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How to pick a new pope

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=2&ObjectID=10118256 How to pick a new pope 02.04.05 The gravity of the Pope s latest medical bulletins have inevitably
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2005

      How to pick a new pope


      The gravity of the Pope's latest medical bulletins
      have inevitably turned attention to the nature of the
      process by which his successor is chosen, an ancient
      and convoluted mechanism.

      The College of Cardinals elects the new Pope in
      conclave, which is the process of sequestering the
      voting members of the college in Vatican City so that
      they have no contact with the outside world. The word
      "conclave" comes from the Latin phrase "cum clavis",
      meaning "with key".

      The term is suitable since the cardinals are locked
      inside the Sistine Chapel in the Apostolic Palace
      during the voting.

      A conclave begins no earlier than 15 days and no later
      than 20 days after the Pope's death.

      Cardinals participating in conclave stay in St
      Martha's House, a hospice inside the Vatican that has
      130 rooms. Arrangements are made to ensure that the
      cardinals are not approached as they are transported
      between St Martha's and the Sistine Chapel.

      Pope John Paul II himself described the complex
      procedures that will be used to elect the 265th
      successor to St Peter in Universi Dominici Gregis
      (UDG), an Apostolic Constitution issued by the Pope in
      1996. It is an accepted practice for popes to publish
      the norms that regulate the election of their
      successors, and they often make small adjustments to
      the procedures.

      John Paul II explained that these changes are made
      "with the intention of responding to the needs of the
      particular historical moment".

      According to the UDG, the current rules for electing a
      new pope are:

      The maximum number of electors from the College of
      Cardinals is 120. The college is currently composed of
      194 cardinals.

      Any cardinal who turns 80 before the day the Papacy is
      vacated, either by death or resignation, cannot take
      part in the election.

      Currently, 135 cardinals are eligible to vote under
      this rule (15 of those 135 would be disqualified from
      the vote because the limit is 120).

      A two-thirds-plus-one majority is required to elect a

      Two ballots each are held in the morning and
      afternoon, for a total of four a day.

      If a new pope is not selected after 12 to 13 days, the
      cardinals may choose to impose a majority vote, which
      would allow selection of a new pope by a simple

      Each rectangular ballot is inscribed at the top with
      the words Eligo in Summum Pontificem, meaning "I elect
      as supreme pontiff". Below these words, each cardinal
      writes down the name of the person he chooses as the

      The vote is done in secret with paper and pen.

      The voting cardinal then folds the ballot twice, holds
      it in the air, and carries it the chapel's altar.

      The cardinal places the ballot on a plate that sits
      atop the ballot receptacle and uses the plate to drop
      the ballot into the receptacle.

      Three scrutineers, who are selected by all of the
      cardinals, are charged with counting the ballots. Once
      the ballots are collected, the scrutineers count the
      ballots to determine if everyone has voted. If the
      number of ballots doesn't match the number of
      electors, the ballots are immediately burned and
      another vote is taken.

      The steps for the vote-tallying procedure are:

      The first scrutineer takes a ballot, notes the name on
      it, and passes it to the next scrutineer.

      The second scrutineer notes the name and passes it to
      the third scrutineer.

      The third scrutineer reads aloud the name on the
      ballot, pierces the ballot with a needle through the
      word Eligo at the top of the ballot, and slides the
      ballot on to a string of thread.

      Once all ballots are read, the scrutineers write down
      the official count on a separate sheet of paper.

      The third scrutineer ties the ends of the thread on
      which the ballots are placed in a knot to preserve the

      The ballots are placed in a receptacle.

      After each vote, the ballots and any notes regarding
      them are burned. Smoke from the burning of the ballots
      appears over the Vatican Palace.

      If no pope has been chosen, a chemical is applied to
      the ballots to create black smoke when burned. White
      smoke signals that the Pope has been elected.

      The newly elected Pope remains for life, or until he

      Top contenders diverse group

      Papal scholar John-Peter Pham has picked five leading
      contenders to succeed Pope John Paul II.

      He believes the next Pope must have good health, be
      prepared to travel, have intellectual clout, and be
      able to speak to the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
      Hence the need to be multilingual - ideally in
      Italian, Latin, English, Spanish, French and German.
      Plus he needs to have pastoral experience. His top
      five are:

      Dionigi Tettamanzi, 71, Italy - the Archbishop of
      Milan, is the frontrunner. Tettamanzi is a pastor and
      an intellectual and as someone close to John Paul II,
      insiders say he he represents continuity, but with new
      ideas. Tettamanzi can count on the support of Cardinal
      Giovanni Battista Re, who heads the bishops'
      congregation, and Camillo Ruini, head of the Italian
      Church. He's also close to Opus Dei, the
      ultraconservative Catholic group.

      Francis Arinze 73, Nigeria - Archbishop Emeritus of
      Onitsha, Nigeria, pro-president of the secretariat for
      Non-Christians. In 2002, after serving as the head of
      the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, he
      was named the head of the Congregation for Divine
      Worship and Discipline of Sacraments. Arinze is a
      conservative who takes a hardline position on abortion
      and contraception and denounces homosexuality.

      Christoph Schonborn, 60, Austria - Archbishop of
      Vienna. Schonborn is titled aristocracy related to
      every European royal family. Also a brilliant
      theologian with sensitivity to the Christian East,
      orthodoxy and Eastern bloc Catholics.

      But his relatively young age and that he comes from
      the German camp could work against him.

      Angelo Scola, 64, Italy - the Patriarch of Venice. A
      scholar and a moderate, Scola is likely to have the
      backing of Opus Dei.

      Severino Poletto, 72, Italy - the Archbishop of Turin.
      Poletto was named Bishop of Asti last year. His
      prospects derive from his spiritual and pastoral
      qualities and his links to Vatican secretary of state,
      Angelo Sodano.

      But an article in BusinessWeek - Why The Next Pope May
      Be A Surprise - puts forward a number of other
      possibilities. Mumbai's archbishop Ivan Dias, a friend
      of Mother Teresa, is seen as an outside possibility.
      He does does, however, speak 16 languages.

      Honduran Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, speaks Spanish,
      near-perfect English and Italian, and decent French,
      Portuguese, German and Greek. He teamed with Bono to
      campaign against third world debt and is known for his
      work with the poor. Latin Americans make up more than
      50 per cent of all Catholics.

      Another Third World favourite is Cardinal Claudio
      Hummes of Brazil, a moderate who has spoken out on
      human rights issues.

      Seventy-one-year-old Cardinal Godfried Danneels of
      Brussels is also a possibility, but he is thought too

      Joseph Ratzinger 78, is seen as a possible
      transitional Pope - a German who has been John Paul's
      enforcer on Church doctrine and is a social conservative.
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