Page 13, 7th June 1963

7th June 1963
Page 13
Page 13, 7th June 1963 — The Conclave to elect a new Pope will open on June 19

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People: John
Locations: Rome


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The Conclave to elect a new Pope will open on June 19


As the Cardinals travel to Rome .

Pr F1F Church, and indeed the whole world. is plunged into sorrow at the death of Good Pope John. But the world does not stand still, and neither does the Church or her administration.

What happened when the Pope died? Who has charge of the funeral arrangements, who directs Church affairs between now and the naming of a suecessor to the throne of Peter ?

And, topmost in many people's minds : What happens now to the Second Vatican Council ?

1 he last question is easiest to answer. The Council is suspended until a new Pope decides whether or not it shall be reconvened. eanwhile, custom, ancient ritual, and recent laws, some of them written by Pope John himself. have established the procedure to be followed on the death of a pope and the election of a new Pontiff.

In charge of these processes is the Chamberlain or Camerlengo, of the Holy Roman Church. At present this is 83-year-old Cardinal Masella.

The Cardinal Chamberlain's job requires him to take immediate possession of the Holy See's properties and administer the temporal rights and goods of the Church.

It was he who on Monday officially verified the death of the Pope by visiting the scene of his death and receiving the report of the attending doctors. It was he who arranged for the Pope's body to be vested for the lying in State. It was he who received from the Papal Master of Ceremonies the symbols of papal power; the fisherman's ring, the lead seals, official paper for documents. All these arc now destroyed.

We are now in the period of Scde Vacante.

Last year (October, 1962) the Chamberlain had a new duty added to his responsibilities : A ruling from Pope John charged him with preventing any person taking photographs of the Pope as he was dying or after he was dead. Such photographs may be taken of a deceased Pontiff for reasons of proof or testimony, but only with the Chamberlain's express permission, and only if the Pope is dressed in his Pontifical Robes. This ruling was designed to avoid repetition of a performance similar to that of Pope Pius XII's personal physician, who photographed the Pope and passed the pietures to newspapers and magazines. Pope John's document also orders that the remains should he carried out of St. Peter's Basilica and taken to the crypt, instead of as before, when they were lowered in a rather undignified manner by crane into the space below the altar of Confession.

Senior Cardinals, the Archpriest of St. Peter's, the Cardinal Secre tary of State, some of the Canons of the Basilica, relatives of the deceased Pope and workers were to be the only people to accompany the coffin to the crypt.

The scaling of the three coffins was to be done privately instead of as before, when the body was placed in a casket and sealed ceremoniously in the presence of everyone.


Other provisions forbid anyone to occupy the private apartment of the deceased pope prior to the conclave, and provide for the execution of the will of a dead pope.

If a pope now leaves a will providing for the disposal of his personal belongings, letters and private papers, the executor chosen by him is to be free to follow his desires without accounting to the new Pope. • After verifying the death, it was the Cardinal Chamberlain who notified the Vicar General of Rome (Cardinal Micara, 83), who is charged with announcing the death to the people of Rome. The Diplomatic Corps was officially informed by the Secretary of State (Cardinal Cieognani) — an act which is the Secretary's last official job, his post lapsing on the death of the Pope.

Word was then sent off to all the 82 Cardinals now living to prepare to travel to Rome for the Conclave to elect a new Pope. Meanwhile. members of the Sacred College who are in Rome have been meeting to carry out instructions laid down by Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. These include :

Reading the complete text of the Constitution. after which each Cardinal took an oath to abide by it; Arranging the date of the Conclave; Arranging the funeral of the late Pope and for the nine funeral Masses during the nine days of official mourning; Designating who was to give the final eulogy for the dead Pope and the exhortation for the choosing of a new Pope; Forming committees of Cardinals for examining the needs of the conclavists, for naming persons to be admitted to the conclave area, and for assigning cells; Examining a it d approving appropriations for the expenses of the Conclave; And finally, reading letters from Heads of State; reading documents left by the dead Pope, destroying the fisherman's ring and the official seals; and fixing the date for the entrance to the Conclave.

While some titles with which the Cardinals are invested lapse with the death of the Pope, others do not. This ensures that Church business will be attended to.

For example, the Cardinal Penitentiary retains his post. He. incidentally, is the only Cardinal who is entitled during the secret conclave to receive letters which are not first opened and examined by the Secretary of the College and the custodians of the Conclave.

Papal Chamberlains, Very Reverend Monsignors, lose their titles on the Pope's death. They are usually reconfirmed automatically by the new Pope.

A Decree Cum Proxime established by Pope Pius XI orders that Cardinals must enter Conclave to elect a new Pope within 15 to 18 days of their pontiff's death. This is to give far distant cardinals time to travel to Rome.

