Pope Francis meets participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Feb. 18, 2022 / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Apr 17, 2023 / 11:55 am (CNA).

On Monday Pope Francis introduced a limit of 80 years of age for retired bishops and patriarchs in the Eastern Catholic Churches to take part in decisional voting.

In the motu proprio Iam Pridem, issued April 17, the pope modified four articles in the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches, which regularly meet in synods of bishops to make decisions and elect patriarchs.

The changes exclude retired bishops and patriarchs over the age of 80 from participating in deliberative voting.

In his introduction, Pope Francis said that “for some time now” the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches has been hearing from patriarchs, major archbishops, and bishops in the Eastern Churches about difficulties regarding the number of retired bishops who participate in their meetings “with an active voice.”

He said these leaders had asked the pope to change the norms to exclude retired bishops over the age of 80 from having a deliberative vote.

According to the changes, those leaders who are over 80 but actively in office may still participate in the voting.

There are 23 Eastern Catholic Churches that are “sui iuris,” or self-governing, and in full communion with Rome.