What to expect at Conclave in unusual case of Pope Benedict stepping down from Vatican role
Waiting for the smoke from the top of the Sistine Chapel in Rome
The cardinals swear an oath of secrecy not to discuss the elections outside the Chapel and everyone else is ordered out in the Latin words “Extra omnes,” “Everybody out.” The doors of the Sistine Chapel and the Residence of the Cardinals are closed.
Inside, a meditation is given concerning the grave duty of the cardinals and they are exhorted to “only have God before your eyes.” The rest of the time is spent for prayer and voting in silence, there are no campaign speeches. Negotiations and arguments have to take place outside.
In the Chapel, which dates from the 15th Century, and under the ceiling adorned with Michelangelo's Last Judgement, the cardinals can cast their vote. There will be four ballots daily until a clear majority is found for one candidate.
It is severely frowned upon to seek the office of Pope and canvassing for it is severely prohibited, especially prior to a Pope dying. It is an office bestowed upon a person rather than their contesting for it. However an outsider could be elected pope and in theory it could be a lay person willing to be ordained a priest and bishop but the weight of tradition suggests it will be one of the cardinals gathered in the Sistine chapel. The last non cardinal was Pope Urban in 1378.
However, discussions prior to a ballot among cardinals do occur privately but public campaigning would be counter productive. Dinners are good vehicles for discussions. However, the best known cardinals tend to be the ones that work in the Vatican and meet other bishops, and cardinals when they come on business to Rome.
The ballot is secret and Pope John Paul II abolished two methods of election: by compromise or by common consent. Since 1179, a new Pope requires a two thirds majority. Now, after 33 ballots, a simple majority is enough. If there is no progress in choosing a candidate, a day of prayer is set aside. However, not since 1831 has an election lasted more than four days.
The ballot papers themselves are rectangular with “I elect as supreme pontiff” printed at the top and each cardinal prints or writes a name in a way that disguises his handwriting. One at a time they approach the altar with the folded ballot held up, he kneels and prays and then places the ballot in a silver and gilded bronze urn, much like a wok with a lid. Cardinals called ‘scrutineers’ count the ballots. After the ballots are read aloud they are placed on a thread and placed in another urn. They are then burnt.
Since 1903, white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel has signalled the election of a pope; black smoke signals another vote.
When a pope is finally elected, the cardinal dean asks him, “Do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff?” Rarely does anyone say no. St Philip Benize was offered it in 1271 and fled and hid until another candidate was chosen.
Sacristy of Tears
After the ‘yes’, he is led into the ‘Sacristy of Tears’ or commonly called ‘Room of Tears,’ a small room off the Sistine Chapel. It is here that the enormity of what has just happened hits the new Pope, though the tears may be of sorrow or joy. Traditionally they were said to be tears of humility as a Pope was following in the footsteps of St Peter; others would contend the tears were because essentially the Pope becomes a ‘prisoner’ of the Vatican and would be bowed down by the weight of the office.
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Everyone disregard my post that is unfinished. I hit enter by mistake, sorry.Spanish judge slams Ryanair’s sexist air hostess calendar
Chuck I didn't realize that you had a great sense of humor, that was to funny. I actually had to watch it two or three times before I came to my decisThe New York Times questions Ireland’s highly-praised economic recovery
Maybe the Times should question Obama's recovery.Bah! Humbug! The ten worst things about Christmas (PHOTOS)
And to you Chuck a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year. I have my New Year resolution already and that is to stop antagonizing you, enough is en