Before entering the Conclave which will open on Wednesday June 19, the Cardinals will attend Mass of the Holy Ghost, celebrated by the Dean of the Sacred College. Cardinal Tisserant (M. They will hear a discourse on the election of a new Pope. usually given by the Secretary of Briefs to Princes. At present this is Cardinal Bacci. who made the outstanding prophecy concerning Pope John on being a builder of bridges between men and between nations.

Each Cardinal may take two people with him into the Conclave. They may be one clerical or lay assistant, and a personal attendant.

T w o documents currently govern the affairs of the Conclave. The first is the 1945 Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pitts XII, The other is the October, 1962, series of amendments and instructions published by Pope John. It is called Pontificis

Pope John's document changed the system of voting. Previously the requirement was a vote of twothirds phis one.

The rule now requires a simple two-thirds majority. However, it is specified that if the total number of Cardinals present cannot he divided into three equal parts, one vote more than a simple two-thirds is required.

Voting takes place in the famous Sistine Chapel. It is not possible yet to assess how many of the 82 living cardinals will be able to attend this Conclave. The total should be about 20 more than those who attended the Conclave which elected Pope John. And. as befere, there will be a chair for the man who is still deprived of his rightful position as Primate of Hungary. Cardinal Mindszenty. Will he be there this time ?


Voting is by secret ballot. Two ballots are taken each morning and evening. Pope John, it is thought. was elected on the 12th ballot—at the end of the third day of voting. No Cardinal may vote for himself.

Pope John repealed an earlier requirement of excommunication for Cardinals who, without being prevented by reasons of health, do not meet to vote after the bell announcing a balloting has sounded for the third time.

Pope John also ruled that the Conclave is ended by the election of a new Pope. He knew that after his own election many people entered the Conclave area to congraulate him and technically incurred excommunication, since the Conclave was not officially closed until the following day. Although Pope John demanded that the Cardinals in conclave must turn in all their writings, such as personal tallies of the votes. it is not clear whether the ballots will still be burned or not.

When a vote fails to produce a decision, papers (formerly the ballots) are burned in a stove with damp straw. This is designed to produce heavy black smoke and let the watching crowds in St. Peter's Square (and indeed the radio and TV and Pressmen of the world) know that voting continues.

No radios or telephones are allowed in the Conclave area, so the smoke signal remains as part of an old tradition which has become linked with the most modern inventions. Maybe even Telstar will relay the name of our new Pope across the seas.

When a successful ballot has taken place, papers (formerly the ballots) are burned without damp straw, producing a light-coloured smoke and the signal that a successor has been chosen.

To hasten the selection of a Pope and to ensure that the process is carried out in complete secrecy, the Cardinals are completely cut off from the world. They arc locked in a specially prepared and literally walled-up section of the Vatican's halls and apartments, and are locked in and sealed in. Hence con-clavis, with key. No one is allowed to leave or enter.

At one time the Cardinals were forced to live on bread, wine and water after five days, but this was abolished long ago. There is also the rather amusing story of the Conclave held many years ago at Viterbo when so many inconclusive votes were taken over so many months that the local people took a hand and removed the roof over the conclavists heads ! It is said that even today the supply of food is cut a little If no decision has been reached after three days.

When a candidate has received the required number of votes. he is asked by the Cardinal Dean whether he will accept election and by what name he wishes to be known.

For a thousand years past each Pope has taken a new name in imitation of St. Peter's change of name. If the candidate accepts. the canopies over the seats of all Cardinals except the Pope-elect are lowered by the master of ceremonies.

The moment that the new Pope says "I accept." he is the new Supreme Pontiff, fully possessed of all the Papal power and authority.

The new Pope is escorted to an adjacent room, where papal garments (in a variety of sizes) arc waiting. The Cardinals then pay their first homage.

Next, the new Pope confirms or appoints the Cardinal Chamberlain, who puts on the Pope's finger the papal fisherman's ring.

Then comes the moment for which all the world has been waiting : All know that a Pope has been elected—they have seen the white smoke. But the name is still a secret.

The senior Cardinal Deacon (Cardinal Ottaviani) will appear on the balcony above the main doorway of St. Peter's Basilica and says in Latin, "We have a Pope." He then gives the name.

The Cardinal Chamberlain gathers up the Cardinals' writings, puts them into sealed parcels, and takes them to the Vatican archives. Then he must write a report regarding the results of the voting at each of the Conclave sessions. This report must be approved by the Cardinal Dean and, with the writings, is to be preserved in the archives and may not be consulted by anyone without the permission of the reigning pontiff. The date of the coronation will then be announced and, within a month, the Church will have , passed from the sorrow of the , death of Pope John to the joyous celebration of a papal coronation.


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