Novak (novak) wrote,

Theological Notebook: Conclave Day 1--Our First Black Smoke

So, the election is underway and the first stories are in. It was interesting watching the opening Mass, as I said in a previous entry, where I actually thought that Ratzinger might have punted the papacy away by being too antagonistic-sounding and just too long, in fact. (I can imagine a Cardinal asking themself if they wanted to listen to five or ten more years of this....) It was also fantastic of the Vatican to allow us to watch and pray along with the opening of the conclave: I enjoyed taking note of some of the less-reported figures after I switched over from CNN, whose reporters like to talk to much, to EWTN, who were content at this point to name all of the Cardinals as they came forward to vote.

So along with the stories on the opening of the conclave here, and on Ratzinger's homily, there are notes on the pilgrims attending for the event, tiny recaps of the conclave schedule, rules and oath, and even one random bit about John Paul II and China.

The voting process has begun

By John L. Allen, Jr.

Rather predictably, the first night of the 2005 conclave ended in puffs of black smoke. Though the cardinals are not obligated to hold a ballot on the first evening, historically it’s the pattern. The dean of the College of Cardinals, Joseph Ratzinger, was obligated to ask the cardinals if any of them had questions about the procedures to be followed under John Paul II’s document, Universi Dominici Gregis, but presumably by this point every question had been asked and answered a half-dozen times. Hence the cardinals opted to proceed directly to a first ballot, since they are presumably as anxious as everyone else to see which way things will go.

From here, things will become steadily more unpredictable. Tuesday, April 19, presents the first serious window in which we might expect to have a pope. If a pope is elected, the junior cardinal deacon, Chilean cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, will appear on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in order to make the famous Habemus Papam announcement, followed in short order by the new pope’s first Urbi et Orbi blessing.

When Karol Wojtyla stepped out onto that balcony in October 1978, he broke with custom by ad-libbing a few lines after the blessing, establishing an immediate rapport between this Polish pope and an initially dubious Roman crowd. There was a delicious moment when the Master of Ceremonies at the time, now Cardinal Virgilio Noe, attempted to pull Wojtyla back, gently suggesting that he was infringing the rules of papal protocol. John Paul II waved him off, the first sign that he intended to conduct his pontificate on his own terms.

Especially if the next pope is a non-Italian, one would expect that he would follow Wojtyla’s lead and say a few words to his new flock in their native language.

Even prior to that, however, we will have received the first precious indication of where the new pope intends to take the church by the name he decides to take. Pius XIII, for example, would suggest a more traditional and conservative pontificate in line with the 20th century papacies of Pius X, XI and XII. John XXIV, on the other hand, might suggest a more reforming pontificate reminiscent of Pope John XXIII, “Good Pope John.” John Paul III, meanwhile, would point to a pontificate that stands in basic continuity with his predecessor.

At this stage, any attempt to divine what’s going on inside the Sistine Chapel would be aimless speculation (except to say the theory floated earlier in the week that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would be elected by a kind of quasi-acclamation on the first ballot obviously proved unfounded).

In the meantime, however, here’s one bit of papal trivia. The Vatican has announced that the next pope will be the 265th successor to St. Peter. That’s their line, and most media organizations have dutifully repeated it. One can arrive at that number, however, only by counting one pope three times: Benedict IX, who occupied the papacy for three non-consecutive terms in the 11th century.

Born to a Tusculan noble family and given the name Theophylact, Benedict IX, the nephew of two previous popes, was installed in 1032. In 1044, a revolt against his family’s domination resulted in his exile, and in his absence Sylvester III became pope. In March of the following year, 1045, the tables turned and Benedict returned to power. Two months later, however, he abdicated, and one theory has it he did so in order to make money from the transfer of his office to his godfather, who became Gregory VI. After a complicated series of events, Benedict IX was again returned to the Throne of Peter in 1047, reigning until 1048 when he was forced from office by the Emperor Henry III.

Thus, to be technical about matters, John Paul II’s successor will lead the 265th pontificate after Peter’s, but will be only the 263rd pope after the original.

Either way you look at it, however, it’s been a long run.

