Sunday, March 10, 2013

Papal resignation and conclave - 12

Today's photos:


Today is the Sunday, two days before the conclave begins. Many of the cardinals are celebrating mass today in their titular churches. This picture, taken this morning, shows Cardinal George of Chicago as he is being given a tour of his church, San Bartolomeo all'Isola (St. Bartholomew on the Island) by the rector of the basilica, don Angelo Romano.


An aerial view of the Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City where the cardinals will live during the conclave.


The rooms in the Domus are simple but functional.


Workers bring in the stoves which will be used to burn the ballots and communicate the result of the voting to the crowd in St. Peter's Square.


The chimney from which the famous smoke signals issue forth is being installed by members of the Vatican City Fire Department. Yes, the Vatican has its own fire department. The firefighters wear those interesting silver helmets.


An election poster in front of the pope's cathedral church, St. John Lateran, will probably have the opposite effect of what this cardinal's supporters had in mind!


Papal resignation and conclave – 12


The cardinal electors


So who are these 115 men who on Tuesday will put in motion the mechanism which will conclude with the election of the next pope? The statistics are interesting. Over half the cardinals are Europeans; they outnumber the "rest of the world" 60-55. The country with the greatest number of electors is Italy with 28; the United States is a distant second with 11. The majority of the cardinals were created by Benedict XVI – 67; the other 48 by John Paul II. Religious orders are represented in the Sacred College by 18 cardinals; the orders with more than one are: Salesians – 4, Franciscans – 3 and Dominicans – 2. The average age of the cardinal electors is 71.5 years.


How the electors vote


Voting in the pre-conclave General Congregations was carried out electronically. Each cardinal received a telecomando (remote control) to record his vote on any given issue. The keys on the control were in Latin: Placet, Yes; Non placet, No; (Placet) iuxta modum, Yes, with reservation (whatever that means!); Abstineo, Abstain; Confirmo, Send; Deleo, Canceal.


No electronic voting in the Sistine Chapel, however. Each elector is given a rectangular-shaped ballot on which are printed the words: Eligo in Summum Pontificem, I elect as Supreme Pontiff. This is followed by a space where the cardinal writes in, legibly, the name of the cardinal for whom he is voting. Each cardinal brings his ballot, held up in his hand so that all can see, to a table and deposits it in an urn. When all the electors have voted, a cardinal chosen for this purpose shakes the urn in order to mix the ballots. The ballots are then counted to make sure the number matches the number of electors (115). If the numbers do NOT match, those ballots are burned immediately and that vote is declared null and void. If the numbers match, the votes are counted one by one and each name is read aloud for all to hear. A hole is then punched in the ballot even with the word Eligo. A thread is then passed through the hole of all the ballots to hold them together, so as to be able to burn them all at one time. The ballots, however, are not burned after each vote, but after every two votes. So with two votes in the morning and two in the afternoon, the famous black smoke signals will be sent up twice a day: after the second ballot in the morning and after the second ballot in the afternoon. The white smoke signal, indicating that a pope has been elected, will go up immediately after the vote in which someone has a two-thirds majority.


Where the electors live during the conclave


Prior to the conclave of 2005, the cardinals in conclave lived in make-shift cells set up in the Apostolic Palace in the area of the Sistine Chapel. This was real Spartan living! John Paul II changed that system with the construction of the residence Domus Sanctae Marthae (The house of St. Martha) within Vatican City. The residence has approximately 129 rooms available, each with private bath. Most are two-room suits, but about thirty of them (I've seen different numbers mentioned) are single rooms. So who gets a suite and who gets a single room? No, it's not first-come-first-served! It's all decided by the drawing of lots, so as to be totally impartial.


One of the suites will be left vacant. This is where the newly elected pope will stay until his apartment in the Apostolic Palace is ready. Remember, between the time of the departure of Benedict XVI and the election of the new pope, that apartment has been sealed. So some housekeeping, re-furnishing, etc. has to be done before the new man can move in.


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