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Theological Notebook: Sunday Morning's Conclave News, Pt. 1

The less-important stories of Sunday morning before the conclave, including the formal ending of John Paul's papacy with the destruction of his ring and the ending of the days of mourning; a schedule to the conclave and a description of some of its rituals can be found here, too.


Cardinals Formally End John Paul's Reign


Apr 16, 10:55 PM (ET)

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Cardinals destroyed Pope John Paul II's ring and lead seal Saturday to formally end his reign, while the Vatican expressed confidence that jamming devices and other unprecedented precautions would keep the name of the new pope secret until it is announced to the world from a balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square.

The official nine-day mourning period for John Paul, which began with a funeral attended by world leaders and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, ended with a Mass celebrated Saturday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica.

The destruction of John Paul's Fisherman's Ring and the seal marked a symbolic end of the pope's 26-year reign and came during the cardinals' last meeting before they sequester themselves in the Sistine Chapel beginning Monday to choose a successor.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said "specialized technicians" of the Vatican Gendarmeria had made sure no communications could emerge from the chapel and he said he was confident that no leaks would emerge from the conclave.

He said even he won't know the name of the new pope until the announcement of "habemus papam" - "We have a pope."

"I prefer not to know," Navarro-Valls said. "It will be an event that we will all experience together, at the same level."

The Vatican Gendarmeria were responsible for all security surrounding the conclave, he said, ruling out speculation that experts from outside had been brought in to debug the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican hotel and other rooms where cardinals will meet.

Asked if the measures would prevent cell phone calls and communication devices from working in the Sistine Chapel, Navarro-Valls suggested that journalists visiting the chapel on Saturday give it a try.

"Try them, and if they work, it went badly," he said.

During the visit, many cell phones didn't work, but a few did have reception. A Swiss Guard said he did not know whether other measures would be taken.

Guards said the jamming devices were under a false floor on which the cardinals will sit.

During the conclave, cardinals will have no access to anyone who hasn't taken an oath of secrecy.

The main courtyard of the Apostolic Palace will be sealed; tourists will be barred from the dome of St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican gardens; and nobody will be allowed on the path between the cardinals' hotel and the chapel.

Housekeepers, drivers and elevator operators who have contact with the cardinals were among those who took an oath of secrecy on Friday, promising not to divulge anything they might learn.

The 115 cardinals under the age of 80 who are taking part in the conclave will move into the Domus Sanctae Marthae hotel on Sunday afternoon and will have dinner together, he said.

They will celebrate a Mass Monday morning and begin processing into the Sistine Chapel that afternoon. They will then take their oath of secrecy and hear a meditation from a senior cardinal.

"On Monday, April 18, 115 cardinals from 52 countries representing five continents will begin the first conclave of the third millennium to elect the 264th successor of St. Peter," the first pope, Navarro-Valls said.

During the conclave, the cardinals will celebrate morning Mass in the chapel of their hotel, then be in the Sistine Chapel for an initial two rounds of morning balloting, he said. They will return for two rounds of afternoon balloting.

Cardinals will decide only after taking their oath Monday afternoon whether they will take a first vote later that day or wait until Tuesday.

Navarro-Valls said smoke signals from burned ballot papers could likely be seen at around noon or around 7 p.m. - unless a winner has been elected following the first ballot of the session.

A two-thirds majority, or 77 votes, is necessary for a winner. If after about 30 ballots no winner has emerged, an absolute majority of the cardinals decides how to proceed, either for a vote by an absolute majority or by balloting between two candidates, he said.

Navarro-Valls said he had been assured that the chemicals added to the burned ballot papers would make it very clear whether the smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel chimney was black - indicating no winner - or white, signaling a pope has been found.

Navarro-Valls stressed that during the week of pre-conclave meetings that cardinals have been holding to discuss the problems facing the church, never once was the name of a papal candidate brought up.

"The climate of these congregations has been one of great familiarity," he said. "This has been perhaps an expression of the great responsibility that all the cardinals feel at this time."


Cardinals Destroy John Paul's Ring Before Conclave


Apr 16, 4:11 PM (ET)

By Philip Pullella and Claudia Parsons

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Roman Catholic cardinals destroyed the late Pope John Paul's ring and seal on Saturday in a symbolic end to his authority before secluding themselves from the world to elect his successor.

The cardinals will begin their conclave on Monday, and the Vatican said smoke would pour from a chimney above the Sistine Chapel twice a day to tell the world whether or not a new pope had been elected.

