ballots.

Records of the voting

73. In order that secrecy may be better guaranteed, We order each and all of the cardinal electors to hand over any notes dealing with the outcome of each balloting, to the Cardinal Camerlengo or one of the three cardinal assistants so that the notes may be burned along with the ballots.

We also decree that once the conclave is finished the Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church is to draw up a report, approved by the three cardinal assistants, which records the outcome of each balloting. This report, to be kept in the archives, is to be placed in a sealed envelope that may not be opened without the express permission of the Supreme Pontiff.

74. In confirmation of the norms established by Our predecessors, St. Pius X (13 ) and Pius XII, (14 ) We prescribe that at both the morning and evening sessions, immediately after a balloting that has not resulted in an election the cardinal electors are to proceed to another balloting and vote again the votes cast on the previous ballots are not to be taken into account in the new balloting. In this second round of voting the same procedure is to be followed as in the first except that the electors need not repeat the oath or elect new examiners; the oaths taken and the examiners chosen for the first vote suffice.

75. The whole procedure for balloting is to be carefully observed by the cardinal electors at each round of votes which takes place daily in the morning and evening. All the sacred rites and prayers prescribed in the Order of Sacred Rites for a Conclave are to be followed.

Regulations for protracted voting

76 If the cardinal electors cannot agree on the person to be elected, then, after they have cast their votes in vain for three days according to the prescribed manner (nos. 65 ff.), one day is to be allowed to pass without voting The purpose is that the electors may pray to God and converse freely among themselves and that the senior cardinal deacon may deliver a short spiritual exhortation. The balloting is then begun anew, following the same method. If no election occurs, seven ballotings are to be conducted. Then there is to be another interruption for prayer, discussion and an exhortation by the senior cardinal priest. Seven more ballotings, according to the prescribed manner, are then to be conducted if seven are needed. If these fail to produce an election, prayers are once more offered to God, the electors are to discuss the matter and the senior cardinal bishop is to deliver an exhortation to the electors.

At this point, the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church is to consult with the electors on procedure. The usual plan requiring two thirds of the votes plus one for a successful balloting is not to be abandoned unless the cardinal electors unanimously, without any dissenting voice, agree to another plan. This other plan may be the method of compromise (cf. no. 64) which requires only an absolute majority plus one or else a vote in which there are only two candidates, namely, the two who received the most votes in the immediately preceding balloting.

Nullity of an election

77. If an election is conducted according to some method other than the three listed above (nos. 63 ff.) or if the regulations governing each method are not followed, the election is automatically null and void (cf. no. 62). No further declaration of invalidity is needed and no power is bestowed on the man elected.

78. We declare that the norms thus far set down for the steps to be taken before the election and for the election itself of the Roman Pontiff are to be followed even if the vacancy in the Apostolic See should occur because the Supreme Pontiff has resigned.

Chapter 6

What Is To Be Observed and Avoided the Election of the Roman Pontiff

Simony wrong but not invalidating

79. Like Our predecessors, We reject and condemn the detestable sin of simony in the election of the Roman Pontiff and We impose an automatic excommunication on all who are guilty of this sin. At the same time, however, We also confirm the act of Our predecessor St. Pius X in canceling the invalidity of a simoniacal election as established by Julius II or any other pontifical decree. This We do lest the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff be attacked. (15 )

80. We also confirm the prescriptions of Our predecessors which command that no one, even a cardinal, may, during the Roman Pontiff's lifetime and without having consulted him, enter into consultations about his successor or promise a vote or make decisions regarding it in secret meetings.

Exclusion of outside intervention

81. We also confirm the decrees which Our predecessors issued with a view to excluding all external intervention in the election of the Supreme Pontiff. Therefore, again in virtue of holy obedience and under pain of automatic excommunication We forbid the cardinal electors, all and singly, present and future, as well as the secretary of the conclave and all other participants in the conclave to accept from any civil authority whosoever and under any pretext the commission to propose a veto or "exclusion," even in the form of a simple wish or to make such a veto known to the whole college assembled or to individual electors, either in writing or orally, either directly and in person or indirectly and through others, either before the conclave or during it. We intend this prohibition to extend to every form of interference, protest and wish by which secular authorities of any order or rank or any groups of persons or any individuals may try to take a hand in the election of a pontiff.

Freedom of the electors to vote

82. The cardinal electors are also to avoid all pacts, agreements, promises or any other commitments by which they can be bound to vote or not vote for any individual or individuals. We decree that any such agreements, even if made under oath, are null and void and that no one is bound to honor them; and We now impose an automatic excommunication on those who act against this prohibition. We do not intend, however, to forbid the electors to communicate their views on the election to one another while the see is vacant.

83. We also forbid the cardinals to make concessions before the election, that is, to enter upon agreements which each party binds himself to honor should he be elevated to the papacy. Again, We declare any such promises to be null and void, even if made under oath.

