The Remnant has learned that a Vatican document is currently under review by Pope Francis that would reform the papal conclave to exclude cardinals over the age of eighty from its preparatory phase, radically reshape the General Congregations, and potentially revolutionize who elects the Pope by having laity and women religious comprise twenty-five percent of the vote.
Since the end of August, these meetings have become more frequent and were held on a weekly basis until the start of the Synod assembly in early October.
The document under review would exclude from the General Congregations preceding the beginning of a papal election all non-voting cardinals, that is, all cardinals who have reached the age of eighty. Many contend that the Pope is made in the General Congregations, as it is in this preparatory phase that the problems facing the Church, and the qualities needed in a suitable candidate, are discussed. Given the long experience of the cardinals who are over eighty and the pivotal role they play in shaping the ideas of the cardinal-electors, their exclusion would widely be seen as wounding the Sacred College and the papal conclave. It would also reduce to an even smaller minority within the discussions those cardinals who had not been appointed by Pope Francis.
The document would also radically change the procedures and organization of the General Congregations, eliminating plenary sessions (wherein all the cardinals convene as a body) and establishing small working groups with a head to guide discussions, similar to the October 2023 synodal assembly.
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