Jus exclusivae

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Jus Exclusivæ (Latin for "right of exclusion"; sometimes called the papal veto) was the right claimed by several Catholic monarchs of Europe to veto a candidate for the papacy. At times the right was claimed by the French monarch, the Spanish monarch, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Emperor of Austria. These powers would make known to a papal conclave, through a crown-cardinal, that a certain candidate for election was considered objectionable as a prospective Pope.

Early history

This right seems to have been claimed during the 17th century. It does not seem to be related to a right exercised by Byzantine emperors and Holy Roman Emperors to confirm the election of a Pope, which was last exercised in the Early Middle Ages. Spain, which ruled much of Italy at the time, raised the claim in 1605. In 1644, in the conclave which elected Cardinal Giovanni Battista Pamphili (who became Pope Innocent X), Jus Exclusivæ was first exercised, by Spain, to exclude Cardinal Sacchetti. Cardinal Jules Mazarin of France arrived too late at that conclave to present the veto of France against Cardinal Pamphili, who had already been elected. Around this period, treatises arise in defence of this right. At the 1846 conclave, Austrian Chancellor Klemens von Metternich confided Austria's veto of Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti (who became Pope Pius IX) to Cardinal Carlo Gaetano Gaisruck, Archbishop of Milan, who arrived too late. [1]

Similar actions prior to 1644

Instances of Jus Exclusivae being exercised after 1644

Franz Joseph I of Austria was the last monarch to attempt to exercise the jus exclusivae.

Papal attitude toward the Jus Exclusivae

The right has never been formally recognised by the papacy, though conclaves have considered it expedient to recognise secular objections to certain papabili (persons considered as likely candidates for the papacy), and to accept secular interference as an unavoidable abuse. By the Bull In eligendis (9/10/1562) Pope Pius IV ordered the cardinals to elect a Pope without deference to any secular power. The Bull Aeterni Patris Filius (15/11/1621) forbids cardinals to conspire to exclude any candidate. These pronouncements however, do not specifically condemn the jus exclusivae. In the Constitution In hac sublimi (23/08/1871) Pius IX did however forbid any kind of secular interference in papal elections.

The most recent attempt to exercise the right (in 1903 to exclude Cardinal Rampolla) was publicly rejected by the conclave, although the conclave ultimately elected Cardinal Sarto (Pius X) instead. The following year, Pius X absolutely forbade the jus exclusivae in the Constitution Commissum Nobis (20/01/1904)"

Wherefore in virtue of holy obedience, under threat of the Divine judgment, and pain of excommunication latae sententiae… we prohibit the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, all and single, and likewise the Secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals, and all others who take part in the conclave, to receive even under the form of a simple desire the office of proposing the veto in whatever manner, either by writing or by word of mouth… And it is our will that this prohibition be extended… to all intercessions, etc… by which the lay powers endeavour to intrude themselves in the election of a pontiff… Let no man infringe this our inhibition… under pain of incurring the indignation of God Almighty and of his Apostles, Sts. Peter and Paul.

Since then the cardinals in conclave have been enjoined to take this oath: "we shall never in any way accept, under any pretext, from any civil power whatever, the office of proposing a veto of exclusion even under the form of a mere desire… and we shall never lend favour to any intervention, or intercession, or any other method whatever, by which the lay powers of any grade or order may wish to interfere in the election of a pontiff".

No power has openly attempted to exercise the right since 1903. France had become a Republic in 1870. After World War I, there was no German Empire and no Austrian Empire. Spain became a Republic, though it finally returned to monarchy. Generalissimo Francisco Franco (El Caudillo), it is said, attempted to interfere the Conclave of 1963, by sending the College of Cardinals some "advice" through Cardinal Arcadio Larraona.[2]

See also


  1. Burkle-Young 2000, p. 34.
  2. Il Messagero June 13, 1963; Burkle-Young, 160


  • Catholic Encyclopedia, Right of Exclusion. (article by Johannes Baptist Sägmüller, 1909).
  • Burkle-Young, Francis A. (2000), Papal Elections in the Age of Transition, 1878-1922, Lexington Books, retrieved 2012-07-15 .
  • Ludwig Wahrmund, Das Ausschliessungs-recht (jus exclusivae) der katholischen Staaten Österreich, Frankreich und Spanien bei den Papstwahlen (Wien: Holder 1888).
  • Ludwig Wahrmund, "Beiträge zur Geschichte des Exclusionsrechtes bei den Papstwahlen aus römischen Archiven," Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, philosophisch-historische Klasse, Band CCXXII, xiii (Wien 1890).
  • J. B. Sägmüller, Die Papstwahlbullen und das staatliche Recht der Exklusive (Tuebingen: H. Laupp 1892).
  • Ludwig Wahrmund, "Die Bulle „Aeterni Patris Filius” und der staatliche Einfluss auf die Papstwahlen," Archiv für katholisches Kirchenrecht 72 (Mainz 1894) 201-334.
  • Ludwig Wahrmund, Zur Geschiste des exclusionrechtes bei den Papstwahlen im 18 Jahrhundert. Neue Beitrage aus römischen Archiven ( Mainz 1892).
  • William J. Hegarty, "The Lay Veto," American Catholic Quarterly Review 37 (1912), pp. 419-439.
  • Herbert Plock, Das "Jus exclusivae" der Staaten bei der Papstwahl und sein Verbotdurch die päpstliche Bulle "Commissum nobis" (Gottingen: Druck von L. Hofer, 1910).
  • Peter Frei, Die Papstwahl des Jahres 1903: unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des österreichisch-ungarischen Vetos (Bern and Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang, 1977).