Vatican: Cardinal Ghirlanda Denies Rumor of Conclave Reform

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda

In a statement to LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, rejected the news that the Pope intended to reform the method of electing a future Pontiff, saying such a report was “absolutely false.” This hypothetical reform had supposedly been entrusted to the Jesuit cardinal by Pope Francis.

The 81-year-old Jesuit cardinal categorically denied it: “Before your email I had no news about the Conclave reform that you mention.” He added, “This is absolutely false.”

On Sunday, November 5, The Pillar, followed by The Remnant, reported that Pope Francis put Cardinal Ghirlanda in charge of drafting a reform of the conclave and modifying the previous document, which dates from 1996, under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II—Universi dominici gregis (UDG).

Citing “sources close to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State,” The Pillar writes that the changes would affect the general congregations which precede the vote of the cardinals. According to UDG, these general congregations are open to all the cardinals, without age limitations.

These general congregations enable interaction between all the cardinals. They are subject to the same “obligation of secrecy” as the vote for the election of a new Pope. The first change, according to The Pillar, would exclude cardinals over the age of 80; only eligible cardinals under 80 would be able to attend the congregations.

A second change would modify the proceedings of these congregations, drawing inspiration from a more synodal style, as The Pillar reports. The speeches to the assembly of the College of cardinals would be replaced by sessions in the style of the ongoing Synod, with round tables [JO1] for “spiritual conversations,” followed by reports to the whole of the assembly summarizing the round table discussions.

The Remnant adds that the College of Cardinals would no longer be alone in electing the new Pope: Ghirlanda would try to persuade Pope Francis to allow laypeople—men and women—as well as religious sisters to make up 25% of the vote for the Pope. “Well-informed Vatican sources” are cited by The Remnant for this information.

The Pillar also hinted at the participation of lay electors, asserting that “Senior Roman clergy have told The Pillar that there have also been rumors that Pope Francis has considered the idea of inviting lay people to participate in general congregations.” The outlet added that it was not able to confirm the veracity of this information.

Bear in mind that Cardinal Ghirlanda is the preferred canon lawyer of the Pope: he was heavily involved in the reform of the Roman Curia, finalized by the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate evangelium, which permitted laypeople to occupy management positions within the Curia. He also replaced Cardinal Raymond Burke as Patron of the Order of Malta after reforming their Constitution.

Former Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Cardinal Ghirlanda, has held some ultra-modernist positions, maintaining that the Pope could delegate ecclesiastic jurisdiction to the laity.