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from issue no. 05 - 2003

The election of the Pope in history

Questions of quorum

The election of the Pope in history

by Gianni Cardinale

Doctor Ambrogio Piazzoni, Vice-Prefect of the Apostolic Vatican Library, the first lay person to hold the post, is the author of the fascinating volume Storie delle elezioni pontificie (History of Papal elections), (Piemme, 2003, 349 pp., euro 19,90). In an enthralling, but also scholarly flawless way, two thousand years of the history of the Church are recounted, seen from the particular angle of Papal elections.
On 12 March last the book had its launch in Rome on the premises of the LUMSA University. In the course of the presentation the brief contribution read by Monsignor Walter Brandmüller, President of the Papal Committee of Historical Sciences was particularly intriguing. In his speech, which we publish in these pages, the Bavarian ecclesiastic dwelt on the Great Western Schism (1378-1417), a period of history he has specifically studied, and recalled the issue of the two-thirds quorum required for papal election, decreed as long ago as 1179 by Alexander III and now, in certain given circumstances established by John Paul II with the Apostolic Constitution Universi dominici gregis in 1996, no longer required.
The launch of Piazzoni’s book was attended not only by Monsignor Brandmüller but also by the Argentine Cardinal Jorge María Mejía, librarian and archivist of the Holy Roman Church (when Universi dominici gregis was published, it was he who presented it at the Vatican Press Office in his role as Secretary of the Congregation of the Bishops and therefore Secretary of the College of Cardinals), by Senator Giulio Andreotti, and by Marco Tosatti, Vatican reporter for La Stampa. Among the audience there was Monsignor Raffaello Funghini, Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, and Don Raffaele Farina, a Salesian, Prefect of the Apostolic Vatican Library.

Gia. Ca.

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