At Saturday's meeting the cardinals watched an ancient ritual marking the transition between two popes -- the destruction of John Paul's "Fisherman's Ring" and his lead seal, two symbols of his authority.

During John Paul's 26-year pontificate and his many trips across the world, countless pilgrims kissed the gold signet ring.

At 4:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. EDT) on Monday, the 115 cardinals under the age of 80 with the right to choose a new pope will file in solemn procession into the Sistine Chapel, with its Michelangelo frescoes, where voting takes place. They come from 52 nations.

The cardinals will hold up to four ballots a day -- two in the morning and two in the afternoon -- until they elect the 265th pontiff in the 2,000-year history of the Church.

SMOKE SIGNALS

Smoke signals above the Sistine Chapel -- black smoke for an indecisive vote or white for a new pope -- are expected at around noon (6 a.m. EDT) and 7 p.m. (1 p.m. EDT).

As in 1978 when John Paul II was elected, there was no clear favorite before the first conclave of the 21st century.

But newspapers were awash with speculation over who might emerge from a face-off between conservatives and progressives.

On Monday afternoon, after they swear an oath of secrecy and fidelity to the regulations governing the centuries-old election ritual, the cardinals will decide whether to hold a first ballot that night or to start voting on Tuesday morning.

The cardinals for the first time in centuries will live in a modern hotel, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, inside the Vatican and not in makeshift quarters around the Sistine Chapel. They will move in on Sunday.

On Monday morning, cardinals will preside at a public Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

The cardinals can walk the several hundred yards between the hotel and the chapel or take a special bus. But the route will be off limits to all outsiders.

BELLS TO RING OUT

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told a pre-conclave briefing the smoke signal times were "purely approximate" and that when a new pope was chosen the bells of St. Peter's Basilica would ring out to accompany the white smoke so there would be no confusion.

If the cardinals have not chosen a new pope in three days, they can pause for up to a day for what the Vatican says is prayer and reflection. That day could be either Thursday or Friday, depending on whether a vote is held on Monday night.

The new pope is chosen by a two-thirds majority but if no one has been elected after about 33 ballots, the cardinals can decide to move to an absolute majority vote or a run-off between the two front-runners, Navarro-Valls said.

The top contender among many bookmakers and newspapers has been the late Pope's close aide Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, who turned 78 on Saturday.

But while Ratzinger seemed able to attract a bloc of conservatives in a first ballot, newspapers said he seemed unlikely to gain the 77 votes needed to become the 264th successor to the first pope, St. Peter, opening the way for a compromise name.

"There will be more progressive forces working within the conclave to oppose him," Church historian Paul Collins, a former priest, told Reuters.

An elaborate high-tech clampdown has been imposed round the conclave area to keep the proceedings secret and the cardinals cut off from the world.

Navarro-Valls said Vatican security personnel had scanned both the Sistine Chapel and the hotel for listening devices. He suggested measures had been taken to stop mobile phone calls in conclave areas.

In the 12 formal meetings the cardinals held between John Paul's death on April 2 and Saturday, no names had been put forward as candidates, Navarro-Valls said.

"I can confirm that in these general congregations no name was put forward or discussed by the cardinals," he said.


</a>
Doors open into the Sistine Chapel prepared for the upcoming conclave at the Vatican, Saturday, April 16, 2005. Starting Monday, April 18, 115 Cardinals from all over the world will hold closed-door meetings in the Sistine Chapel, decorated by Michelangelo's Last Judgment, in background, to elect the next head of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, pool)

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



Sistine Chapel Has False Floor, Stove


Apr 16, 4:18 PM (ET)

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) - A false floor in the Sistine Chapel hides the jamming devices used to make sure the deliberations of 115 cardinals are kept secret during next week's conclave - but even on Saturday some cell phones were still working inside the frescoed room.

The Vatican let a group of journalists visit the chapel two days before cardinals sit down to vote for a successor to Pope John Paul II, giving a brief glimpse of the room where the leader of the world's 1 billion Catholics will be decided.

The famous stove, where the ballots will be burned after being treated with chemicals to spew out white smoke or black smoke, sits at the back of the chapel on the left, opposite an organ.

The stove, in fact, is a two-part device: one a cast-iron chamber where the ballots are burned and the other a container where canisters of chemicals are inserted to make the smoke white or black. The container has a big red "start" button and an electric blower to ensure the smoke rises from the chimney.

It's the first time such an apparatus has been used. White smoke means the cardinals have chosen a papal successor, but in some previous conclaves the color of the smoke had been neither white nor black but a confusing gray. In addition, bells will ring when a winner has been chosen by this conclave.