One other point that can be made in these days of anticipation is that the conclave as it is presently structured, i.e., election of the pope by the College of Cardinals, is not part of the divine constitution of the church, and could be changed. Indeed, it has been done differently at various points in church history. In 1417, for example, during the Council of Constance, not only the 23 cardinals at the time. but 30 deputies, many of them laity, of the six Catholic nations represented at the council took part in the conclave that chose Martin V. It was the last time that lay people took part in the election of a pope. Nevertheless, under the old Thomistic axiom that if something has been done it can be done, one cannot exclude the possibility of different modes of electing popes in the future.

Paul VI once toyed with the idea of adding presidents of bishops’ conferences to the electoral body. Whether a future pope might entertain such ideas, or act on them, is anyone’s guess, but it is certainly within the bounds of legitimate debate.

Black Smoke Signals No New Pope Elected

Apr 18, 2:45 PM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - Black smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel's chimney Monday evening, signaling that the cardinals sequestered inside for the first papal conclave of the new millennium failed to elect a new pope.

The black smoke emanating shortly after 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT) meant the 115 voting cardinal "princes" of the church would retire for the night and return to the chapel Tuesday morning for more balloting in their search for a successor to Pope John Paul II.

If two morning ballots fail to produce a pope, the cardinals could hold two more votes Tuesday afternoon.

Some 40,000 people who packed St. Peter's Square to stare at the stovepipe jutting from the chapel roof shouted, "It's black! It's black!" and snapped photos with their cell phones.

White smoke will tell the world that the church's 265th pontiff has been chosen to succeed John Paul, who died April 2 at age 84.

The cardinals, from six continents and representing 52 countries, began their secret deliberations late in the afternoon after the ceremonial closing of the massive doors of the chapel, which is decorated with frescoes by Michelangelo and wired with electronic jamming devices to thwart eavesdropping.

The excitement built as darkness set in and pilgrims watched close-ups of the chimney on giant video screens in the square.

As the smoke began pouring from the chimney, shouts of "e bianco! e bianco!" - "It's white! It's white!" - rippled through the crowd. But the cries quickly gave way to sighs of disappointment as the smoke blackened.

"At first it seemed that we had a new pope, so I had a lot of emotions. But of course we didn't really expect to have a pope on the first day," said Alessia Di Caro, a 23-year-old university student.

There was initial confusion when a Vatican Radio commentator said, "It seems white," as the first puffs emerged from the chimney. But as thick, darker smoke followed, the station proclaimed it black.

"It looks like the stove wasn't working well at first," an announcer joked a few minutes later.

Before shutting themselves inside, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led his fellow cardinals in reading aloud an oath of secrecy. One by one, they then filed up to a Book of the Gospels, placed their right hands on it and pronounced a second oath to keep their sessions secret.

Ratzinger's admonition read, in part: "In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting; we promise and swear not to break this secret in any way ..."

Ratzinger - a powerful Vatican official often mentioned as a leading candidate for pope - began by reciting a prayer at the palace. The cardinals chanted the Litany of the Saints as they made the short walk to the chapel, led by altar servers carrying two long, lit white candles and a metal crucifix.

In a stately and colorful procession carried live on television, they walked past a pair of Swiss Guards in red plumed hats standing at attention at the entrance to the chapel and took two steps into the voting area, where special devices were installed beneath a false floor to block cell phone calls or bugs in an unprecedented effort to secure the proceedings.

Most of the cardinals were clad in crimson vestments and hats except for two Eastern Rite prelates - Lubomyr Husar of Ukraine and Ignace Moussa I Daoud of Syria - who wore black. Ratzinger entered the chapel last - an honor bestowed upon the dean of the College of Cardinals.

Before the procession, Ratzinger asked for prayers from the church that a pastor fit to lead all of Christ's flock would be elected.

"May the Lord lead our steps on the path of truth, so that through the intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and of all the saints, we may always do that which is pleasing to him," he said in Latin.

With Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" as a backdrop behind the altar, depicting a muscular Jesus amid masses of people ascending to heaven and falling to hell, the cardinals took their assigned places behind their name placards, with a copy of the conclave ritual on their desks.

They then placed their red, three-cornered square birettas on the tables, leaving only their crimson skullcaps on their heads.

