Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Papal resignation and conclave - 13

Today's photos:


The cardinals as they processed into the Sistine Chapel this afternoon.


Here the electors line up a few at a time in the center of the chapel to recite their individual oath of secrecy.


The dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, as he gives the homily this morning at the mass Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice.


Papal resignation and conclave – 13


Conclave – Day 1


The first day of the papal conclave of 2013 is history. The cardinal electors entered into "conclave mode" at 7:30 this morning when they moved into their temporary living quarters in the Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City. From this time on they will have no contact with the outside world. After getting settled in, the first activity was the mass Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice (for electing the Roman pontiff) at 10:00 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica. I watched it live on TV, as I hope many of you did, because it was a very beautiful and colorful service. After lunch the electors gathered in the Cappella Paolina in the Apostolic Palace for a moment of prayer and then at 4:30 p.m. walked in solemn procession to the Sistine Chapel, also seen on live TV.


The vow of secrecy was pronounced in Latin, read collectively, in unison by all 115 electors. Following the collective reading, each individual cardinal walked to the center of the chapel where a table held an open book of the Gospels. Here, every single cardinal, pronouncing his name, and touching the book of the Gospels with his right hand, swore to uphold the oath which had just been recited in unison. It was extremely interesting for me to hear the voices of each cardinal recite the Latin oath with the accent of his native tongue. Here are the words recited by each cardinal, his "Amen", as it were, to the oath.


Ego (first name) Cardinalis (last name) spondeo, voveo ac iuro, sic me Deus adiuvet et haec sancta Dei evangelia quae manu mea tango. I (first name) Cardinal (last name) do so promise, pledge and swear, so help me God and these holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hand.


Following the oaths, the order Extra omnes (Everybody out) was given by one of the Masters of Ceremonies (NOT one of the cardinals). The doors were then closed and locked and the procedure leading to the first vote began. As expected, the vote produced black smoke to indicate no one elected. The cardinals were expected to be back at the Domus for dinner between 7:30 and 8:00. Tomorrow will be the first full day of conclave with four votes scheduled.


The weather in Rome on this first day of conclave was not very cooperative. It was cold and rainy, and there was even a strong hail storm in the afternoon.


We don't know, of course, how the voting went in this first ballot, only that no one received the 77 votes necessary for election. However, persons more informed than me have given estimates, based on the known supporters of the front runners. The Italian Scola was expected to receive about 30 votes and the Brazilian Scherer about 20 votes. Both of these are a far cry from the 50 votes Ratzinger is believed to have received on the first ballot in 2005. That was enough to convince many undecided voters  to shift their support to him in the following ballots, electing him on the fourth vote. The two front runners this time around don't seem to have that kind of clout, so it may take another two or three ballots to single out the man who will attract those undecided voters. My own feeling is that the new pope will be elected during one of the two morning votes on Thursday, which would be the sixth or seventh ballot. So there I am, out on a limb!


With all the talk of votes and front runners, we have a tendency to overlook what we believers accept as the work of the Holy Spirit in the election of the pope. I like the answer I heard from one of the cardinal electors when he was asked what the role of the Holy Spirit was in all this: "Yes", he said, "it is the Holy Spirit who chooses the new pope, but it is up to the cardinals, with their questions, discussions and probing, to determine just who it is that the Holy Spirit has chosen".


Conclave curiosities


Breaking the age barrier


We all know that cardinals who have reached the age of 80 are not allowed to vote for the new pope. However, there is at least one voting cardinal who IS 80 years old: Walter Kasper of Germany. The age regulation states that if you reach the age of 80 BEFORE the beginning of the Sede Vacante, you cannot participate in the voting. This time the Sede Vacante began on March 1, when Benedict's resignation took effect. Cardinal Casper on that date was still 79 years old. He celebrated his 80th birthday DURING the Sede Vacante, on March 4, so he remains a cardinal elector despite his 80 years.


Non-electors in the conclave


Besides the 115 electors, there are about ninety other people involved in one way or the other in the conclave. They include: elevator operators, priests available to hear confessions, nurses, two doctors, florists, several masters of ceremonies, nuns and priests as sacristans, cooks, table waiters, housekeepers, Vatican police, Swiss Guards, and the drivers of the buses which shuttle the cardinals between the Sistine Chapel and Domus Sanctae Marthae. Many of these people will have close contact with the cardinals during the performance of their duties. All of them have taken the oath of secrecy, just like the cardinals, swearing not to reveal anything they may see or hear in the course of the conclave. The penalty for violating the oath is immediate and automatic excommunication. (That's excommunication, not execution)!


What happens after 34 votes with no one elected?


After 34 unsuccessful votes a run-off election is held between the two cardinals who received the most number of votes on the preceding ballot. So beginning with the 35th ballot everyone must vote for one of those two . . . EXCEPT the two run-off candidates themselves who are not allowed to participate in any further voting. It is highly unlikely that the conclave will go on for 34 ballots (eight days), but the rule is there just in case.


Who makes the famous Habemus Papam announcement?


Within an hour of the famous white smoke which indicates a successful election, the new pope will be introduced from the center balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Loggia delle Benedizioni. This honor falls to the cardinal protodiacono, the senior cardinal-deacon, the Frenchman Jean-Louis Tauran. (The cardinals are traditionally divided into three ranks: deacons, priests and bishops. In practice those divisions don't exist anymore, since all the cardinals are bishops. However, the tradition of using the terms, deacon, priest and bishop, is still in practice).  For the benefit of my former students, here are the exact Latin words used to make the announcement, a formula which has been pronounced for centuries. Listen as you witness the moment on your television screens because the Latin sounds very noble and elegant . . . even with a French accent! I am using Ratzinger's name in the places where we will hear the new pope's name.


Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus papam! Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum dominum, dominum Josephum, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger, qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedicti Decimi Sexti.


I announce to you a great joy (pause for applause), we have a pope (more applause)! The most eminent and most revered lord, lord Joseph, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Ratzinger (much more applause), who has chosen for himself the name of Benedict XVI (extensive applause).


The dean is "out".


The celebrant of the mass this morning was the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano. He is the cardinal responsible for the administration of the everyday church affairs during the Sede Vacante. A very important position, indeed! This time around, however, the dean was forced to exit the chapel at the Extra omnes because he is 85 years old. (We should all look and sound as healthy as he does at that age! But even a healthy dean has to abide by the rules!).


Post a Comment