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Changing rules, pope allows cardinals to move up conclave date

Posted By February 25, 2013 | 12:27 pm | Vatican
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In his last week as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI issued new rules for conclaves, including a clause that allows the College of Cardinals to move up the date for the beginning of the conclave to elect his successor. However, the cardinals cannot set the date until after the pope leaves office Feb. 28. Pope Benedict also defined the exact penalty -- automatic excommunication -- that would be incurred by any noncardinal assisting the College of Cardinals who failed to maintain absolute secrecy about the conclave proceedings.

 

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In his last week as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI issued new rules for conclaves, including a clause that allows the College of Cardinals to move up the date for the beginning of the conclave to elect his successor.
However, the cardinals cannot set the date until after the pope leaves office Feb. 28.
Pope Benedict also defined the exact penalty — automatic excommunication — that would be incurred by any noncardinal assisting the College of Cardinals who failed to maintain absolute secrecy about the conclave proceedings.
The pope laid out the new rules in an apostolic letter issued “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. The Vatican released the document Feb. 25.
The changes affect the rules established in Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic constitution governing the election of popes, “Universi Dominici Gregis.”
Under the current rules, which remain in effect, upon the vacancy of the papacy, cardinals in Rome “must wait 15 full days for those who are absent” before they can enter into a conclave and begin the process of electing a new pope.
However, Pope Benedict inserted an additional provision that grants the College of Cardinals “the faculty to move up the start of the conclave if all the cardinal-electors are present,” as well as giving them the ability “to delay, if there are serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few more days.”
However, the conclave still must begin no more than 20 days after the start of the “sede vacante.”
The date of the start of the conclave is to be decided by all the cardinals, including those over the age of 80, who participate in the daily general congregations or discussions that precede a conclave, said Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, the vice chamberlain. He will assist Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in the administration of the church during the “sede vacante.”
The cardinals must wait for every cardinal-elector to arrive or to have sent a legitimate excuse for their absence, such as for reasons of infirmity or serious illness, he told journalists.
The date of the start of the conclave will then be determined by a majority vote, that is 50 percent plus one of the cardinals present, Archbishop Celata said.
The other major change to the rules is that the pope defined the exact penalty incurred by support staff assisting the cardinal-electors during a conclave if they break the oath of secrecy about the proceedings.
The aides must swear to never lend support to or favor any outside interference in the election process. Under the old rules, the penalty for breaking the vow was to be determined by the future pope.
Instead, Pope Benedict has rewritten the oath that staff will take, stating that they are “aware that an infraction will incur the penalty of automatic excommunication.”
“The Holy Father wanted to make things immediately clear and not pass the burden of deciding the penalty on to his successor,” said Archbishop Celata.
The penalty for cardinals who break the oath of secrecy, however, remains unspecified.
The apostolic letter included several other minor changes and clarifications, including the addition of the phrase “at least” to a two-thirds majority when defining a valid election of a pope.
“For the valid election of the Roman pontiff at least two thirds of the votes are required, calculated on the basis of the total number of electors present,” says the revised rule.
Also added were details about who and how many people outside the College of Cardinals can assist during the conclave.
The last-minute changes marked the second time Pope Benedict amended the rules established by Blessed John Paul in 1996.
In 2007, Pope Benedict decreed that a pope is elected when he obtains a two-thirds majority, even when cardinal-electors are at an impasse, which effectively undid a more flexible procedure of moving to a simple majority.

Pope Benedict changes rituals for new pope’s inauguration

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has ordered several changes to the Masses and liturgies that will mark the inauguration of the next pope’s pontificate.
Rites and gestures that are not strictly sacramental will take place either before a Mass or in a ceremony not involving Mass, Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, told the Vatican newspaper Feb. 22.
One of the most visual changes, he said, would be the restoration of the public “act of obedience” in which each cardinal present at the pope’s inaugural Mass comes forward and offers his allegiance.
When Pope Benedict celebrated his inaugural Mass in 2005, 12 people were chosen to represent all Catholics: three cardinals, a bishop, a diocesan priest, a transitional deacon, a male religious, a female religious, a married couple and a young man and a young woman recently confirmed.
Msgr. Marini said Pope Benedict personally approved the changes Feb. 18; they include offering a wider choice of traditional Mass prayers in polyphony and chant, rather than the new musical repertoire composed for the 2005 book.
After having personally experienced the liturgical rites drafted by Msgr. Marini’s predecessor — and approved by Pope Benedict immediately after his election — the pope suggested “a few changes aimed at improving the text” of the rites for the beginning of a pontificate, formally known as the “Ordo Rituum pro Ministerii Petrini Initio Romae Episcopi.”
The changes, Msgr. Marini said, “follow in the line of the modifications made in papal liturgies” over the course of Pope Benedict’s papacy.
The previous edition of the ritual handbook also called for the new pope to visit the basilicas of St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major within two or three weeks of his installation.
The new book, Msgr. Marini said, leaves it up to the new pope to decide “when it would be most opportune, even at some distance from his election, and under what form he judges best, whether it be a Mass, a celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours or a particular liturgical act” like the one found in the 2005 ritual book.
On the other hand, in an email response to questions, Msgr. Marini told Catholic News Service that no significant modifications had been made to the “Ordo rituum conclavis,” the book of rituals, Masses and prayers that accompany the conclave to elect a new pope.