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  #1  
Old 07-21-2008, 07:25 AM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Why can't cardinals over 80 vote for pope?

Relatively recently cardinals over 80 years of age were barred from voting in the papal conclave. What was the rationale for implementing this rule? What did Paul VI have against old people?
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  #2  
Old 07-21-2008, 07:32 AM
Dunderman Dunderman is offline
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Mental faculties do deteriorate with age, and I guess they didn't want senile people deciding who should serve as God's stand-in on Earth. As for why they set a hard limit instead of disqualifying the unsuitable on a case-to-case basis, I guess a) they didn't want to go all personal and b) religion isn't known for soft rules.
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Old 07-21-2008, 09:13 AM
slaphead slaphead is offline
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Or possibly they were worried that the very elderly will
  • Be out of touch with the needs of catholics in the modern age
  • Give less thought than they should to the choice of Pope, since they aren't likely to have to work with him for very long
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Old 07-21-2008, 09:17 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Priceguy
Mental faculties do deteriorate with age, and I guess they didn't want senile people deciding who should serve as God's stand-in on Earth. As for why they set a hard limit instead of disqualifying the unsuitable on a case-to-case basis, I guess a) they didn't want to go all personal and b) religion isn't known for soft rules.
Doesn't that thought process kind of clash with the idea that the Holy Spirit is making sure they'll get the right man for the job?
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  #5  
Old 07-21-2008, 10:23 AM
APB APB is offline
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In introducing the restriction in Ingravescentem Aetatem, Paul VI said that it was because of 'the increasing burden of age' and because a cardinal was 'a particularly important office which demands great prudence'.

Just as importantly, the change was related to the rule, implemented at the same time, that cardinals had to retire from the Curia at eighty and followed on from the introduction of retirement ages for bishops and parish priests.
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:44 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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I suspect that an important, albeit undeclared, issue is politics. The College of Cardinals is like the American Supreme Court - once somebody gets in, they stay for life and future Popes and Presidents have to deal with them even if they don't agree with them. And the oldest members are the ones most likely to have been appointed by a previous administration.

So by reducing the power of cardinals over eighty (and voting on a new Pope is a major power) the current Pope is increasing the power of the cardinals under eighty (who are more likely to be his appointees).

In support of this, I'll point out that Paul VI, who created this policy, had very different views than his predecessor, John XXIII. Paul also used his other related power - appointing new cardinals - to influence the future direction of the church. He appointed 143 cardinals during his reign, including the future John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.
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  #7  
Old 07-21-2008, 10:54 AM
Schnitte Schnitte is offline
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I agree with parts of what Little Nemo said - one motive which can add to this is the need to restrict the size of the electorate. Traditionally, the number of cardinals has been rather low, with the vast majority of them being the Italian cardinals. The creation of many new cardinals, especially in the developing world which has long been underrepresented, has expanded the papal conclave. This causes a number of problems for the actual election procedure, not only logistically, but also with regards to the need of the voters to reach consensus in discussions and private talks during the conclave. A maximum age is one possible way to limit the size of the electorate.
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  #8  
Old 07-21-2008, 02:03 PM
Billdo Billdo is offline
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One side effect of this is it allows the Pope to appoint people who are over 80 to be, in effect, "honorary" Cardinals. For instance, by appointing them as overage Cardinals, the Pope can honor theologians like Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. (and by implication, their theologies) and others who aren't the major metropolitan Archbishops and Curia members who usually become voting Cardinals. Because they have no voting rights, or really any other powers beyond the right to wear nifty red vestaments (Cardinal Dulles even declined to be ordained as a Bishop upon his elevation to Cardinal), they do not upset Vatican politics.
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  #9  
Old 07-21-2008, 02:52 PM
Stathol Stathol is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by APB
In introducing the restriction in Ingravescentem Aetatem, Paul VI said that it was because of 'the increasing burden of age' and because a cardinal was 'a particularly important office which demands great prudence'.
I can't be the only person to see the situational irony of that declaration being made by the pope, of all people. "The increasing burden of age" is apparently an important issue of consideration for every high office except the most important one of all. The pope is the pope for life, no matter how senile he gets.
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Old 07-21-2008, 03:00 PM
Giles Giles is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stathol
The pope is the pope for life, no matter how senile he gets.
Well, to be fair, no recent pope has become senile as he aged. If the issue did arise, it would not be impossible for the closest advisers to say something like, "Holy Father, we think it is time you considered resigning, because of your informities in old age," especially if that could be backed up by medical advice.
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  #11  
Old 07-21-2008, 03:12 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
Doesn't that thought process kind of clash with the idea that the Holy Spirit is making sure they'll get the right man for the job?
Maybe the Holy Spirit helps makes sure they get the right man for the job by encouraging Pope Paul to make rules that don't let cardinals over 80 vote?
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  #12  
Old 07-21-2008, 03:19 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stathol
The pope is the pope for life, no matter how senile he gets.
Well, you know, takes one to know one, and all that....
Quote:
Maybe the Holy Spirit helps makes sure they get the right man for the job by encouraging Pope Paul to make rules that don't let cardinals over 80 vote?
Were cardinals who made it to 80 somehow more competent during the previous Papacy? It seems to me if you're going to accept that some sort of divine hand is guiding your pseudo-democracy you have to live with the rules which are already in place.

