De iure condendo: a ‘Lex Propria’ for the College of Cardinals. The Apostolic Constitution
Pastor Bonus, in the articles 22 and 23 states the possibility that ‘‘by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff,
the cardinals in charge of dicasteries meet together several times a year to examine more important
questions, coordinate their activities, so that they may be able to exchange information and take
counsel’’ so as to see that ‘‘more serious business of a general character can be usefully dealt with, if
the Supreme Pontiff so decides, by the cardinals assembled in plenary consistory according to proper
law’’. The above-quoted ‘Lex Propria’ does not, however, exist yet. This paper of ours proposes first
to give a short and necessarily partial coverage of the history of the College of Cardinals. After this,
we wish to relate the decisive moments and the reasons that cyclically have brought about the College’s
structural revision. As a consequence, the revision fits in with the hierarchical Church structure.
Then, our paper means to illustrate the current debate in the College, above all about the hypothesis
explicitly foreseen in the Pastor Bonus Apostolic Constitution and discussed in the last century codifying
proceedings. This is the hypothesis of a Lex Propria of the College or, at least, for its collegiate
manifestation, which is the Consistory.