Vatican City, Jan 6, 2021 / 03:01 am America/Denver (CNA).
As of the first month of 2021, the College of Cardinals is composed of 229 members, 128 of whom are under the age of 80, and therefore eligible to vote for the next pope in a future conclave.
It was St. Paul VI who established, on Nov. 20, 1970, that cardinals aged 80 and over could not participate in the process for electing a pope.
Paul VI wrote in his motu proprio Ingravescentem aetatem that “the higher good of the Church demands that we consider the problem of old age also in relation to the eminent office of Cardinals, for which we have shown special concern several times in the past.”
The office of cardinal “is indeed a matter of an office with particularly serious and delicate tasks,” the pope stated, “both because of the very singular connection which binds it to Our supreme responsibility at the service of the whole Church, and because of the high responsibility it entails in the vacancy of the Apostolic See with respect to the universal Church.”
Paul VI declared that after reaching the age of 80, a cardinal loses the right to elect the Roman Pontiff and, therefore, the right to take part in the conclave.