"I slept well, and now my ideas are clear," French Cardinal Paul Poupard said as he headed into a special pre-conclave Mass held earlier Monday at St. Peter's Basilica. "I have realized the seriousness of the election. The Holy Spirit will do the rest."

In his homily at the Mass, Ratzinger, who presided from the main altar usually reserved for a pope, generated applause from fellow cardinals as he asked God to give the church "a pastor according to his own heart, a pastor who guides us to knowledge in Christ, to his love and to true joy."

But in unusually blunt terms, he made clear what type of pastor that should be: one who should not allow "a dictatorship of relativism" - the ideology that there are no absolute truths - to take deeper root.

Outside the basilica, the faithful thronged the square, eager to bear witness to history in the making.

"I'm excited just to be here," said Sister Maria Grazia, an Italian nun from the order of St. Joseph of the Mountain. It was the fourth time she had come to the square to witness a papal election.

"I feel really cool being here," said Kathy Mullen, 49, of Beverly, Mass. "The last pope was very special, so I don't know how they're going to pick another one. I will be here in the square because it's so historic."

The cardinals will hold up to four rounds of voting - two in the morning, two in the afternoon - a day until a candidate gets two-thirds support: 77 votes. If no one is elected after three days, voting pauses for up to one day.

If the cardinals remain deadlocked late in the second week of voting, they can vote to change the rules so a winner can be elected with a simple majority: 58 votes.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said smoke from burned ballot papers enhanced by special chemicals likely could be seen at about noon (6 a.m. EDT) and about 7 p.m. (1 p.m. EDT) on each day of voting by the cardinal electors, all of whom are under age 80. At some point soon after the new pope is chosen, the Vatican also will ring bells.

The cardinals spent their first night in the super-secure Domus Sanctae Marthae, a $20 million hotel that John Paul had constructed inside Vatican City so they could rest in comfort in private rooms between voting sessions.

Conspicuously missing from their quarters were cell phones, newspapers, radios, TVs and Internet connections - all banned by John Paul to minimize the chances of news influencing their secret deliberations and to prevent leaks to the outside world. The Vatican's security squad swept the chapel for listening devices, and cooks, maids, elevator operators and drivers were sworn to secrecy, with excommunication the punishment for any indiscretions.

No conclave in the past century has lasted more than five days, and the election that made Cardinal Karol Wojtyla pope in October 1978 took eight ballots over three days.

Cardinals faced a choice that boiled down to two options: an older, skilled administrator who could serve as a "transitional" pope while the church absorbs John Paul's 26-year legacy, or a younger dynamic pastor and communicator - perhaps from Latin America or elsewhere in the developing world where the church is growing - who could build on the late pontiff's popularity over a quarter-century of globe-trotting.

The issues sure to figure prominently in the conclave include containing the priest sex-abuse scandals that have cost the church millions in settlements in the United States; coping with a chronic shortage of priests and nuns in the West; halting the stream of people leaving a church whose teachings they no longer find relevant; and improving dialogue with the Islamic world.

"We are praying together with the church for everything to get better," said Sister Annonciata, 42, a Rwandan nun from the Little Sisters of Jesus order who was on the square Monday.


Associated Press reporters Nicole Winfield, Daniela Petroff and Niko Price contributed to this report.

Black smoke rises from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican, Monday, April 18, 2005.Black smoke signals that the cardinals sequestered inside for the first papal conclave of the new millennium held their first vote but failed to elect a new leader for the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics.The black smoke meant the 115 voting "princes" of the church would retire for the night and return to the chapel Tuesday morning for two more rounds of balloting in their search for a successor to Pope John Paul II. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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

Black Smoke Emerges, Signaling No New Pope Today

April 18, 2005
and IAN FISHER for the New York Times

ROME, April 18 - Black smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel this evening as cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church signaled that they had voted inconclusively in their first attempt to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II.

For a few moment, the first wisps of smoke looked white to the many spectators drawn to St. Peter's Square in the Vatican and hopes rose that a pope had already been chosen. Soon, however, the smoke turned decisively black as it wafted from a stovepipe chimney, blowing in the winds at dusk.

The cardinals are to vote again at their conclave on Tuesday.

