Ingravescentem Ætatem

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Ingravescentem Ætatem is a motu proprio issued by Pope Paul VI, dated 21 November 1970. It is divided into 8 chapters.


Original text: Ingravescentem aetatem inter et aptitudinem ad quaedam maioris momenti officia, veluti Episcopi dioecesani et parochi, implenda naturalis ratio intercedens a Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II tractata est in Decreto a verbis Christus Dominus incipiente atque Nosmet ipsi, vota Patrum Concilii ad effectum deducentes, per Apostolicas Litteras Ecclesiae Sanctae, die VI mensis Augusti anno MCMLXVI motu proprio datas, Episcopos et parochos invitavimus, ut munere regendae dioecesis aut paroeciae non ultra expletum septuagesimum quintum annum sponte se abdicarent.


In this motu proprio the pope changed some regulations concerning the participating cardinals in the papal conclave.[1] Cardinals who reach the age of 80 lose their right to vote in the conclave. Cardinals do not lose their membership of the Sacred College of Cardinals, this jurisdiction remains unchanged.

Another introduction concerned the cardinals members of Curial Congregations, who automatically lose their membership at 80.[2]

This new regulation meant that during the Papal conclave of October 1978, 25 cardinals became ineligible to vote for the first time in a papal conclave, among them were the cardinals Antonio Caggiano (Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires), Giacomo Lercaro (Cardinal Archbishop of Bologna) and Carlos Carmelo Vasconcellos Motta (Protopriest of the College of Cardinals).

Although Cardinal Walter Kasper turned 80 a few days before the Conclave of 2013, he was not excluded (he was under 80 when the papacy became vacant). Thus, he was the oldest Cardinal Elector in that conclave.

Reactions of the ineligible Cardinals[edit]

Some Cardinals were very disappointed and did not accept the changes, notably Alfredo Ottaviani and Eugène Tisserant.[3][4] Since then the age of Cardinals creates the difference between electors and other cardinals. Until then all cardinals were automatically electors, and therefore this Motu has been a revolution in the history of the Catholic church. The pontiff has to be careful, so the balance of Electors and other Cardinals in the College is right.

Cardinals age 80 and over[edit]

Ingravescentem Ætatem gave the pontiff the possibility to create important priests age 80 years and over as cardinals, as honorific title.[citation needed] Most of them are cardinals only for a few years until their death. Often they are created Cardinal Deacon. This very rare honour is considered a personal gift from the pope and the highest honour possible for a priest.[citation needed]



  1. ^
  2. ^ New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law Door John P. Beal,James A. Coriden,Thomas Joseph Green
  3. ^ Francis A. Burkle-Young, Passing the keys: Modern cardinals, conclaves and the election of the next pope New York, Oxford, 1999 ISBN 1-56833-130-4, 204
  4. ^