Thursday, March 7

Secrets of the Papal Conclave

A new Pope for the Catholic church will be selected this month since Pope Benedict XVI resigned for reason of declining health. Here are some facts about the conclave that will select his successor:

The Cardinals who vote must be under 80 years old.

By Church law, two physicians are to be on hand throughout the conclave to respond to possible medical emergencies.

One of the first acts of the conclave is to select by lot three “Infirmarians”; their responsibility is to collect ballots in a secure lockbox from those cardinal electors who have arrived in Vatican City but are prevented by illness from being present to vote in the Sistine Chapel.

The Chapel and adjacent areas are to be swept by professionals to ensure that they have not been bugged with recording or transmitting devices.

All cardinal electors and the staff that assist them must promise to refrain from using cellphone cameras, etc. and must swear “absolute and perpetual secrecy” about the voting.

The cardinal electors are expected to listen to “two well-prepared meditations on the problems facing the Church at the time and on the need for careful discernment in choosing the new Pope” that are presented to them by “two ecclesiastics [not necessarily electors] known for their sound doctrine, wisdom and moral authority”.

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