(Vatican Radio) The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals meeting in the Vatican Synod Hall Friday has decided that the Conclave for the election of the Pope will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013.
A “pro eligendo Romano Pontifice” Mass will be
celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning. Then Tuesday
afternoon the 115 Cardinal Electors will gather in the Pauline Chapel
for a moment of collection and prayer and from there they will process
in order of precedence through the Sala Regia to the Sistine Chapel
invoking the Holy Spirit. Emer McCarthy reports.
There they will take their seats, again observing the order of precedence, to elect the 265th
Successor to St Peter. Once they have taken their seats they will hear
the second meditation established by the Apostolic Constitution
governing the papal transitions. It will be given by the Maltese
Augustinian, Cardinal Prospero Grech.
Following the mediation, the
115 cardinals will swear an oath to observe the rules of Conclave which
include to maintain fidelity to the election of the Pope, to maintain
secrecy, never to support or favor interference. The Cardinal Dean
Angelo Sodano, reads aloud the formula of the oath, the Cardinal
electors respond: I do so promise, pledge and swear.
After all the
Cardinals have taken the oath, the Master of the Papal Ceremonies, Msgr.
Guido Marini orders all individuals other than the Cardinal Electors
and conclave participants to leave the Sistine Chapel. He stands at the
great wooden doors and pronounces the phrase: "Extra omnes!" He then
closes the door.
According to the Apostolic Constitution, on the
afternoon of the first day, one ballot may be held. If a ballot takes
place on the afternoon of the first day and no-one is elected, four
ballots are held on each successive day, two in the morning and two in
the afternoon. If no result is obtained after three vote days of
balloting, the process is suspended for a maximum of one day for prayer,
meditation and reflection. A two thirds majority is required for the
election of a Pope.
Of the 115 Cardinal Electors, more than half are
European with the largest single nationality represented by the 28
Italian Cardinal Electors. In a geographical breakdown: 60 come from
Europe, 19 from Latin America, 14 from North America, 11 from Africa, 10
from Asia and 1 from Oceania.
The average age of the Cardinal
Electors is 71 while 67 of the Cardinals who will enter in the Conclave
Tuesday were appointed by Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI.
eight Conclaves in the 20th century, only three of which lasted longer
than three days. The longest Conclave in the last two hundred years was
1830-1831. It lasted 50 days for a total of 83 ballots resulting in
the election of Gregory XVI, the last religious elected to the papacy.
The shortest Conclave in the 20th century took place in 1939. Eugenio
Pacelli was elected Pius XII after just three ballots.