Universi Dominici gregis

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Universi Dominici gregis on the vacancy of the apostolic chair and the election of the Pope of Rome is an apostolic constitution of Pope John Paul II. The constitution of February 22, 1996 lays down the procedure during a sedis vacancy and the subsequent conclave . With the constitution, John Paul II summarized the previously valid provisions regarding the election of the Pope and changed them in some points.

Important changes compared to previous regulations:

  • The election procedures by acclamationem seu inspirationem (by exclamation or inspiration) and by compromissum (by transferring the election to a smaller body) have been abolished. From now on, the Pope will be determined solely by scrutinium (by secret ballot).
  • A two-thirds majority is required for a valid election . If after 30 or 33 ballots - depending on the time of the first ballot - no decision has been made, the cardinals can choose a different voting mode in which only an absolute majority is required. This point was made by Pope Benedict XVI. In his Motu proprio De aliquibus mutationibus in normis de electione Romani Pontificis published in June 2007, a two-thirds majority is required again in all ballots, but only runoff elections take place after the 30th or 33rd ballot.
  • The maximum number of cardinals entitled to vote who have not yet reached the age of 80 on the day before the start of the sedis vacancy (see No. 33) must still not exceed 120. However, John Paul II deviated from this rule twice and temporarily increased the number to 135 each.

The title Universi Dominici gregis is formed from the initial words of the Latin version of the constitution, the corresponding passage reads "[Shepherd] of the entire flock of the Lord" in German.

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