ELECTIONS OF THE NEW POPE
After the political elections of a week ago, and after the resignation given by Ratzinger on 28 February, now it’s time for the nomination of the new Pope
Thus, after the Pope traveled by helicopter to reach Castel Sant’Angelo, the first encounters between the various cardinals began.
Before the Pope went away, the famous “Fisherman’s Ring“, the papal ring of Pope Benedict XVI that he wore, has been canceled. It is no longer expected its destruction, as tradition demanded until the death of John Paul II, the Apostolic Constitution drafted by John Paul II specifies that the ring can only be streaked. The person in charge of destroying the “Anulus Piscatoris” is the cardinal Camerlengo, who runs one of the most symbolic ceremonies of the Church with a silver hammer and a chisel, putting now a simply mark and the ring is then preserved in the Vatican archives.
The dismissed Pope can only bring away his personal effects, all the things closely related to his office must remain in the Vatican, including clothes as the camauro (cap of red velvet and ermine), the mozzetta (the skirt), the baleen (the liturgical vestment), any kind of miter and even the slippers.
In the meantime, however, the Vatican is not without government. In fact, according to the canon law’s norms, some figures can manage the ordinary administration of the Church of Rome. In the absence of the Pope only the secretary of state and heaads of department lose their tasks, while all the others remain in office. They have the task of guiding the transition and to monitor the election of his successor.
The Camerlengo is the most important figure after the Pope, because has the task of chairing the seat vacant until the new appointment. Currently he is the cardinal of bishops’ order who plays this role. His functions are varied, from verifies that the pope is actually died, to the removal of the Fisherman’s Ring, as well as the management of the Church’s daily affairs.
The Dean of the College of Cardinals is the president of the College of Cardinals who is responsible for convening the Conclave.
The Protodeacon is the title given to the cardinal deacon appointed for the longest time. He is responsible for announcing the new Pope
The Cardinal Archpriest of St. Peter is, finally, one of the four cardinals who remains in office after the death or resignation of the Pope.
The Conclave has already taken the first steps through the general congregations of the college, where cardinals dialogue and exchange viewpoints, and this eighth congregation decided that the Conclave for the election of the new Pope will begin Tuesday, March 12, 2013.
Everything is held in the strictest confidence. While assembled in conclave, a Latin word for “locked by key”, nobody knows what they say. We only know the rules. In order to vote, a cardinal must have less than 80 years.
As always, the Conclave will be held in the Sistine Chapel closed for the occasion, and in the afternoon of Tuesday, 12 the cardinals will go in, and probably the first vote and the resulting smoke by the chimney visible from St. Peter’s Square.
The first day of the conclave, the cardinals vote only once. In the case of black smoke (produced burning voting cards, notes and documents of the vote by adding a special substance that makes it black), in the following days they vote twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. 77 votes are needed to ascend to the throne of Peter, because they now are 115 cardinals to vote. A cardinal is elected Pope when he gets two-thirds of the votes. After the 34th polling, the ballot takes place between the two cardinals who got more preferences so far.
When a cardinal gets a qualified majority, the Cardinal Dean – presently the Archbishop Angelo Sodano – asks the newly elected whether he accepts and what is the name he intends take. After that, the vote cards are burnt in the stove that will produce white smoke (once wet straw was used, now a particular chemical). A cardinal may also be excommunicated unless he complies with the rules of the conclave.
To avoid any external influence, the cardinals are hosted in the close hospice of Santa Marta where they can not have any contact with the outside. There is no radio, TV or phone line.
The eyes of Catholics will be focused on the fireplace. When the smoke is white, the cardinal proto-deacon will look down from the balcony of St. Peter and officially will announce to the world:
“Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum! Habemus Papam! “