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  April 11, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 7Oakland, CA

articles list

How will the next pope be chosen?

Speculation abounds on who will succeed John Paul

Bishop Cummins testifies at sex abuse trial

Abuse victims asked to answer survey

Lay missioners aid desperate refugees in Thailand

U.S. Catholic bishops launch campaign to end death penalty

CRS responds to Indonesian earthquake disaster

Witnessing to religious life

Papal-blessed monstrance coming to Concord to encourage prayers for religious vocations

Communities offer discernment retreats

Presbyteral Council



The Oakland Diocese remembers and grieves

The remarkable life of Pope John Paul II

A man of prayer, a prophet for peace

Pope leaves Church a Theology of Apology

Some landmarks of the papacy of John Paul II

Pope saw his final pain as public suffering

With five books, Pope left legacy as popular author

Reaching out to all the world























placeholder How will the next pope be chosen

VATICAN CITY—The procedure to be followed in the election a new pope evolved over many centuries and was revised most recently by John Paul II in the 1996 apostolic constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” (The Shepherd of the Lord’s Whole Flock).

Until the conclave to elect the new pope opens on April 18, the College of Cardinals meets daily in a “general congregation” presided over by the dean of the college, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a German who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith. Attendance is optional for cardinals age 80 and over, and they do not vote in the conclave.

The conclave opens
The word conclave is derived from the Latin cum, meaning “with,” and clave, meaning “key.” It was first used by Pope Gregory X in July 1274 in a proclamation regulating the procedure for electing a pope in a meeting place that can be securely locked.

The conclave should open 15 days after the death of a pope but can be postponed to 20 days if circumstances warrant. All cardinals under the age of 80 are eligible to vote for the new pope. Currently, 117 are eligible.

The cardinals live in seclusion in the recently constructed Domus Sanctae Marthae inside the Vatican walls. They meet to vote under Michelangelo’s famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, which is next door to St. Peter’s Basilica.

Once the conclave begins, a cardinal-elector may leave only because of illness or other serious reason accepted by a majority of his fellow cardinals. The doctors, nurses, confessors, masters of liturgical ceremonies, sacristans and various priest assistants and housekeeping and catering staff who attend to the cardinals’ needs must swear never to tell anything they learn about the election.

The conclave opens in the morning with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. In the afternoon, the cardinals, vested in scarlet robes, walk in procession in order of seniority from the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace to the Sistine Chapel to the chant of the ninth century Latin hymn, “Veni, Creator Spiritus.”

The cardinals take an oath of secrecy. They swear to accept no interference in the election and to observe the rules set down in the Apostolic Constitution on the election of a pope.
They also swear that whomever they elect will carry out the mission of pastor of the universal Church and will “affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and liberty of the Holy See.”

The master of pontifical liturgical celebrations then orders all those not taking part or assisting in the conclave to leave, using the Latin phrase “Extra omnes” (All out). Assisted by the undersecretary of state, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, he closes off the cardinals’ hotel and Sistine Chapel.

Following a meditation by a priest, whom the cardinals have chosen earlier, all those remaining who are not cardinals leave the chapel. Voting can begin immediately, or the next morning.

The voting begins
Each day of balloting starts with the selection of three scrutineers who count the votes, three infirmarians who collect the ballots of any cardinals too ill to go to the chapel, and three revisers who review the ballot count.

Elaborate precautions are taken to ensure that there is no fraud of any kind.

Each cardinal, disguising his handwriting, enters the name of his choice on a two-inch wide rectangular card on which is printed at the top the Latin phrase “Eligo in Summum Pontificem” (I elect as Supreme Pontiff). He folds the ballot lengthwise to conceal the name.

The cardinals walk to the altar one-by-one in order of precedence, holding the ballot aloft. Each prelate kneels briefly to pray and on rising declares, “I call as my witness Christ the Lord, who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one whom, before God, I think should be elected.”

He then places the ballot on a paten, or plate, which covers a receptacle, usually a chalice. Lifting the paten, he allows the ballot to drop into the receptacle. The cardinal infirmarians leave the chapel carrying a locked box with a slit top to collect the ballots of sick cardinals.

Counting the ballots
Once all the cardinals have voted, the first scrutineer mixes the ballots by shaking the receptacle. The third scrutineer counts the still-folded ballots. If the number of ballots is not the same as the number of electors the ballots are burned, and the cardinals immediately vote again.

If the number of ballots is correct, the scrutineers begin the count seated at a table in front of the altar. The first scrutineer unfolds each ballot, silently notes the name written on it and hands it to the second scrutineer, who does the same and hands it on to the third, who reads the name aloud and records it. The cardinals may also keep a tally.

At the end of the count, the scrutineers announce the total number of votes each candidate has received. Any candidate who has received two-thirds of the votes of those present is elected pope.

After the results are announced the third scrutineer threads the ballots together with a needle, which he inserts through the word “eligo.” He ties a knot at each end and turns the bundle of ballots and the scrutineers’ records over to the three revisers to be checked.

If all is in order the scrutineers, secretary of the conclave and masters of ceremonies, who have been readmitted to the chapel, burn the ballots and all notes taken by the scrutineers and cardinals in a special stove.

According to tradition, the cardinals signal the results of voting by adding material to color smoke from the burning ballots, which appears above the Sistine Chapel, black for no decision and white for a new pope. This year, for the first time, they will accompany the white smoke with ringing bells, to remove any doubt about the results.

The only remaining record of the voting is a document prepared at the end of the election giving the results of each session. The document is approved by the assisting cardinals, given to the new pope and then placed in a sealed envelope in the archives to be opened only with papal permission.

Breaking an impasse
If the voting is inconclusive, the cardinals may continue to cast ballots twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. If they still have not elected a pope after three days, voting is suspended for a day of prayer, informal discussion and a brief spiritual exhortation.

If the impasse continues, there are seven more votes, a suspension and exhortation, followed by another seven votes, a suspension and another exhortation and a final seven votes.

John Paul’s new rules provide that at this point, which is about 12 days after voting started, the requirement for a two-thirds majority may be waived, and the pope may be chosen by an absolute majority. The cardinals also have the option of limiting the candidates to the two who received the largest number of votes in the last round.

The new pope
Once the election is decided, the cardinal dean asks the winner, “Do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff?”

It has been many centuries since the answer was no; St. Philip Benizi, for one, fled a conclave in 1271 and hid until another candidate was chosen. St. Charles Borromeo declined in the 16th century and Cardinal Robert Bellarmine declined in 1621.

When the candidate says “yes” he is ordained a bishop by the cardinal dean, if not already a bishop, and immediately takes office.

The new pope is asked by what name he wants to be called. For the past 1,000 years, it has been the custom for the pope to change his name upon being elected. The last to keep his own name was Marcellus II, elected in 1555.

The cardinals make an act of homage and obedience to the new pope and join in a prayer of thanksgiving.

A cardinal then steps out onto the central balcony of St. Peter’s Square. He pronounces a Latin formula including the phrase, “Habemus papam (We have a pope)” and announces the name the new pontiff has taken. The pope appears and gives his first “urbi et orbi” blessing to the city of Rome and the world.

The cardinals who will elect the next pope attend a solemn Mass, April 3, to mourn the death of Pope John Paul II.






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