Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018

Electing a new pope, the conclave


Vatican City, March 11 - The conclave is the
group of cardinal electors who normally meet between 15 and 20
days after the pope's death to decide his successor.
This time the conclave has been brought forward because
Benedict XVI did not die but abdicated.
The College of Cardinals fixes the starting date
for the conclave, in this case March 12, which takes place
inside the Sistine Chapel. The participating cardinals must be
under 80 years old on the day before the pope's death. An
official maximum of 120 cardinals can participate in the
This time there are 115 cardinal-electors, making the
required two-thirds majority 77.
Members live in a 105-room Vatican residence during the
conclave, during which period they have no contact with the
outside world. They are allowed no mobile phones, newspapers,
television, messages or letters, and are regular sweeps of all
relevant areas for listening devices.
Although officially restricted to the electing
cardinals, a number of other individuals are permitted in the
conclave. These include nurses for infirm cardinals, doctors,
priests to hear confessions in different languages,
individuals for preparing meals and housekeeping and several
Vatican officials tasked with scrutinizing the vote.
All are sworn to perpetual secrecy regarding anything
they learn concerning the election of the pope.
The conclave requires a two-thirds majority to elect a
pope. After an afternoon vote held on the first day, four
votes take place daily, two in the morning and two in the
After each vote, the ballot papers are burned. If no
pope has been agreed chemicals are added to the fire to
produce black smoke.
White smoke indicates that a new pontiff has been
Once elected, the new pope must officially accept the
post and state the name by which he wishes to be known.
He then goes to the Room of Tears, a small room next to
the Sistine Chapel, where he finds the white papal robes in
three different sizes.
He dons the appropriate robes and returns to the
conclave, where the "Camerlengo" or Chamberlain places the
Fisherman's Ring on his finger and each cardinal pays homage.
Next, the senior Cardinal Deacon appears at the main
balcony of the basilica's facade to proclaim the new pope,
who then gives his first apostolic blessing, Urbi et Orbi
("to the City [Rome] and to the World").

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