Vatican Lockdown Ensures Vote by Secret Ballot

Vatican The Vatican is locking down for the big vote. That raises the question:  How do you keep a secret when more than a hundred people are in on it?

The answer is that you drive them to and from their meetings on a bus, lock them in, install jamming devices guaranteed to turn iPhones into clocks and iPads into pads. Then, to top it off,  promise excommunication to anyone — from those at the top to those who clean the floors — who talks out of school.

As we say in Oklahoma, that oughta do it.

I doubt if we’ll hear so much as a squeak from inside the Sistine Chapel while the votes take place. We will learn the outcome, but the vote, the deliberations and discussions, are for the ears of those making them.

This is an excellent idea. I am a strong believer in openness in governance. But I also know that there are times when people have to be able to consult with one another in private if anything positive is going to happen. Cardinals are people. This secrecy protects them — and us — from the pressures of electing a pope based on passing considerations of personal popularity.

We need the pope that the Holy Spirit wants. I am praying every day in my own shorthand version of prayer that God will give us a good pope. The challenges this man will face are our challenges as well. They are the problems and perils of Christianity at this time in history. The pope will have the only unified voice in Christianity today.

He speaks for 1.2 billion Catholics, and for another 800 million Christians of other communions. He also speaks for the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised of every faith and no faith all around the globe.

It is important that the cardinals vote, as we do, by secret ballot. It is also important that they cast these votes and discuss the issues surrounding them without cameras, bugs or gossip to inhibit them.

The following article from NBC News describes some of the measures being taken at the Vatican to ensure that this happens.

By Alastair Jamieson, Staff writer, NBC NewsROME — Jamming devices to halt communication were installed at the Vatican on Monday, as part of a security lockdown ahead of the papal conclave.

>The behind-the-scenes ballot process is supposed to remain a secret, but modern technology left Roman Catholic Church officials taking no chances.

< Staff working alongside the cardinals voting inside the Sistine Chapel must swear an oath of secrecy.

“I expect they’ll be on a total lockdown,” NBC News’ Vatican analyst George Weigel said. “Security is tight. It’s got to be.”

Jamming devices will be used at the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican and the nearby guest residences at Santa Marta where cardinals will sleep during the conclave, officials told reporters on Friday

The move will ensure cardinals cannot communicate with the outside world or use social media. It will also prevent hidden microphones from picking up the discussions.

Any cardinals or Vatican workers –- such as those serving food in Santa Marta – breaching the code face excommunication from the church. (Read more here.)

  • Theodore Seeber

    What is impressive to me, is that several cardinals from former conclaves have said that there is almost NO discussion. The process is pray in silence, vote (using a patten and chalice, no less), tally the votes, burn the ballots, announce the tally. Repeat as needed until somebody gets to 66%, and if you’re Pope Pius XII, don’t believe them and make the vote one last time to be sure in hopes that they pick somebody else.

    All the campaigning took place in relative public during the conference that is now ended.

    There are historical, and hysterical, reasons for this. But I for one am glad such a boring, and for the cardinals, tortuous, process is not televised.

    • Sus

      I agree with Ted. Different reasons though. I would sit and watch it even with how boring it would be. The thought of the laundry mountain that would grow while I was glued to the TV makes me shiver.

  • Will J

    I believe it was Cardinal Dolan who said a few weeks ago how little he knew of some of the other Cardinals. This process might have been different when most of the Cardinals were Italian.


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