84. Like Our predecessors, We strongly exhort the cardinal electors not to be guided by likes or dislikes in electing the pope, nor influenced by the favor or compliance of anyone, nor moved by the interference of persons ... nigh places or pressure groups, or by the suasive language of the masters of the communications media, or by violence or fear or love of popularity. Instead, with God's glory and the good of the Church as their sole guide, and having asked for divine help, let them vote for him whom they judge most fit to rule the universal Church in a fruitful and useful way.

85. During the conclave, the church is united in a very special way with its sacred pastors and, in particular, with the cardinals who are electing a Supreme Pontiff and she asks God for a new leader as a gift of his providential goodness. For, like the first Christian community of which we read in the Acts of the Apostles, (16 ) the universal Church assembled in spirit with Mary the Mother of Jesus, must persevere in prayer. In consequence, the election of the new pontiff will not be the action solely of the electoral college, independent of any connection with the people of God but will, in a sense, be an action of the entire Church. For this reason, We decree that in every city and in other places as well, at least in the more important ones, as soon as news of the pope's death arrives and again after his solemn funeral rites have been celebrated humble and persevering prayers should be offered to God that he would enlighten the minds of the electors and bring them into an agreement which will result in a quick, unanimous and fruitful election, such as the salvation of souls and the good of the whole Catholic world require.

Let the man elected not be daunted

86. We ask him who shall be elected not to be frightened by the seriousness of the office into refusing it when he is called to it but to bow humbly to the divine will and plan. For God who lays the burden on him also supports him so that he can carry the burden. He who is the source of the burden also helps a man to cope with it. He who bestows the dignity gives the weak man strength lest he falter before the magnitude of the task.

Chapter 7

Acceptance and Proclamation of the Election

Coronation of the New Pope

87. After a canonically valid election, the junior cardinal deacon summons into the conclave assembly hall the secretary of the conclave, the master of pontifical ceremonies and the masters of ceremonies. The cardinal dean or the cardinal senior in order and age, acting in the name of the whole electoral college, asks the consent of the person elected, in these words: "Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?" As soon as the person elected declares his consent, he is asked: "What name do you wish to bear?" Then the master of pontifical ceremonies, acting as notary, with two masters of ceremonies as witnesses, makes a record of the new pope's acceptance and his choice of name.

88. After his acceptance, the person elected, if he be a bishop, is straightway bishop of Rome, true pope, and head of the episcopal college. He possesses and can exercise full and supreme power over the universal Church.

If, however, the elected person does not possess the episcopal character, he is to be immediately ordained a bishop.

Homage of the electors

89. Once the formalities have been observed in accordance with the Order of Sacred Rites for a Conclave, the cardinal electors come forward in their proper order to offer homage and obedience to the newly elected Supreme Pontiff. When this has been done, thanks are given to God. The senior cardinal deacon tells the waiting people of the new pope, and the latter immediately gives the Apostolic Blessing Urbi et Orbi (to the City [Rome] and the World).

If the newly elected pope lacks the episcopal character, homage and obedience is offered to him, but the people are told of the election only after he has been ordained a bishop.

90. If the elected person is not at the conclave, the regulations set down in the Order of the Sacred Rites for a Conclave are to be observed.

The episcopal Conclave of a Supreme Pontiff who is not yet a bishop(cf. nos. 88 and 89) is celebrated, according to Church usage, by the dean of the sacred college or, in his absence, the subdean or, if he too is prevented by the oldest cardinal bishop.

The Conclave ended

91. We decree that immediately after the new Supreme Pontiff has been elected and has given his assent, and after he has been ordained a bishop if need be (cf. nos. 88 and 89). the conclave is ended as far as its canonical effects are concerned (cf. no. 56). Therefore We decree that the newly elected Supreme Pontiff may now be approached by the substitute secretary of state (papal secretary), the secretary of the council for the public affairs of the Church, the prefect of the pontifical household, and others who must consult with the new pope on immediately pressing matters.

Crowning of the new pontiff

92. Finally, the new pontiff is to be crowned by the senior cardinal deacon. Within a suitable period, he is also to take possession, in the prescribed manner, of the Patriarchal Archbasilica of the Lateran.


After serious and lengthy consideration, We decree and prescribe these norms. We declare abrogated, as provided for above, the apostolic constitutions and ordinations issued on these matters by other Roman pontiffs, and We will that this constitution take full effect now and in the future. All of its explanations and determinations are to be carefully observed and fulfilled by all whom they affect, anything to the contrary notwithstanding, even if it be worthy of very special consideration. If anyone, knowingly or unknowingly, acts otherwise than We have prescribed, We declare his acts null and void.

Rome, at St. Peter's, October 1, 1975, the thirteenth year of Our pontificate.