Earlier today, the cardinals retreated behind the heavy wooden doors of the Sistine Chapeland began the tradition-laden and secret ceremonies to elect one of their number the 265th pope.

In solemn procession, walking slowly in pairs, they proceeded into the chapel as a choir chanted the Litany of Saints, passing through a pair of Swiss guards in full regalia. After taking their seats behind long tables, the cardinals were read an oath of secrecy and obedience by their dean, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Their birettas, red hats that symbolize the power of their offices, sat on the tables in front of them.

Then they lined up and one by one put their hand on the Gospel and swore to obey. The entire pageant was televised live, a first in conclave history and in keeping with the tradition of John Paul II, who used television throughout his papacy to promote the faith. Even in death, his image was broadcast as he lay in state inside St. Peter's Basilica.

"Extra omnes!" cried Piero Marini, the master of papal liturgical ceremonies - or "Everyone out!" He and a theologian chosen to deliver an inspirational message remained. The rules called for them to leave after the address. At that point, the cardinals were to decide whether to hold a first round of voting tonight or not.

Earlier in the day, they heard another message. Cardinal Ratzinger, who will be a powerful force in the conclave, took the occasion of a morning Mass dedicated to the election to issue denounce anyone who would stray from traditional Catholic doctrine.

The 114 other cardinals sat in quarter-circles in front of him. It was the last public rite before the conclave.

"A dictatorship of relativism is being built that recognizes nothing as definite," Cardinal Ratzinger said, "and which leaves as the ultimate measure only one's ego and desires."

For 25 years, Cardinal Ratzinger served as John Paul's theological right hand - and watchdog - as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In his writings and public statements, Cardinal Ratzinger has often sought to uphold the primacy of Catholicism, saying no other religion offered a path to salvation. "Relativism," he has said, implies - wrongly - that other faiths are equally valid. The idea was strongly expressed in a document the congregation issued in 2000, Dominus Iesus, which provoked angry responses from other religious leaders.

In his homily today, Cardinal Ratzinger said that Christians were tossed on the waves of Marxism, liberalism and even "libertinism;" of radical individualism, atheism and vague mysticism. He also decried the creation of "sects" and how people are seduced into them, using a term church leaders often employ to refer to Protestant evangelical movements.

"Having a clear faith, according to the Credo of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism," he said. "Yet relativism, that is, letting oneself being carried 'here and there by any wind of doctrine,' appears as the sole attitude good enough for modern times."

Many of the cardinals, draped in bright-red vestments and wearing white mitres, watched intently as Cardinal Ratzinger spoke on a platform below Bernini's bronze baldacchino. Several others among them - two thirds of the cardinals voting for pope are septuagenarians - appeared to doze.

Cardinal Ratzinger, 78, spoke Italian in heavily accented German, his voice creaky at times and interrupted by coughs. Several church officials said he had been suffering from a cold.

The cardinal has emerged as a front-runner in the election for the next pope, or at least the reference point for a bloc of support generally oriented toward a more conservative position. He has been a major force among the cardinals since John Paul's death on April 2, celebrating the funeral Mass and leading the cardinals' regular daily meetings.

Commentators agreed that while the cardinal had been saying similar things for decades, hearing them expressed, and so sharply at that, just before the conclave was unexpected. But there were different interpretations of his intent.

At the funeral, the cardinal showed his pastoral side, said John-Peter Pham, a former Vatican diplomat and author of a book about papal succession.

At the Mass today, "he's giving evidence that he also has, if you will, the 'vision thing,' that he has definite ideas of where the natural progression of John Paul's theological legacy is," Mr. Pham said. "Whether that's a campaign statement or requirement of what the next guy must have - that remains to be seen."

The message is that John Paul's goals must be maintained, he said. "Either as a candidate or a grand elector, he's definitely in a very strong position, and he wouldn't have made this statement if he was standing alone," Mr. Pham said.

Alberto Monticone, a professor of modern history at Lumsa Catholic University in Rome, called the comments "a very clear indication of what in his view the attitude of the next pope should be - an attitude of struggle against these evils of the world."

It was likely that most of the cardinals were well familiar with Cardinal Ratzinger's thinking, and his belief that the church's first priority should be to shore up the doctrinal walls.

