Mercoledì, 17 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Conclave to elect new pope starts Tuesday, March 12

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)

Vatican City, March 8 - The conclave to elect the
next pope will start Tuesday, March 12, the Vatican announced
Friday.
"The eighth General Congregation of the College of
Cardinals has decided that the Conclave for the election of the
Pope will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013," said a statement.
The conclave to elect the 266th pontiff follows the
shocking resignation of Benedict XVI, who on February 28 became
the first pope to abdicate in 600 years.
Next week on Tuesday morning, cardinals will celebrate a
pre-conclave mass known as the pro eligendo Summo Pontefice
asking God to enlighten them.
That afternoon, they will enter the Sistine Chapel for the
start of the conclave.
Some analysts have predicted that a new pope may emerge by
the end of the week.
The cardinals meeting at the pre-conclave general
congregations since Monday had so far been in no rush to set a
date.
Benedict changed the rules for the conclave in his final
days as pontiff to make it possible for it to be held before the
15-20 days after the end of the previous papacy, given that he
had stepped down, not died, and there was no funeral to
organise.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the
cardinals wanted to make sure they were properly prepared before
making a decision that will shape the future of the Catholic
Church under Michelangelo's famous frescoes in the Sistine
Chapel.
The news of the conclave date came after the last of 115
cardinal electors, Jean Baptiste Pahm Minh Man of Vietnam,
arrived in Rome on Thursday for the general congregations, which
enable the cardinals to get to know each other better and share
ideas about what characteristics the next leader of the Catholic
Church should have.
Over 150 cardinals are taking part in the congregations,
but only 115 will participate in the conclave because only those
under 80 are eligible to vote.
The fact that the cardinals have taken their time about
setting a conclave date does not necessarily mean the election
itself will be long.
Some cardinals reportedly want to move quickly in order to
have a new pontiff installed before Palm Sunday, March 24, so he
could preside over the Holy Week ceremonies that lead up to
Easter.
Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, however, does not think
it will be a short conclave.
"It will not be short. A lot will depend on the first few
days, also because there is not yet a clear choice on the
candidates," Wuerl told Turin newspaper La Stampa.
The next pope will have to win the votes of at least 77 of
the 155 cardinals taking part in the upcoming conclave, Lombardi
said Friday.
Benedict XVI changed the rules of the conclave so that a
two-thirds majority is needed for a cardinal to become pontiff.
The 85-year-old only needed a simple majority of over half
of the cardinals to be elected at the 2005 conclave that took
place after John Paul II's death.
The figure needed to win a two-thirds majority has changed
slightly after the number of cardinal electors dropped from 117
when two pulled out.
Lombardi said Friday that the cardinals had accepted the
withdrawal of Indonesian Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja and
British Cardinal Keith O'Brien.
Darmaatmadja, 78, the archbishop emeritus of Jakarta, will
not attend due to poor health.
O'Brien resigned as archbishop of Scotland after admitting
to inappropriate sexual conduct in the 1980s with a number of
seminarists.
Benedict, 85, stepped down after announcing on February 11
that he no longer had the mental and physical strength to lead
the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Work on preparing the Sistine Chapel for the conclave is
progressing well.
Journalists were shown a film of the preparation work at a
press conference on Thursday.
It featured workers blacking out the windows to the ancient
chapel to ensure secrecy and the installation of the chimney
stack through which the world will first come to know when a
pope has been elected, with white smoke coming out if one has,
black if not.

(photo: a collage of papal 'candidates')

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