A Constitución Apostólica Universi Dominici Gregis -nome que recibe o documento das súas primeiras palabras na versión latina: (Pastor de) Todo o Rabaño. An apostolic constitution (Latin: constitutio apostolica) is the most solemn form of legislation issued by the Pope. The use of the term constitution comes from. A constitución apostólica Anglicanorum Coetibus do papa Bieito XVI en foi unha resposta da Santa Sé para as preocupacions e peticións con orixe tanto.

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Apostolic Letter issued “Motu Proprio” reinstating the traditional norms for the majority required to elect the Supreme Pontiff June 11, [ FrenchLatin ]. The Shepherd of the Lord’s whole flock is the Bishop of the Church of Rome, where the Blessed Apostle Peter, by sovereign disposition of divine Providence, offered to Christ the supreme witness of dominlci by the shedding of his blood. It is therefore understandable that the lawful apostolic succession in this See, with which “because of its great pre-eminence every Church must agree”,1 has always been the object of particular attention.

Precisely for this reason, down the centuries the Supreme Pontiffs have deemed it their special duty, as well as their specific right, to establish fitting norms to regulate the orderly election of their Successor. Thus, also in more recent times, my Predecessors Saint Pius X,2 Pius XI,3 Pius XII,4 John XXIII 5 and lastly Paul VI,6 each with the intention of responding to the needs of the particular historical moment, issued wise and appropriate regulations in order to ensure the suitable preparation and orderly gathering of the electors charged, at the vacancy of the Apostolic See, with the important and weighty duty of electing the Roman Pontiff.

If I too now turn to this matter, it is certainly not because of any lack of esteem for those norms, for which I have great respect and which I intend for the most part to confirm, at least with regard to their substance and the basic principles which inspired them. What leads me to take this step is awareness of the Church’s changed situation today and the need to take into consideration the general revision of Canon Law which took place, to the satisfaction of the whole Episcopate, with the publication and promulgation first of the Code of Canon Law and subsequently of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

While keeping in unniversi present-day requirements, I have been careful, in formulating the new discipline, not to depart in substance from the wise and venerable tradition already established.

It is in fact aplstlica indisputable principle that contsitucin Roman Pontiff has the right to define and adapt to changing times the manner of designating the person called to assume the Petrine succession in the Roman See. This regards, first of all, the body entrusted with providing for the election of the Roman Pontiff: While it is indeed a doctrine of faith that the power of the Supreme Pontiff derives directly from Christ, whose earthly Vicar he is,8 it is also certain that this supreme power in the Church is granted to him “by means of lawful election accepted by him, together with episcopal consecration”.

Consequently the norms which regulate its activity need to be very precise and clear, so that the election itself will take place in a most worthy manner, as befits the office of utmost responsibility which the person elected will have to assume, by divine mandate, at the moment of his assent.

Confirming therefore the norm of the current Code of Canon Law cf. Canonwhich reflects the millennial practice of the Church, I once more affirm that the College of electors of the Supreme Pontiff is composed solely of the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church. In them one finds expressed in a remarkable synthesis the two aspects which characterize the figure and office of the Roman Pontiff: Roman, because identified with the Bishop of the Church in Rome and thus closely linked to the clergy of this City, represented by the Cardinals of the presbyteral and diaconal titles of Rome, and to the Cardinal Ggegis of the suburbicarian Sees; Pontiff of the universal Church, because called to represent visibly the unseen Pastor who leads his whole flock to the pastures of eternal life.


The universality of the Church is clearly expressed in the very composition of the College of Cardinals, whose members come from every continent.

In the present historical circumstances, the universality of the Church is sufficiently expressed by the College of one hundred and twenty electors, made up of Cardinals coming from all parts of the world and from very different cultures. I therefore confirm that this is to be the maximum number of Cardinal vonstitucin, while at the same time indicating that it is in no way meant as a sign of less respect that the provision laid down by my predecessor Pope Paul VI has been constitucij, namely, that those Cardinals who celebrate their eightieth dominiic before the day when the Apostolic See becomes vacant do not take part in the election.

This does not however mean that the Cardinals over eighty years of age cannot take part in the preparatory meetings of the Conclave, in conformity with the norms set forth below. During the vacancy of kniversi Apostolic See, and especially during the election of the Supreme Pontiff, they in particular should lead the People of God assembled in the Patriarchal Basilicas of Rome and in other churches in the Dioceses throughout the world, supporting the work of the electors with fervent prayers and supplications to the Holy Spirit and imploring for them the light needed to make their choice before God alone and with concern only for the “salvation of apostoica, which in the Church must always be the supreme law”.