"It's very honest," said the Rev. Gerald O'Collins, a theologian at the Gregorian Pontifical Univesity in Rome. "That's what he thinks."

"Some of the cardinals would not agree with his summation," he said. "Other things like war and peace and hunger are high on the agenda of other cardinals."

After attending the Mass, the Rev. Raymond J. de Souza, chaplain at Newman House at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, said that Cardinal Ratzinger's homily was an "exhortation" to the cardinals to go into the conclave keeping in mind that the primary responsibility of a pope is to preserve the faith passed on from the apostles and not to dilute or experiment with it.

"If the faith is strong, then the church can take on these other issues," said Mr. de Souza, who writes a syndicated column.

Prof. Hans Küng, a theologian at the University of Tubingen, who has tangled with Cardinal Ratzinger, said he heard similar views many years ago from him. "His ideology is a medieval, anti-Reformation, anti-modern paradigm of the church and the papacy," he said.

The mourning that followed John Paul's death seemed fully lifted today, amid an air of expectation in the church and St. Peter's square. In contrast with the solemnity of the funeral rites, the Mass today was open to tourists, whose babies cried and cameras flashed at this latest chapter in two millenniums of history.

Four large screens were set up in St. Peter's Square to broadcast the Mass live. Crowds of tourists, clergy, Vatican officials and nuns gazed up at the cardinals projected on the screens. Some said they were praying for them.

Brother Felix, who has come from Germany to Rome to study, said that while the conclave was indeed a political process, "the whole election is a prayer," explaining, "They pray that their human voting is led from the Holy Spirit."

Already, the crimson curtain has been hung on the central balcony of the basilica facing St. Peter's for the new pope's traditional first appearance before the crowds.

About an hour before Mass, the cardinals left St. Martha's residence, a hotel of sorts on the Vatican grounds built by John Paul for conclaves.

They made the 100-yard walk to the basilica, strolling mostly in groups of two and three, including two cardinals mentioned as possible popes: Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina and Tarcisio Bertone of Italy. Roger Mahony of Los Angeles shared a chipper greeting with reporters. A French cardinal, Paul Poupard, chatted briefly with the French press.

With the conclave under way, all the cardinals will now remain cut off from all outside contact.

After the Mass, the congregation of priests, nuns, pilgrims and a scattering of tourists applauded as the cardinals walked in procession out of the basilica, the applause rising, it seemed, as favored papal candidates passed. But the loudest applause was for Cardinal Ratzinger as he pulled up the procession's tail - so enthusiastic that he gave a big smile to recognize it.

Laurie Goodstein contributed reporting from Rome for this article.

Faithful Wait As Papal Conclave Begins

Apr 18, 2:22 PM (ET)


In village churches in Nigeria, crumbling cathedrals in Latin America, underground parishes in China and lavish temples in Europe, the faithful waited. A billion Catholics focused on 115 sequestered men likely to narrow their ranks to one: the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Major theological issues were at stake as the cardinals convened behind the massive doors of the Sistine Chapel on Monday, but many faithful - especially in poor nations - were simply cheering on homegrown sons in the hope of attracting attention to their problems.

"What we want is a good pope, but it would be better if he's Colombian," said Graciela Antunes, who sells cigarettes and candy on the sidewalks of Pereira, the Colombian town where Cardinal Dario Castrillon, one of the possible candidates, made his mark.

After praying in the cathedral where Castrillon used to deliver sermons, Antunes said she hoped a local pope could help ease the nation's poverty, violence and other woes. "We really need help here," she said.

At the Nigerian cathedral where papal contender Cardinal Francis Arinze looked after his flock before moving to the Vatican, Clement Nwuba, a 48-year-old teacher, contemplated the possibility that a fellow countryman could become the first modern African pope.

"I don't think the West is ready for an African pope," he said at Holy Trinity Cathedral in the southeastern Nigerian city of Onitsha. "But the fact that Arinze is being mentioned means it won't be long before an African gets the responsibility."

At the Vatican, Antonio Perazzo, a 55-year-old retired tram driver, held up a sign asking merely that whoever wins chooses the name John Paul III.

