by Anura Guruge
This problem is unlikely to happen now with us invariably having close to 100 cardinal electors, if not more — such as the current 114. If anything our concern has been how to equitably resolve the problem if there were to be a conclave and we had more than 120 electors — as was the case after the November 20, 2010 cardinal creating consistory.
But, there was a chance, particularly in the 13th century that there could have been a conclave with no cardinals willing to participate. In 1277 only seven cardinals participated in the conclave that elected John XXI (#188).
The whole issue of the limit on the size of a conclave, at either end, has always intrigued me. I finally got to write about it when I was creating ‘The Next Pope 2011.‘ In the new ‘Appendix F, Sede Vacante Minutiae,’ I devoted 3.5 pages to this topic. I have never seen anybody else discuss this topic, especially the ‘quorum’ aspect.