I mean, if you needed Rule X, God would have provided it already, right?
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  #13  
Old 07-21-2008, 03:26 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
I mean, if you needed Rule X, God would have provided it already, right?
It sorts of defeats the point to have a divinely picked leader who can speak for God if all he ever says is, "Keep doing what you're doing, guys".
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  #14  
Old 07-21-2008, 03:29 PM
Stathol Stathol is offline
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Ok. But if one were to become senile or go stark-raving mad or something, I'm not certain that there's anything they could technically do about it. As I understand it, a pope can't be removed from office - they have to abdicate, and the abdication cannot be coerced. Do the cardinals, without the approval of the pope, have the authority to change that sort of Vatican law?

Now the theological argument may be that the pope's election is divinely guided, and therefore something like that would never happen. Or perhaps it's just that forced abdication can't be allowed because of the divine appointment. Either way, what does it say about the cardinals' appointment that they have to "age out"? Paul VI's argument wasn't even necessarily about something as severe as senility - just the general mental effects of aging. Even if the recent popes have avoided outright senility, I can't imagine that their minds were as sharp as they were at, say, age 60.

Anyway, it's really no skin off my nose either way. I just thought it was kind of funny to hear a pope make that argument.
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  #15  
Old 07-21-2008, 03:33 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Amazing
It sorts of defeats the point to have a divinely picked leader who can speak for God if all he ever says is, "Keep doing what you're doing, guys".
In Catholic theology, God is omniscient. If you were going to need things changed, he would have known.
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  #16  
Old 07-21-2008, 04:22 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stathol
Ok. But if one were to become senile or go stark-raving mad or something, I'm not certain that there's anything they could technically do about it. As I understand it, a pope can't be removed from office - they have to abdicate, and the abdication cannot be coerced. Do the cardinals, without the approval of the pope, have the authority to change that sort of Vatican law?
I think thatis when the little silver hammer may have come out a bit early ...

Sorry, the pope died *suddenly* in the middle of the night with no previous illness .... just a touch of food poisoning...
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  #17  
Old 07-21-2008, 04:30 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
In Catholic theology, God is omniscient. If you were going to need things changed, he would have known.
Right, but in Catholic theology, God also limits his own powers to allow for human agency, and provides for progressive revelation of his will. So, it might have been the divine will all along that cardinals over 80 shouldn't help select the Pope, but for whatever reason, didn't reveal that until Pope Paul's changes.
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  #18  
Old 07-21-2008, 04:44 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stathol
Ok. But if one were to become senile or go stark-raving mad or something, I'm not certain that there's anything they could technically do about it.
Clement XII went senile, and the church leadership dealt with that by pretty much locking him in his apartments and ignoring him while they went on to govern in his name.

Urban VI was probably crazy...after he was elected, he cursed out the cardinals who elected him, and ended up causing a schism in the church. (He also excommunicated one of his biggest supporters and protectors, causing her to turn on him, allied with one of her enemies, and then alienated him, which got him locked up. After he managed to get out of that, some of the cardinals who were with him decided to start looking into the question of what exactly you can do with a crazy pope, he found out about it, and had them arrested and tortured to death)
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  #19  
Old 07-21-2008, 10:30 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Amazing
Right, but in Catholic theology, God also limits his own powers to allow for human agency, and provides for progressive revelation of his will. So, it might have been the divine will all along that cardinals over 80 shouldn't help select the Pope, but for whatever reason, didn't reveal that until Pope Paul's changes.
Well that's awfully convenient.


Really?
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  #20  
Old 07-21-2008, 11:29 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
In Catholic theology, God is omniscient. If you were going to need things changed, he would have known.
And he would know if the changes have to happen in a specific point in time, as opposed to before or after (Anyway, the age requirements for cardinal elector are NOT a fundamental part of Christian doctrine, but a procedural matter. If the election is in God's hands anyway, there's no need to make some really old guy travel all the way to Rome, is it?)

- JRD (leaving tonight, wil be back next week to see if the thread lives on )
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  #21  
Old 07-22-2008, 08:23 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Originally Posted by JRDelirious
If the election is in God's hands anyway, there's no need to make some really old guy travel all the way to Rome, is it?)
Well, the Holy Spirit has to make his views known somehow. Television advertising or billboards are a bit... well, ungodly.
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  #22  
Old 07-22-2008, 09:27 AM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
Well that's awfully convenient.


Really?
Maybe or maybe not. God might not even care how we go about it. He won't interfere with us mucking about with the messy details of actually getting things together, anyway.
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