"Any nationality would work; it doesn't matter," he said. "The pope belongs to the whole world, like a mother who has children who are different but she loves them all."

In Argentina, residents of the Villa 21 slum in Buenos Aires often visited by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio were rooting for their archbishop.

"I'll be waiting for the announcement, praying and crying," said Maria Esther Romano, 76. "I'm going to be very nervous, so it might be better if I listen to the radio only every now and then."

But in Mexico, which had a possible papal candidate in Cardinal Norberto Rivera, church authorities discouraged any lobbying. On Sunday, a Mexico City priest asked his flock whether it would promise to love the next pope as much as John Paul, who was hugely popular in Mexico. The congregation yelled in unison: "Yes!"

People in Italy were abuzz with the prospect the papacy could return to an Italian after the Polish John Paul II's 26-year pontificate. Dionigi Tettamanzi, 71, the archbishop of Milan, was considered a particularly strong contender.

"To be honest, I'd rather he be Italian because that's what I grew up with," said Carla Fiorini, a 52-year-old secretary who went to St. Peter's Square in the hope of seeing the white smoke signaling that the conclave has picked the pope. But the smoke Monday was black - meaning no pope had been chosen.

Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen said in remarks published Sunday in an Italian newspaper that he hoped the new pope would continue John Paul's efforts to improve ties between China and the Vatican.

"I am certain that the new pope will give a signal (on closer ties) very soon," Zen told Corriere della Sera. China's state church counts 4 million followers, but independent church groups say at least twice that number worship in non-approved churches loyal to the pope.

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power PLC had German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at 5-1 odds, but Sister Maria, in the Bavarian town where Ratzinger went to high school, didn't give the Vatican doctrine chief much of a chance.

"He's not going to be chosen. I simply know it," she said. "I believe that the Holy Spirit is working, and I'll let it be a surprise."

In Seville, 54-year-old law professor Jose Manuel del Valle stood near the ornate cathedral and a tower from the times Spain was ruled by Muslim Moors - and recommended Seville Archbishop Carlos Amigo Vallejo because he would be a conciliatory force.

"He has a very special link with Islam," said del Valle, referring to the cardinal's time as archbishop in Morocco. "It is time the church reached out to other religions."


Associated Press writers Geir Moulson in Seville, Spain, Vanessa Gera in Rome, Dulue Mbachu in Onitsha, Nigeria, Mark Stevensen in Mexico City, Bill Cormier in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin, Ireland, and Margarita Martinez in Pereira, Colombia, contributed to this report.

Cardinal Warns About Dangers to Church

Apr 18, 11:10 AM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, considered a top contender to be the next pope, lashed out Monday at what he called threats to the fundamental truths of the Roman Catholic Church as he sought to set a conservative tone for the conclave to elect a new pope.

Hours before the cardinals sequestered themselves in the Sistine Chapel, Ratzinger used his homily at the Mass dedicated to choosing John Paul II's successor to warn about tendencies he considered dangerous to the faith.

It was a clear message that Ratzinger wanted his fellow 114 cardinal electors to pick a new pope who will hold fast to the strict doctrinal line that John Paul charted and that he upheld as the powerful prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

Ratzinger ticked off the threats facing the church and the next pontiff: sects and ideologies like Marxism, liberalism, atheism and agnosticism, collectivism, and what he called "radical individualism" and "vague religious mysticism."

He also singled out relativism - the ideology that there are no absolute truths.

"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism," he said. "Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards.

"We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires," he told cardinals, bishops and others gathered in St. Peter's Basilica for the solemn Mass before the conclave.

Ratzinger, 78, has been guardian of absolutes in church doctrine since 1981 as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responsible for maintaining the church's hard line on issues such as birth control, barring women priests, abortion and euthanasia.

In that role, Ratzinger has silenced dissident theologians, reiterated church teaching and served as a close aide to John Paul.

In his memoirs, "The Salt of the Earth," Ratzinger speaks openly of being enrolled in the Hitler Youth against his will at age 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. Soon after he joined, he says he was let out due to his training for the priesthood at the local seminary high school.

Two years later, he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper, a common fate for German teenage boys not yet old enough to be soldiers. He was sent to Munich, where he assisted an anti-aircraft brigade defending a BMW plant. He was released a year later, only to be sent to the Austrian-Hungarian border to build tank barriers.