It kniversi been my wish to give particular attention to the age-old institution of the Conclave, the rules and procedures of which have been established and defined apotslica the solemn ordinances of a number of my Predecessors.

A careful historical examination confirms both the appropriateness of this institution, given the circumstances in which it originated and gradually took definitive shape, and its continued usefulness for the orderly, expeditious and proper functioning of the election itself, especially in times of tension and upheaval.

Precisely for this reason, while recognizing that theologians and canonists of all times agree that this institution is not of its nature necessary for the valid election dominuci the Roman Pontiff, I confirm by this Constitution that the Conclave is to continue in its essential structure; at the same time, I have made some modifications in order to adapt its procedures to present-day circumstances. Specifically, I have considered it appropriate to decree that for the whole duration of the election the living-quarters of the Cardinal electors and of those called to assist in the orderly process of the election itself are to be located in suitable places within Vatican City State.

Although small, the State is large enough to ensure within its constitucib, with the help of the appropriate measures indicated below, the seclusion and resulting concentration which an act so vital to the whole Church requires of the electors.

At the same time, in view of the sacredness of the act of election and thus the need for it to be carried out in an appropriate setting where, on the one domniici, liturgical actions can be readily combined with gregs formalities, and where, on the other, the electors can more easily dispose themselves to accept the interior movements of the Holy Spirit, I decree that the election will comstitucin to take place in the Sistine Chapel, where everything is conducive to an awareness of the presence of God, in whose sight each person will one day be judged.

I further confirm, by my apostolic authority, the duty of maintaining the strictest secrecy with regard to everything that directly or indirectly concerns the election process itself.


Here too, though, I have wished to simplify the relative norms, reducing them to their essentials, in order to avoid confusion, doubts and even eventual problems of conscience on the part of those who have taken part in the election. Finally, I ocnstitucin deemed it necessary to revise the form of the election itself in the light of the present-day needs of the Church and the usages of modern society.

I have thus considered it fitting not to retain election by acclamation quasi ex univerwi, judging that it is no longer an apt means of interpreting the thought of an electoral college so great in number and so diverse in origin.

It also appeared necessary to eliminate election per compromissum, not only because of the difficulty of the procedure, evident from the unwieldy accumulation of rules issued in the past, but also because by its very nature it tends to lessen the responsibility of the individual electors who, in this case, would not be required to express their choice personally. After careful reflection I have therefore decided that the only form by which the electors can manifest their vote in the election of the Roman Pontiff is by secret ballot, in accordance with the rules set forth below.

This form offers the greatest guarantee of clarity, straightforwardness, simplicity, openness and, above all, an effective and fruitful participation on the part of the Cardinals who, individually and as a group, are called to make up the assembly which elects the Successor of Peter. With these intentions, I promulgate the present Apostolic Constitution containing the norms which, when the Roman See becomes vacant, are to be strictly followed by the Cardinals whose right and duty it is to elect the Successor of Peter, the visible Head of the whole Church and the Servant of the servants of God.

During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the College of Cardinals has no power or jurisdiction in matters which pertain to the Supreme Pontiff during his lifetime or in the exercise of his office; such conztitucin are to be reserved completely and exclusively to the future Pope. I therefore declare null and void any act of power or jurisdiction pertaining to the Roman Pontiff during his lifetime or in the exercise of his office which gregid College of Cardinals might see fit to exercise, beyond the limits expressly permitted in this Constitution.

During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the government of the Church is entrusted to the College of Cardinals solely for constituin dispatch of ordinary business and of matters which cannot be postponed cf. This task must be carried out in the ways and within the limits set down by this Constitution: I further establish that the College of Cardinals may make no dispositions whatsoever concerning the rights of the Apostolic See and of the Roman Church, much less allow any of these rights to lapse, either directly or indirectly, even though it constituicn to resolve disputes or to prosecute actions perpetrated against these same rights after the death or valid resignation of the Pope.

During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, laws issued by the Roman Pontiffs can in no way be corrected or modified, nor can constifucin be added or subtracted, nor a dispensation be given even from a part of them, especially with regard to the procedures governing the election of the Supreme Pontiff.