Etched on the top of the stove are the dates of previous conclaves during which it has been used, dating back to the 1939 vote that elected Pope Pius XII and running through 1978, when John Paul was chosen. The two machines are joined by a copper pipe that snakes up the wall and out the window, supported by scaffolding.

A ramp leads the cardinals up to a raised false floor and their tables and chairs. A Swiss Guard explained that the jamming equipment against listening devices and cell phones was installed under the floor.

When asked Saturday whether the precautions taken to ensure secrecy during the conclave were sufficient, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls had suggested reporters test their cell phones inside the chapel. "Try them, and if they work, it (the prevention measures) went badly," he said.

Many cell phones did not work inside, but a few did.

Six tables, draped with burgundy skirting and beige tablecloths, run the length of the two side walls, for a total of 12 tables with wooden chairs behind each. A smaller table with five chairs around it sits in the front of the altar, directly beneath Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment," where the so-called "scrutineers" will count the ballots.

In the center of the chapel is a small table with the book of the Gospels. On Monday, each cardinal will place his hand on it and take an oath, promising to keep the deliberations secret and to carry out the job as leader of the church if elected.

The tables were bare on Saturday, and a Swiss Guard said cardinals would not even be served coffee or water during the conclave.

John Paul suggested, in a 2002 poem, that the cardinals look to the chapel itself for inspiration when they gather to choose his successor.

"Michelangelo's vision must then speak to them," John Paul II said in the poem, which he penned in autumn of that year, part of a volume of poetic meditations published by the Vatican in 2003.

When the cardinals look up, they'll see Michelangelo's "Creation" - a series of nine frescos running the length of the ceiling, the most famous of which is the "Creation of Adam," showing God and Adam, their fingers reaching out to one another.

When they place their ballots in an urn on the altar, they'll come face to face with "The Last Judgment," the huge fresco depicting a muscular Jesus surrounded by naked masses ascending to heaven and falling to hell.

Both of those works, as well as the frescoes of the lives of Jesus and Moses that line the walls, were cleaned in recent years to remove 500 years of candle smoke, varnish and grime.

Pope Sixtus IV had the Sistine Chapel built in 1475-83 to give the Vatican a place for solemn ceremonies. By church standards, it's tiny: 135 feet long by 44 feet wide - a basic rectangle ringed by 12 windows and divided into two unequal parts by a marble screen.

John Paul ended his poem with a prayer, but not before giving a final piece of advice to the voting cardinals.

"It is necessary that during the conclave Michelangelo teach them," he writes, with the reminder that in the eyes of God "everything is naked and open."


Timeline of Conclave to Choose New Pope


Apr 16, 5:50 PM (ET)

By The Associated Press

Schedule for conclave of 115 cardinals to choose new pope:

Sunday, April 17

- The 115 cardinals taking part in the conclave will move into the Domus Sanctae Marthae hotel in the afternoon and will have dinner together.

Monday, April 18

- 10 a.m. (4 a.m. EDT): The cardinals celebrate a morning Mass.

- 4:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. EDT): Cardinals process into the Sistine Chapel. They then take their oath of secrecy and hear a meditation from a senior cardinal. After taking their oath, the cardinals will decide whether they will take a first vote on Monday or wait until Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, April 19

- 7:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. EDT): Cardinals celebrate Mass in the hotel chapel.

- 9 a.m. (3 a.m. EDT): Cardinals gather in Sistine Chapel for an initial two rounds of balloting.

- Noon (6 a.m. EDT): Approximate time of first smoke signal from Sistine Chapel. It will indicate whether a new pope has been chosen (white smoke) or no decision has been made (black smoke) in the first round of balloting. The smoke is from the burning of the secret ballots after each round of voting.

- 4 p.m. (10 a.m. EDT): Cardinals return to the Sistine Chapel for two rounds of afternoon balloting.

- 7 p.m. (1 p.m. EDT): Approximate time of smoke signal after second round of voting.

The rest of the days of the conclave are expected to follow Tuesday's schedule. The Vatican spokesman said smoke signals from burned ballot papers could likely be seen at around noon or 7 p.m. each day - unless a winner is elected on Monday in a first ballot.


Vatican releases 343-page book on rites for every moment of conclave


By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To ensure the right atmosphere for the election of a new pope, the Vatican has published a book of rites and prayers to accompany the cardinals as they enter the conclave, vote, elect a new pope and introduce him to the world.

The "Ordo Rituum Conclavis" (Rites of the Conclave) prepared by Italian Archbishop Piero Marini, the papal master of liturgical ceremonies, was approved by Pope John Paul II in 1998, but not released until after the pope's death.

