Giovedì, 20 Settembre 2018
ROME

Pope benedict, vatican officials striving for clean conclave

English
© ANSA

Rome, February 26 - Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican
officials are carefully scrutinizing security and their own
internal voting rules with the aiming of ensuring a conclave
without controversy.
As cardinals of the Catholic Church gather in Rome to elect
a successor to Benedict, who is retiring Thursday, officials are
working hard to avoid any criticism about the balloting process.
Security is being toughened up to ensure listening devices
are not planted inside the Sistine Chapel that could be used to
leak the cardinals' very private consultations before they
signal the results of their voting to the waiting world.
Other jamming devices are in place to prevent cardinals
from communicating with the outside world once inside the
Sistine Chapel and conclave begins - not even a random posting
on a Twitter account that might inadvertently say too much.
In addition to electronic sweeps to prevent leaks that
might compromise the vote, Pope Benedict has also been changing
the rules governing the conclave itself, to try to ensure a fair
but more speedy vote.
The pope laid out the new rules in a papal decree called
"motu proprio" in Latin, including a regulation that allows the
College of Cardinals to move up the date for the beginning of
the conclave to elect his successor.
Normally, a minimum of 15 days after the end of a papacy
has been required before a conclave could begin, a rule
developed because popes almost always die in office.
However, because Benedict announced on February 11 that he
would retire on February 28, he ruled Monday that such notice
has given cardinals from around the world enough time reach Rome
for the crucial vote.
"The cardinals will be permitted to bring forward the start
of the conclave, if they are all present," says the papal
decree.
A Vatican official noted that the pope did not set a new
timetable for cardinals but instead, opened up their options.
However, the conclave still must begin no more than 20 days
after the start of the "sede vacante" or vacant seat.
Still, the cardinals must wait for every one of their
colleagues - who must be under age 80 to be eligible to vote -
to arrive in Rome before they can then select the date for the
start of conclave.
A vote on the start date, say Vatican officials, will be
determined by a majority of 50% plus one.
Pope Benedict has also defined the exact penalty -
automatic excommunication - that would be levied against any
support staff working with the College of Cardinals who fails to
maintain absolute secrecy about the conclave proceedings.
The aides must also swear that they will not be a party to
any outside interference in the election process.
Under the old rules, the penalty for breaking the vow was
to be determined by the future pope.
The penalty remains unspecified for any cardinals caught
breaking the oath of secrecy.
The papal decree included several other minor changes and
clarifications, including the addition of the phrase "at least"
to a two-thirds majority when defining a valid election of a
pope.
These latest changes are the second time that Pope Benedict
amended the conclave rules that were established by his
predecessor Pope John Paul in 1996.
In 2007, Pope Benedict decreed that a pope is elected when
he obtains a two-thirds majority, even when the cardinals voting
in conclave hit an impasse.
This amendment has been seen as less flexible than what had
been used in the past, when cardinals merely needed a simple
majority to elect a new pope.
Despite the best efforts of the Vatican, the present
conclave is still marked by controversy - perhaps more than any
other in recent memory.
A major concern has been a string of sexual abuse scandals
and subsequent cover-ups that is striking cardinals and
threatening confidence in the Church.
In a very unusual move, one cardinal has recused himself
from the conclave.
On Monday, scandal-struck Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien
confirmed his immediate resignation and said he would not attend
conclave. He is facing allegations from other priests of
inappropriate behaviour.
As well, other cardinals have faced calls not to attend
conclave, including former Los Angeles archbishop Cardinal Roger
Mahony because of his alleged role protecting sexually abusive
priests.
Mahony, however, is already in Rome and has said he would
participate in the voting for the new pope.
With O’Brien’s decision to avoid conclave, as well as that
of an Indonesian cardinal who has said he is too ill to travel,
about 115 cardinals under age 80 are expected to vote in the
conclave.

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