Enrolled as a soldier at 18, he had barely finished basic training when he deserted just days before the war ended May 8, 1945, and was taken prisoner by the Americans.

As dean of the College of Cardinals, he has been mentioned often as a possible "transitional" pope, who because of his age would likely have a short reign following the 26-year papacy of John Paul II, the third-longest in church history.

Those who support continuing John Paul's conservative policies also could back Ratzinger. But objections to a Ratzinger papacy could come from cardinals who want the next pope to be an experienced and widely admired pastoral figure, in the mold of John Paul or John XXIII. More liberal Catholics also might be alienated by a Ratzinger papacy.

Italian media speculated that the main anti-Ratzinger candidate was the retired archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a favorite of the more liberal wing of the College of Cardinals.

Martini, 78, was mentioned as "papabile," or having the qualities of being a pope, several years ago, but ill health took him off the list of front-runners. He could, however, help build a coalition around a winning candidate.

Days after John Paul died, Martini, a Jesuit known for his candor, called for a broad council to help the pope govern in a veiled endorsement of the need for reform.

He stressed that he was not calling for a "Vatican III" - or a sequel to the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council that modernized the Roman Catholic Church - since that would imply putting up for discussion all the issues confronting the church.

But he said convening an assembly representing the universal church to discuss issues could be "a useful experience to undo the disciplinary and doctrinal knots that periodically reopen like hot issues in the path of the church."

Ratzinger made no such mention in his homily, which was very closely tied to the scriptural readings of the Mass.

Ratzinger only referred specifically to the job awaiting cardinals this week at the end of his homily.

"At this time, above all, we pray with insistence to the Lord, so that after the great gift of Pope John Paul II, he again gives us a pastor according to his own heart, a pastor who guides us to knowledge in Christ, to his love and to true joy," he said.

Ratzinger in forceful call for conservative path

By Stacy Meichtry

In a sermon intended to set the tone for the next papal election, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delivered a stinging critique of modern culture, calling upon the church to wield Jesus Christ as a shield against a “dictatorship of relativism.”

Standing before a semicircle of his peers and a massive audience of rank and file faithful, Ratzinger asked: “How many winds of doctrine have we known in the last ten years? How many ideological currents, how many fashions of thought?”

“Having a clear faith based on the creed of the church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. Meanwhile relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to modern standards."

Ratzinger’s sermon came hours before he and 114 of his fellow cardinals were to enter the Sistine Chapel and begin the conclave.

His sermon depicted the church as a “little boat of Christian thought” tossed by waves of “extreme” schools of modern thought, which he identified as Marxism, liberalism, libertinism, collectivism and “radical individualism.” Other dangers to the faith included “a vague religious mysticism,” “new sects,” and materialism.

“All men want to leave a trace behind,” he said. “But what remains? Not money. Buildings won’t remain; neither will books,” he said.

"We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires," he told the cardinals, urging them to promote a “maturity of Christ” to protect the church from modern influence.

“Christ is the real measure of humanism. ‘Adult’ isn’t a faith that follows waves of fashion. Adulthood and maturity are a faith profoundly rooted in friendship with Christ,” he said

As the dean of the College of Cardinals, Ratzinger was designated to celebrate the “Pro Eligendo Romano Pontefice,” or the Mass for the election of the Roman pontiff, giving the conservative German a crucial platform to promote his outlook before cardinals are sequestered for the conclave. His call for resistance echoed the combative stances he’s taken as John Paul’s top theologian, mounting defenses for “Culture of Life” issues, discouraging the presence of Islam in Europe and reprimanding church scholars who pushed the theological envelope. Ratzinger has also advocated the establishment of a “creative minority” to reinforce the faith of the church.

Ratzinger is widely believed to be a papal front-runner. Vatican watchers have reported that the German has culled the support of 40 to 50 John Paul loyalists who aim to maintain doctrinal continuity with the late pope. Ratzinger needs 77 votes, a two-thirds majority, to become pope.

