Vatican City

Letter from Rome: Synodality and electing the bishop of Rome

Does a conclave that is restricted to cardinals still make sense in a synodal church?

Robert Mickens, Rome

Updated: June 20, 2022 07:53 AM GMT

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (center) and ecclesiasts pray before closing the door of the pontiff's apartments at the Vatican after the departure of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 28, 2013. Pope Benedict had become the first pope to resign in over 700 years. (Photo: AFP/Osservatore Romano)

Over new plan to elect pope, 3 cardinals threaten to quit. That headline appeared in the Oct. 6, 1972, issue of the National Catholic Reporter.

If insiders' reports are accurate, Pope Paul is faced with a threatened palace revolt over proposed changes in the procedures used to elect a pope, wrote Desmond O'Grady, the now-deceased Australian who was the newspaper's very first Rome correspondent.

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He said these three senior clerics feared Paul VI would cave into demands to substantially alter who can participate in the conclave that elects the Roman pontiff.

The new plan evidently was to allow the presidents of national episcopal conferences to be part of the electoral body and to restrict the vote of the cardinals to only those who are in charge of Vatican offices or local dioceses at the time of the death or resignation of the pope.

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