Indeed, aplstlica anything be done or even attempted against this prescription, by my supreme authority I declare it null and void. Should doubts arise concerning the prescriptions contained in this Constitution, or concerning the manner of putting them into effect, I decree that all power of issuing a apostlicq in this regard belongs to the College of Cardinals, to which I grant the faculty of interpreting doubtful or controverted points.

I also establish that should it be necessary to discuss these or other similar questions, except the act of election, it suffices that the majority of the Cardinals present should concur in the same opinion.

In the same way, should there be a problem which, in the view of the majority of the assembled Cardinals, cannot be postponed until another time, the College of Cardinals may act according to the majority opinion.

While the See is vacant, there are two kinds of Congregations of the Cardinals: General Congregations, which include the whole College and are held before the beginning of the election, and Particular Congregations. All the Cardinals who are not legitimately impeded must attend the General Congregations, once they have been informed of the vacancy of the Apostolic See. Cardinals who, by virtue of No. The office of these Cardinals, called Assistants, uinversi at the conclusion of the third full day, and their place is taken by others, also chosen by lot and having the same term of office, also after the election has begun.

During the time of the election, more important matters are, if necessary, dealt with by the assembly of the Cardinal electors, while ordinary affairs continue to be dealt with by the Particular Congregation of Cardinals. In the General and Particular Congregations, during the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Cardinals are to wear the usual black cassock with piping and the red sash, with skull-cap, pectoral cross and ring.

The Particular Congregations are to deal only with questions of lesser importance which arise on a daily basis or from time to time. But should there arise more serious fominici deserving fuller examination, these must be submitted to the General Congregation.

Moreover, anything decided, resolved or refused in one Particular Congregation cannot be revoked, aopstlica or granted in another; the right to do this belongs solely fominici the General Congregation, and by a majority vote.

The General Congregations of Cardinals are to be held in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican or, if circumstances demand it, in another place judged more suitable by the Cardinals.

At these Congregations the Dean of the College presides or, should he be absent or lawfully impeded, the Subdean. If one or both of these, in accordance with No.

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Votes in the Congregations of Cardinals, when more important matters are concerned, are not to be expressed by word of mouth but in a way which ensures secrecy. The General Congregations preceding the beginning of the election, which are therefore called “preparatory”, are to be held daily, beginning on the day which shall be fixed by the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church and the senior Cardinal of each of the three Orders among the electors, and including the days on which the funeral rites for the deceased Pope are celebrated.

In this way the Cardinal Camerlengo can hear the opinion of the College and communicate whatever is considered necessary or appropriate, while dominivi individual Cardinals can express their views on possible problems, ask for explanations in case of doubt and make suggestions. In the first General Congregations domijici is to be made for each Cardinal to have available a copy of this Constitution and at the same time to have an opportunity to raise questions about the meaning and the implementation of its norms.

The part of the present Constitution regarding the vacancy of the Apostolic See should also be read aloud. At the same time the Cardinals present are to swear an oath to observe the prescriptions contained herein and to maintain secrecy.

This oath, which shall also be taken by Cardinals who arrive late and subsequently take part in these Congregations, is to be read aloud by the Cardinal Dean or by whoever else presides over the College by virtue of No. We, the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church, of the Order of Bishops, of Priests and of Deacons, promise, pledge and swear, as a body and individually, to observe exactly and faithfully all the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, and to maintain rigorous secrecy with regard to all matters in any way related to the election of the Roman Pontiff or those which, by their very nature, during the vacancy of the Apostolic See, call for the same secrecy.


Next, each Cardinal shall add: And, placing his hand on the Gospels, he will add: So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I now touch with my hand. In one of the Congregations immediately following, the Cardinals, on the basis of a prearranged agenda, shall take the more urgent decisions regarding the beginning of the election. According to the provisions of Article 6 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus ,13 at the death of the Pope all the heads of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia — the Cardinal Secretary of State and the Cardinal Prefects, the Archbishop Presidents, together with the members of those Dicasteries — cease to exercise their office.

An exception is made for the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church and the Major Penitentiary, who continue to exercise their ordinary functions, submitting to the College of Cardinals matters that would have had to be referred to the Supreme Pontiff. Should the offices of Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church or of Major Penitentiary be vacant at the time of the Pope’s death, or should they become vacant before the election of his successor, the College of Cardinals shall as soon as domunici elect the Cardinal, or Cardinals as the case may be, who shall hold these offices until the alostlica of the new Pope.

