Conclave Begins Tuesday

Conclave Begin Tuesday

Conclave to Begin Tuesday

After their Friday meetings, the 115 Cardinals eligible to elect the new Pope decided to begin the process on Tuesday March 12th.  Cardinals must be under the age of 80 to vote.

The Conclave will be held in the Sistine Chapel which has been modified to accommodate the process.  The Cardinals have been holding closed door meetings all week.  The American Cardinals had planned to hold a news conference on Wednesday, but was abruptly cancelled.  The Vatican decided to impose a media blackout throughout the process, in reaction to apparent leaks to the Italian media by someone inside the Holy City.

The plan is to have new Pope by Easter.

Italian newspapers have speculated that the aim of the blackout was to silence American cardinals, who have been vocal about allegations of corruption and dysfunction within the Curia, the central administration of the Catholic Church.

Tuesday the Cardinals will attend mass together, and then enter the Chapel where they will remain behind sealed doors until they have decided on a new Pope.  The Cardinals must reach a two thirds “supermajority”.  When a candidate is selected, he can choose to accept or decline.  The first day may or may not produce a vote.  From that day forward, they will take two votes in the morning and two in the afternoon.  They will vote, count the tally, and continue to vote until the results meet the definition of the supermajority.  At the end of each day if they have not reached their goal, they spend the evening at Domus Sanctae Marthae, and edifice built for just such an occasion.

After the votes are counted, they are placed in a small furnace and burned.  The smoke can be seen on Vatican grounds.  When they have accomplished their goal, a chemical is added to change the smoke from black to white announcing that the Church has a new Pope.

After the newly-elected pope accepts his election, the Cardinal Dean asks him about his papal name, saying in Latin: “Quo nomine vis vocari? (By what name do you wish to be called?)” After the papal name is chosen, the officials are readmitted to the conclave, and the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies writes a document recording the acceptance and the new name of the pope.

Then the newly elected Pope enters a small room next to the Sistine Chapel called the “Room of Tears”.  He dresses himself from one of the three sizes of white cassocks available.  When he is finished, the senior Cardinal Deacon (the Cardinal Protodeacon) appears at the main balcony of the basilica’s façade to proclaim the new pope in Latin.  The new pope then gives his first apostolic blessing, Urbi et Orbi, to the city of Rome and to the world.

The Cardinals have given no indication if they believe the process will be accomplished quickly or prolonged.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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