The 343-page book with prayers in Latin and an Italian translation begins by noting that the election of a pope "is prepared for and takes place with liturgical actions and constant prayer."

The election of a pope, it said, "is of supreme importance in the life of the people of God in pilgrimage on earth."

The rites of the conclave begin with the public Mass "for the election of the Roman pontiff," which was to be celebrated April 18 in St. Peter's Basilica.

The "Ordo" called for the Mass to begin with the antiphon from the Book of Samuel, "I will choose a faithful priest who shall do what I have in heart and mind."

Then, according to the book, the celebrant will pray: "O God, eternal pastor, you who govern your people with a father's care, give your church a pontiff acceptable to you for his holiness of life and wholly consecrated to the service of your people."

Even the text of the prayers of the faithful was written in 1998. They include pleas that God would safeguard and protect his church; that the Holy Spirit would enlighten the cardinals; that all humanity would form one family; and that God would grant eternal rest to the soul of the deceased pontiff.

The Mass for the election of the pope is the only rite in the book to be celebrated publicly before the new pope is presented to the world.

After celebrating the morning Mass, the book calls for the cardinals to gather in the late afternoon in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

The dean of the college, currently German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, addresses the cardinals: "After having celebrated the divine mysteries, we now enter into conclave to elect the Roman pontiff. The whole church, united with us in prayer, invokes the grace of the Holy Spirit so that we elect a worthy pastor of the entire flock of Christ."

In a procession behind the cross, the cardinals walk into the Sistine Chapel singing a litany of saints of the East and West and a series of invocations to Christ with the refrain, "Save us, Lord."

Once the cardinals take their places in the chapel, the Book of the Gospels is placed in a worthy position so that it "presides over the celebrations and deliberations of the cardinals," Archbishop Marini wrote.

When everyone is in place, the cardinals chant the ancient invocation of the Holy Spirit, "Veni, Creator Spiritus."

Then the dean prays: "O Father, you who guide and protect your church, give your servants the spirit of intelligence, truth and peace, so that they strive to know your will and serve you with total dedication."

The cardinals then take an oath to "faithfully and scrupulously observe" the rules for electing a pope; each swears that if he is elected he will "faithfully fulfill the Petrine ministry as pastor of the universal church and will strenuously affirm and defend the spiritual and temporal rights as well as the freedom of the Holy See."

They also promise to keep everything having to do with the election secret.

When the last cardinal has placed his hand on the Book of the Gospels and sworn the oath, Archbishop Marini says: "Extra omnes," ordering all those not directly involved in the conclave out of the Sistine Chapel.

Czech Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, who at 85 is not eligible to vote in the conclave, will remain inside to lead the cardinals' reflection on their responsibilities in electing a new pope.

After the meditation, he and Archbishop Marini will leave the chapel.

Each day, the cardinals are to recite morning and evening prayer together and to concelebrate Mass. They are to listen to Scripture and have time for prayer before each ballot is cast and before the ballots are counted.

As each cardinal places his vote in the urn, he promises that his vote was cast for the candidate he believes deserves to be elected.

Each session ends with a brief prayer of thanksgiving and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The newly elected pope will be asked by the dean or by the subdean, currently Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, "Do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff?" The book gives no formula for the assent, nor does it recognize the possibility that the person elected will refuse. The second question asked is: "With what name do you wish to be called?"

If the elected man already is a bishop, once he accepts the office he "immediately is the bishop of the church of Rome, the true pope and head of the college of bishops; he acquires full and supreme power over the universal church."

Immediately after the election, the cardinals are called to pray inside the Sistine Chapel. The liturgy includes a choice of two readings, either from the Gospel of Matthew -- "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church" -- or from the Gospel of John where Jesus says to Peter, "Feed my sheep."

The cardinals approach the new pope and pay homage to him, then sing the "Te Deum" hymn of thanksgiving to God.

Then the senior cardinal deacon, Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, goes to the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and declares to the public, "Habemus papam" (We have a pope).

The "Ordo" contains an appendix of 241 pages of texts for Masses with a special focus on the Holy Spirit, the needs of the universal church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Diocese of Rome.

The book also includes five full-length prayers for recitation before each vote and a brief version, as well as songs, including "Tu es Petrus" (You are Peter) for when the new pope is elected.

In addition, there is the text of the "Adsumus" prayer: "We are here before you, O Holy Spirit: We feel the weight of our weaknesses, but we are gathered in your name; come to us, help us, descend in our hearts. Teach us what we must do, show us the path to follow, accomplish that which you require of us."
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