November 27, 1970, Page 17 The New York Times Archives

ROME, Nov. 26 — Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, one of the highest‐ranking and most con servative members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, has vehemently criticized Pope Paul's decree barring Cardinals aged 80 or more from electing Popes.

“It is an act committed in contempt of tradition that is centuries old,” the 80‐year‐old” prelate said in an interview, published today by the Rome newspaper II Messaggero.

“Citing advanced age as the reason for such grave action does not seeem justified,” he maintained in a rare public criticism of a papal action by a prince of the church. “Over the centuries, in fact, it has been immutably held that, in deed, advanced age guaranteed to the church counselors rich in experience, certainty, prudence, and doctrine.”

Paul VI, in a decree issued four days before his departure for Asia and due to take effect next Jan. 1, eliminated 25 Car dinals from conclaves to elect the head of the church. He also ordered that they drop active functions as members of the Vatican administration or of the church's permanent institu tions.

The reform has been inter preted here as improving the chances that Pope Paul's suc cessor will be a non‐Italian and, perhaps, an ecclesiastical lib eral. The decree, entitled “The Increasing Burden of Age,” has the effect of barring 14 Italian Cardinals of the Sacred Col lege's membership of 127. The majority of the 25 Cardinals are also considered tradition alists.

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In a conversation with a Mes saggero reporter who is mar ried to his niece, Cardinal Ot taviani said the papal decree “by which I am pushed aside” contradicted the letter of praise and congratulation Pope Paul wrote him on his 80th birth day Oct. 29.

The Cardinal, who is nearly blind, said it would have been more appropriate for the Pope to continue the established practice of retiring his advisers individually for reasons of health “without throwing over board the bulk of his expert and gifted counselors.”

The Pope, who left this morn ing on his 10‐day, 30,000‐mile trip, is 73. Despite increasing rumors that he is in poor health and thinking of resigning, his personal physician pronounced him fully fit for the grueling effort.

Yesterday the Vatican denied a statement by Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, the 86‐year‐old dean of the Sacred College, that the Pontiff was visibly ill. The Car dinal went on the trip with the Pope.

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