Romano Pontifici Eligendo was the Apostolic Constitution governing the election of popes that was promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1975. It instituted a number of far-reaching reforms in the process of electing popes.

Ban on cardinals over eighty voting

Its most dramatic reform was to give formal structure to Paul's already announced decision to prohibit cardinals over the age of eighty from participating and voting in the election of popes. The reasoning behind this is that Conclaves have a tendency to be strenuous and stressful; up until 1996, the Cardinals were locked into the Apostolic Palace, forced to live in temporary makeshift rooms, sharing a few common restrooms. At times, some Cardinals were too ill to even go to the Sistine Chapel. Paul VI's decision was to dispense the most elderly Cardinals from their Cardinantial obligations.

John Paul II kept this regulation in Universi Dominici Gregis.

Restrictions on conduct of the conclave

It also imposed extremely strict regulations on the conduct of papal conclaves, including the requirement that the windows of the Sistine chapel be boarded up during a conclave. Many cardinals complained that the restrictions were excessive during the two conclaves of 1978 and they were subsequently abolished by Pope John Paul II in his 1996 Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis.

Coronation still envisaged

When Pope Paul VI revised the regulations governing the election of popes, he had abandoned the wearing of a papal tiara, but he did not eliminate the mention of a coronation of newly elected popes. His successors, Popes John Paul I and John Paul II, who, once elected, were free to alter or dispense from these regulations, chose not to be crowned, and when in 1996 Pope John Paul II issued his Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, he removed from the regulations all mention of a coronation.[1] In his inauguration homily, Pope John Paul II said:

In past centuries, when the Successor of Peter took possession of his See, the triregnum or tiara was placed on his head. The last Pope to be crowned was Paul VI in 1963, but after the solemn coronation ceremony he never used the tiara again and left his Successors free to decide in this regard.

Pope John Paul I, whose memory is so vivid in our hearts, did not wish to have the tiara; nor does his Successor wish it today. This is not the time to return to a ceremony and an object considered, wrongly, to be a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes.

Our time calls us, urges us, obliges us to gaze on the Lord and immerse ourselves in humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ himself.[2]


See also

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