Paul VI, Pope


1. Gratian, Decretum, Dist. 23, c. 1.
2. See Mansi, Conciliorum amplissima collectio, 23,217-218.
3. See Motu Proprio Cum grauissimo (April 15, 1962) AAS 54 (1962).
4. See AAS 62 (1970) 810-813.
5. See AAS 38 (1946) 65-99.
6. See AAS 54 (1962) 632-640.
7. See Prooeminum and no. 2, par. 6: AAS 59 (1967) 889, 891.
8. See no. 12: AAS 27 (1935) 112-113.
9. See no. 19, par. 2: AAS 59 (1967) 895.
10. Cf. Paul VI, Regimini Ecclesiae universae, prooemium: AAS 59 (1967) 889. 11. Paul VI, Motu Proprio Ingravescentem aetatem, II, 2: AAS 62 (1970) 811. 11a. Formula of the oath to be taken by the secretary of the conclave and the master of pontifical - ceremonies: «I, . . ., promise and swear that I will faithfully observe each and every decree of the sacred college and that I will execute the duties of my office in a diligent and conscientious way. I also promise and swear that I will preserve an inviolate secrecy . . ." (continuing with the oath taken by the officials of the conclave, which follows immediately in the text). 11b. Formula of their oath: "I, . . ., promise and swear that I will execute the duties of my office in a diligent and conscientious way, according to the norms established by the Supreme Pontiffs and the prescriptions of the Sacred College of Cardinals. So help me God and these holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hand." 12. See Pius XII Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, no. 68: AAS 38 (1946) 87. 13. See Pius X, Vacante Sede Apostolica, no. 68, in Pii X Pontificis Maximi Acta 3,280-281. 14. See Pius XII, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, no. 88: AAS 38 (1946) 93. 15. See Pius X, Vacante Sede Apostolica, no. 79, in Pii X Pontificis Maximi Acta 3,282. 16. See Ac 1,14.

Embryonic Reduction

Declaration by the Pontificate Council for the Family

The Pontificate Council for the Family has been invited to express its position regarding "embryonic reduction", and after having consulted with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issues the following Declaration.

Presently, cases of multiple pregnancies (whereby the maternal womb is shared by many embryos) have become less rare. These cases usually occur because of ovarian stimulation in the cases of infertility, or because of the recourse to artificial fecundation, about which the Magisterium has already pronounced itself (Cong.of the Doctrine of the Faith, Istr. Donum vitae, II). Above all, it is rightful to be aware of the difficult and even dramatic situations that such techniques can produce. We cannot therefore fail to bring to the attention, the responsibility of these doctors who, while practicing the hyper stimulation without the due ability and precaution, or applying the techniques of artificial fecundation, provoke situations to the point of endangering the life of the mother and the conceived children.

As regards to the multiple pregnancies, some affirm that they cannot arrive together at term, either because of the spontaneous death of the embryos in the uterus, or because of the premature birth of the foetuses without hope of life. In addition, moreover, it is said that if the unborn children arrive to term, the obstetrical difficulty (and the consequent danger for the mother) is increased. On this basis, they arrive to the conclusion that the selection and the elimination of a few embryos would be justified in order to save the others or at least one of them. It was for this reason that the technique called "embryonic reduction" was introduced.

In this regard, one must note what follows: since every embryo must be considered and treated as a human person in respect to his eminent dignity (Cong. for the Doct. of the Faith, Inst. Donum vitae, I, 1), from the first moment of conception, the fundamental human rights and foremost that of the right to life, must be given recognition to the unborn child, and this right must not be violated in any away. Beyond all confusion and ambiguity, it must therefore be affirmed that "embryonic reduction" constitutes a selective abortion: it consists in fact in the voluntary and direct elimination of an innocent human being (John Paul II, Encyclical Evangelium Vitae , 57). Whether it be sought as an end or used as a means, "embryonic reduction" always constitutes a grave moral disorder (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae , 62). Because it refers to a truth always accessible to simple reason, the unlawfulness of such behaviour imposes itself as a valid norm for all, even for unbelievers (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae , 101). The moral prohibition remains even in the case where the continuation of the pregnancy involves a risk to the life or to the health of the mother and of the other twin. It is forbidden in fact to do evil even as a means to a good end (John Paul II, Encyclical Evangelium Vitae , 57).

The life of a person comes from God, is always His gift, and the participation of His vital breath (John Paul II, Encyclical Evangelium Vitae , 39). The embryonic selection which consists in the voluntary elimination of a human life, cannot be justified neither on the basis of the so-called principle of the lesser evil, nor in basis of that of double effect: neither one nor the other, in fact, finds application in this case. Also, one cannot under-estimate the possibility that the adoption of the technique of embryonic reduction may lead to a eugenic intention, and thus through prenatal diagnostic techniques, there could be a point where the value of a human life would be measured only in terms of normality and of "physical well-being" (John Paul II, Encyclical Evangelium Vitae , 63), according to a reductive concept of "quality of life".

May the Lord of life accompany parents in the realization of their most high task and sustain them in the obligation to respect the right to existence of the child to be born. May He guide at the same time those who are at the service of life, to make all what is possible to save the mother and the children. Fortunately, thanks to the important scientific progresses accomplished in these last years, cases in which multiple pregnancies that could be conducted to a happy ending are not few. It is certain however that if the fact of having to assist helplessly at the premature death of innocent creatures is part of the human limit, never will it be morally lawful to provoke death voluntarily.

Vatican City, July 12, 2000.