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The Papal Conclave
The Papal Conclave
Posted by Sr. Marlyn on February 28, 2013 15:49 Article Rating

The last day of the pontificate of Benedict XVI has arrived. We, at Pauline Kids, want to offer you some information that will help you explain to kids what is and will be happening in the days to come. At the end are some ideas of things to do as you experience this time with the children the Lord has entrusted to you.

 Our own experience of electing a new pope is tied with the mourning of the passing away of the previous pope. When Blessed Pope John Paul II died the conclave began fifteen days later. This time, however, Pope Benedict has issued a motu proprio (a kind of executive order) waiving the usual waiting period. This means that the conclave can begin as early as the College of Cardinals wish, that is anytime after March 1, 2013. The College of Cardinals is made up of Cardinals from within the Roman Curia, those from major sees around the world, and others who were named to the college by a pope. Those who are under 80 are eligible to participate in the papal conclave; for this papal conclave 117 will be voting.

By the way, the word conclave means “with a key.” The Cardinal electors used to be locked into the Sistine Chapel until they fulfilled their obligation to choose a new Holy Father.

The conclave will open with participating cardinals solemnly processing from the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace to the Sistine Chapel. As they walk, they will call on the Holy Spirit by chanting Veni Creator Spiritu. The words in Latin and the English translation can be found here. This traditional and beautiful hymn captures the spirit of the conclave in which the cardinals, supported by the prayers of the whole Church, are guided by God the Holy Spirit in in electing the man God wishes to be the Bishop of Rome.

Following the entrance into the Sistine Chapel the each of the members takes an oath to observe canon law (Church law) regarding the election of a new pope, to maintain secrecy regarding the proceedings, to faithfully carry out the Petrine Office, that is the Office of the Successor of Saint Peter, and protect the spiritual and temporal rights of the Holy See if elected.

Once the conclave is called to order, the participating members of the College of Cardinals will reside at Domus Santa Marta and meet in the Sistine Chapel until a pope has been elected. During that time they will not have access to cell phones or other media that might influence their discernment. On the first day of the conclave there is one ballot. On subsequent days there are two votes each morning and two votes each afternoon until a pope has been elected. A two-thirds majority vote is required to elect the new pope.

Votes are checked and double checked to ensure that all present have voted and that was is counted is correct. Once the vote is counted the paper on which it is written is stuck through on a threaded needle. If no single candidate has enough votes for election, the ballots are placed in an empty receptacle and a second voting takes place. After the second voting if there is still no supermajority, the ballots are burned with a chemical pellet that makes the smoke that is release from the chapel’s chimney black. This indicates to the world that no new pope has been elected. When the Cardinals have succeeded in electing a pope, the ballots are burned without the chemical pellet and white smoke emerges from the chimney that the world is watching. Shortly afterward, the announcement “Habemus Papam” (we have a pope) will be declared from the balcony, and his name will be released. The new pope will then emerge and address the whole Church.

One thing to make clear to our kids is that the election of the pope is not like a political election. This is not similar to the election of a president or prime minister. There are no debates, there is no mud-slinging or throwing one’s name into the hat. This is a time of prayer and reflection, a deeply spiritual time in which we trust that the cardinal electors through their prayer and ours will elect the man God wills.

We, the people in the pews, also have a part to play in the election of a pope. We support those in the conclave with our prayers and sacrifices. Our children, as members of the Body of Christ can also join us. Here are some ways for you and the children in your life to live this time more fully:

·        Adopt a cardinal either as a family or as a classroom. By going to this website you will be given a cardinal (after registering) for whom to pray during the conclave that he might be led by the Holy Spirit. If you‘d rather choose your own cardinal, you and your children can pick someone from this list provided by the Vatican.

·        Print a picture of the cardinal and place it in a special place in your house or classroom. Gather around the picture and pray together. You can use something that has been written by a child or a spontaneous prayers by everyone gathered for both the adopted cardinal and the man who will be elected our next pope.

·        In addition to praying for a specific cardinal-elector, your children can write a note of encouragement to the cardinal. This may take a bit of research on the internet to find an email or mailing address.

·        Together watch news from the conclave as things develop. Pray about what you see during telecasts.

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Mary Jane Madeline
# Mary Jane Madeline
Sunday, March 03, 2013 12:01 AM
Thank you Sister Marlyn. It is wonderful informaton about this historic event, that this Grandma appreciates.

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