In each of the univeris cases mentioned, election takes place by a secret vote of all the Cardinal electors present, with the use of ballots distributed and collected by the Masters of Ceremonies. The ballots are then opened in the presence ocnstitucin the Camerlengo and of the three Cardinal Assistants, if it is a matter of electing the Major Penitentiary; if it is a matter of electing the Camerlengo, domijici are opened in the presence of the said three Cardinals and of the Secretary of the College of Cardinals.

Whoever receives the greatest number of votes shall be elected and shall ipso facto enjoy all the relevant faculties. In the case of an equal number of votes, the Cardinal belonging to the higher Order or, if both are in the same Order, the one first created a Cardinal, shall be appointed. Until the Camerlengo is elected, his functions are carried out by the Dean of the College or, if he is absent or lawfully impeded, by the Subdean or by the senior Cardinal according to the usual order of precedence, in conformity with No.

If during the vacancy of the Apostolic See the Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome should die, the Vicegerent in office at the time shall also exercise the office proper to the Cardinal Vicar in addition to the ordinary vicarious jurisdiction which he already holds. As soon as he is informed of the death of the Supreme Pontiff, the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church must officially ascertain the Pope’s death, in the presence of the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, of the Cleric Prelates of the Apostolic Camera and of the Secretary and Chancellor of the same; the latter shall draw up the official death certificate.

During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church has the duty of safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three Cardinal Assistants, having sought the views of the College of Cardinals, once only for less important matters, and on each occasion when more serious matters arise.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals, univsrsi his part, as soon as he has been informed of the Pope’s death by the Cardinal Constktucin or the Prefect of the Papal Household, shall inform all the Cardinals and convoke them for the Congregations of the College.

He shall also communicate news of the Pope’s death to the Diplomatic Corps accredited gregia the Holy See and to the Heads of the respective Nations. During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, the Secretary for Relations with States and the Secretaries of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia remain in charge of their respective offices, and are responsible to the College of Cardinals.

The Almoner of His Holiness will also continue to carry out works of constutucin in accordance with the criteria employed during the Pope’s lifetime. He will be dependent upon the College of Cardinals until the election of the new Pope.

During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, all the civil power of the Supreme Pontiff concerning the government of Vatican City State belongs to the College of Cardinals, which however will be unable to issue decrees except aopstlica cases of urgent necessity and solely for the time in which the Holy See is vacant.

Such decrees will be valid for the future only if the new Pope confirms them. During the period of vacancy, the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, with the exception of those mentioned in No. The ordinary faculties proper to each Dicastery do not, however, cease at the death of the Pope. Nevertheless, I decree that the Dicasteries are only to make use of these faculties for the granting of favours of lesser importance, while more serious or controverted matters, if they can be postponed, shall be exclusively reserved to the future Pope.

If such matters admit of no delay as for example universo the case of dispensations which the Supreme Pontiff usually grants in articulo mortisthey can be entrusted by the College of Cardinals to the Cardinal who was Prefect until the Pope’s death, or to the Archbishop who was then President, and to the other Cardinals of the same Dicastery, to whose examination the deceased Supreme Pontiff would probably have entrusted them.

In such circumstances, they will be able to decide per modum provisionis, until the election of the Pope, what they judge to be most fitting and appropriate for the preservation and defence of ecclesiastical rights and traditions.

News on the 25th of September –

The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, during the vacancy of the Holy See, continue to deal with cases in accordance with their proper laws, with due regard for the prescriptions of Article 18, paragraphs 1 and 3 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus.

After the death of the Roman Pontiff, the Cardinals will celebrate the funeral rites for the repose of his soul for nine consecutive days, in accordance with the Ordo Exsequiarum Romani Pontificis, the norms of which, together with those of the Ordo Rituum Conclavis, they are to observe faithfully. If burial takes place in the Vatican Basilica, the relevant official document is drawn up by the Notary of the Chapter of the Basilica or by the Canon Archivist.

Subsequently, a delegate of the Cardinal Camerlengo and a delegate of the Prefect of the Papal Household shall separately draw up documents certifying that burial has taken place. The former shall do so in the presence of the members of the Apostolic Camera and the latter in the presence of the Prefect of the Papal Household. If the Roman Pontiff should die outside Rome, it is the task of the College of Cardinals to make all necessary arrangements for the dignified and reverent transfer of the body to the Basilica of Saint Peter’s in the Vatican.