The mother of all lock-ins

They aren’t a youth group, but what the cardinals meeting to elect a new pope are having is a lock-in.  So explains the BBC, with other little-known facts about what is going on in the Sistine Chapel:

1. It’s a lock-in. Conclave comes from the Latin “cum-clave” meaning literally “with key” – the cardinal-electors will be locked in the Sistine Chapel each day until Benedict XVI’s successor is chosen. The tradition dates back to 1268, when after nearly three years of deliberation the cardinals had still not agreed on a new pope, prompting the people of Rome to hurry things up by locking them up and cutting their rations. Duly elected, the new pope, Gregory X, ruled that in future cardinals should be sequestered from the start of the conclave.

2. Spying is tricky. During the conclave they are allowed no contact with the outside the world – no papers, no TV, no phones, no Twitter. And the world is allowed no contact with them. The threat of excommunication hangs over any cardinal who breaks the rules. [Read more...]

Who will get elected pope?

The conclave of 115 cardinals who will elect the pope convenes on Tuesday.  They will keep casting ballots until someone gets two-thirds of the vote.  Those of us who decry the office can still be interested in the outcome.  I think it would be good for worldwide Christianity if the cardinals would elect a non-European, such as Peter Turkson of Ghana.  Or maybe an Asian, such as Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka or Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines.  Interestingly, liberal Catholics oppose the election of a pope from the developing world, since those societies are extremely conservative when it comes to “women’s issues” and, especially, homosexuality.

But I would love it if New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan were to be chosen. That’s because I’ve met him!  When he was Archbishop of Milwaukee, he was involved with a Catholic school where my wife taught.  Lutheran though I am, I think it would be cool to be able to say that I’ve met the pope. [Read more...]

New pope must pledge to serve until death?

The cardinals don’t seem to approve of Pope Benedict’s resignation and reportedly will ask the next pope to promise not to pull that again. British journalist John Follain reports:

CARDINALS plan to ask the next pope to pledge in his inaugural address that he will serve until his death, unlike Benedict XVI, whose resignation, they believe, has destabilised the Catholic Church.

Doubts have emerged about the impact of Benedict’s decision as the cardinals begin a series of meetings, known as general congregations, to discuss the church’s future.

Italian reports suggest some church leaders believe Benedict’s departure has undermined the sacredness of the office. An unnamed cardinal told the Corriere della Sera newspaper it was impossible to abolish the rule that a pope had the right to resign of his own freewill. “But for the future we need to safeguard the freedom of the church from external influences,” he said, amid fears that a pope could be pressured into stepping down. [Read more...]

Pope resigned to purge “the filth”?

John Cornwell, a recognized Catholic journalist, says that the real reason the pope is resigning is because in doing so the whole Curia–the Vatican bureaucracy that is reportedly rife with financial and sexual corruption–must step down when he does.  Thus, the pope is sacrificing himself to clean up the Vatican. [Read more...]

There is no pope

Pope Benedict’s resignation goes into effect today.  So, until the cardinals get together to elect a new one, there is no pope in office.  Canon law used to require a conclave to meet within 20 days of a pope’s resignation, but the outgoing pope changed that so that the cardinals can set the date whenever they want, and no date has been set yet.  So if the church of Rome can exist without a pope for 20 days and even longer, with the bishops and priests still doing what they do, I’m curious in what sense the office of the papacy is considered to be necessary. [Read more...]

The pope resigns

The pope has surprised the world by announcing his resignation.  From BBC:

Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month after nearly eight years as the head of the Catholic Church, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85.

The unexpected development – the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years – surprised governments, Vatican-watchers and even his closest aides.

The Vatican says it expects a new Pope to be elected before Easter. [Read more...]


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