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Aktuelle Berichte aus Brasilien – Politik, Kultur und Naturschutz

Die Papstwahl 2013 – Brasiliens wichtigster Befreiungstheologe Frei Betto zu den Einzelheiten.


Frei Betto*

After the resignation of Benedict VI, the Church’s government automatically passed into the hands of the College of Cardinals according to rules re-defined by John Paul II in 1996 in the document Universi Dominici Gregis. This document is read as soon as the cardinals arrive in Rome. Under oath, the prelates are sworn to silence.




Kardinal Odilo Scherer, Sao Paulo.

With the pope’s resignation all the cardinals in the Roman Curia, including the Secretary of State, whose function is equal to that of prime minister, are compulsorily discharged. Only three remain in their present functions: the camerlengo, responsible for the transition and the election of the new pontiff, the major penitentiary, for the door for forgiveness of sins reserved to the Holy See must be kept open – i.e. sins that only she can forgive – and the vicar of the diocese of Rome.

The College of Cardinals’ powers in the transition phase are limited. It cannot, for example, modify the rules for the papal election, name new cardinals (the electors of the new pope) or make any decisions which could constrain the authority of the future pontiff.

The Sistine Chapel is prepared for the conclave. Visits by tourists are suspended and a security team investigates every detail in search of electronic devices. But how can anyone guard against one of the members of the team being bribed by cardinals or governments interested in manipulating the Holy See?

Cardinals who have not yet reached 80 years of age two days before the start of the conclave are summoned to seclusion.  117 cardinal electors are expected.

Before Karol Wojtyla’s election they were lodged in the Apostolic Palace which was uncomfortable for large numbers of guests. The rooms had to be divided with partitions and the bathrooms shared.

John Paul II authorised the investment of US$20 million for the construction of Casa Santa Maria, which houses Vatican employees and visiting clergy. The cardinal-electors will travel by bus to the Sistine Chapel. During the conclave the use of the 108 suites and 23 single rooms, all with private bathrooms, is arranged by drawing lots, with the exception of cardinals who have special needs due to age or infirmity.

The conclave starts as soon as there is enough time for all the cardinals to arrive in Rome. In 1922, for the election of Pius XI, cardinals from North and South America missed the conclave because their ships did not arrive in time. Nowadays with air travel everything is easier.

If a cardinal is late he will have the right to enter the conclave and take part in the election. Once the cardinals are inside, nobody is allowed to leave until the new pontiff has been chosen, excepting in the case of life threatening illness or accident and the general consensus of everyone present.

Those who enter the conclave together with the cardinal electors are the secretary of the College of Cardinals; the master of papal liturgies with two masters of ceremony and two religious from the papal sacristy; an assistant for the cardinal dean; some multilingual friars or monks to act as confessors; two doctors and the kitchen and cleaning personnel who are usually nuns.

No cardinal is permitted to have a personal assistant with him except a private doctor in the case of serious illness. Computers, mobile phones, newspapers, TV, radios, tablets, filming or sound equipment are not allowed. There is only one telephone line for the use of the camerlengo in case of emergency.

Only three cardinals are allowed to contact their offices: the major penitentiary, the vicar of the diocese of Rome and the parish priest of St. Peter’s basilica.

Church rules forbid collusion or election pronouncements before the conclave. This originated when Pope Felix IV (526-530) pressured the clergy and the Roman senate to elect his archdeacon Boniface as his successor. The senators emitted an edict which vetoed any discussion about the election of the future pope while he was still alive.

Any Catholic male aged over 35 is a virtual candidate to the papacy and could wear the Fisherman’s sandals even being a layman. If elected, he must first leave  his family and be immediately ordained a bishop, as happened with John XIX (elected in 1024) and Benedict IX (1032).

*Frei Betto is a writer, author of “Calendário do Poder” (Calendar of Power) (Rocco).

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Montag, 25. Februar 2013 um 14:38 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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