In an Apostolic Letter issued in the form of a ‘Motu proprio’, Pope Francis amends the Canon Law of the Oriental Churches by providing that the bishops emeritus who have reached the age of 80 will no longer be able to vote in the Episcopal Synods of which they are members, though the rule does not apply to those who are already in office.
With a new Motu Proprio published on Monday, Pope Francis has modified the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches to exclude bishops who are members of the their respective Synods of Bishops from voting decisions after they have reached the age of eighty.
The Pope’s decision meets a longstanding request made by “some Patriarchs, Major Archbishops and Bishops”, as reads the title of the Motu proprio “Iam pridem” (“For some time now”, in Latin)
The Apostolic Letter, explains that the change was needed because of “the difficulties that have emerged in the Synods of Bishops of the Patriarchal Churches and Major Archiepiscopal Churches, due to the number of Bishops Emeritus who participate in them with an active voice, especially in the election of the Bishops and of the Heads and Fathers of their respective sui iuris (autonomous, ed.) Churches”.
These difficulties have prompted the heads of these Churches to ask for a new regulation which Pope Francis ordered in the Motu Proprio he signed on Sunday, April 16, which modifies Canons 66, § 1, 102, 149 and 183 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
The text specifies that the new legislation, which will come into force in a month’s time, “will not apply” to the “Patriarchs, Major Archbishops, Eparchial Bishops and Exarchs” currently in office “despite them having reached the age of eighty” .