With this December 21, 2019, motu proprio (a personal (unilateral) papal edict at the pope’s behest) Pope Francis has finally wrested control over the tenure of the Dean of the ‘College of Cardinals‘).
Prior to this, the Dean, once elected (by his fellow Cardinal Bishops (albeit, this as of, 1965)) — and then approved by the pope — had tenure for life or until he opted to resign (or, as is claimed in the case of Angelo Sodano, forced to resign). This has meant, as can be seen from image #2, that there have been some Deans that held sway well past their 80th year — though this, as of 1971, precluded them from participating in a conclave.
Francis’ goal is to try and have younger Deans — though this is not a given.
Making the tenure 5-years — with the pope reserving the right to renew the term — makes a lot of sense.
This goes, quite nicely, hand-in-hand, with the pope creating irregular Cardinal Bishops in 2018 — again in the hope of having under 80 cardinal bishops if there were to be a conclave.
What the pope is REALLY hoping is that the cardinal bishops will now elect a YOUNG Dean — which means that it will have to be an irregular. More on this in a later post.
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