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Newspaper says elderly cardinals seeking vote in conclave

The Italian daily La Repubblica reported yesterday that 59 octogenarian cardinals have written to Pope John Paul II asking him to reinstate their right to elect the next Pope.

Pope Paul VI ruled in 1970 that cardinals would relinquish their right to vote in the conclave after their 80th birthday.

Two of Australia's three cardinals will lose their vote by the middle of next year. Former Sydney Archbishop Cardinal Edward Clancy (pictured right, with Cardinal Pell) turns 80 in December, and former Vatican official Cardinal Edward Cassidy turns 80 next June.

La Repubblica said that the 59 cardinals aged 80 and over have written to the Holy Father, asking him to reinstate their voting rights. The Pope is yet to reply.

"Without the right to vote we are half-cardinals, second division cardinals," the paper quoted one octogenarian cardinal as saying.

Currently, the college of cardinal electors comprises 135 cardinals under the age of 80. 59 others are over age.

"All the cardinals over 80 feel this way. It's an inconceivable rule. A cardinal is there, first and foremost, to elect a pope and thereafter to follow him," said another.

Italian Cardinal Giovanni Cheli, 85, told the paper that "in effect, we feel a little robbed," though he personally had not made an issue of it "because Paul VI must have had his reasons for taking his decision."

Elderly cardinals in revolt over voting power: report (AFP/ABC)

Voting Cardinals ( | Non-voting Cardinas
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'After John Paul, what do you do for an encore?' (Chicago Sun-Times)

24 Oct 2003