In previous conclaves, breakaway candidacies have been known to lose their momentum in the early stages of balloting. Opposition to Ratzinger’s candidacy has been building among a group of moderate cardinals who are moving to block the German’s candidacy. Observers have identified Cardinals Godfried Danneels of Belgium and Walter Kasper of Germany as being among the core members of the opposition group.

In a Saturday Mass at Rome’s Santa Maria in Trastevere, Kasper instructed an audience of hundreds to not expect a “clone” of John Paul, nor “someone who is too scared of doubt and secularity in the modern world.”

Monday, Ratzinger and his fellow cardinals appeared at the Pro Eligendo Mass robed in red vestments identical to the ones they wore at John Paul II’s funeral.

Bespectacled and looking slightly fatigued, Ratzinger read his homily in a high-tenored voice that drew concentrated looks from cardinals. Throughout the sermon, he experienced small bursts of coughing. Once, he reached into his vestment sleeve and withdrew a handkerchief to smother a cough.

“In this hour we pray with great instance that the Lord, after the great gift of pope John Paul II, grant us again a shepherd of the heart, a pastor that guides us according to the conscience, love and true joy of Christ,” Ratzinger concluded, receiving applause from some cardinals, including Camillo Ruini, a powerful Italian prelate. Vatican watchers speculate that Ratzinger could shift his constituency to Ruini if his own candidacy stalls.

Later Monday, cardinals processed into the Sistine Chapel and, placing a hand on the gospel, swore an oath of secrecy (“I promise, pledge and swear.”) against the threat of excommunication. Following the oath, Cardinal Tomas Spidlik delivered a final meditation before exiting the chapel, leaving his younger counterparts to decide whether to immediately take a first vote or wait until Tuesday.

They will be seated atop a wooden platform, elevated above electronic devices that jam cell phone signals and other spy equipment.

Pope Hoped to Visit China, Bishop Says

Apr 17, 9:21 PM (ET)

ROME (AP) - Pope John Paul II once wrote to China's president and never stopped dreaming of a papal visit to China, Hong Kong's bishop recalled in an interview published Sunday.

Bishop Joseph Zen said John Paul sent a personal letter to President Jiang Zemin after the Chinese were outraged by sainthood granted by the Vatican in 2000 to 120 martyrs of Chinese religious persecution.

Zen said the letter "asked forgiveness" for holding the canonization ceremony on Oct. 1, the 51st anniversary of Communist rule in China.

"The regime always thought it was a plot" to pick that date, Zen told the Milan daily Corriere della Sera. "The truth is instead banal. It was really an error" by Vatican officials who didn't realize the ceremony fell on the anniversary of the birth of China's Communist state.

China was one of the few countries the most traveled pope in history was unable to visit during his 26-year papacy, because of poor relations going back to 1951 when China's officially atheistic Communist Party severed ties with the Vatican.

"'I want to go to China, I want to go to China,'" Zen recalled the pontiff telling him during a private audience. "His dream was really China."

The Vatican is also the only European state to have diplomatic relations with self-governing Taiwan, which China claims as a part of its territory. While Beijing's state church counts 4 million followers, independent church groups say at least twice that number worship in non-approved churches loyal to the pope.

But Zen predicted that the Vatican's relations with Beijing would improve.

He noted that on Thursday China urged the Vatican to create conditions for improved relations under John Paul's successor, who will be chosen in a secret conclave starting Monday.

Relations with Beijing will advance "with patience, firmness and also with realism, just as our (late) pope sought" to do, Zen said.

New Pope Will Be Free to Pick Own Name

Apr 18, 1:39 AM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - As soon as he says "yes" to being pope, the new head of the Roman Catholic Church will make his first major decision: He'll choose a new name.

The new pope will be free to pick from any of his 264 predecessors, use his own first name or come up with something new.

Vatican-watchers will read the choice like tea leaves offering clues to the spirit of the new papacy.

"If he chooses the name Pius XIII, it is a clear signal that he didn't like Vatican II and wants to move the church backwards," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine America, referring to the conservative stance of Pope Pius XII, who died in 1958.

Taking the name John XXIV would signify "a desire to continue the Second Vatican Council," Reese said. Pius XII's successor, John XXIII, called the international gathering of prelates from 1962-65, which was credited with modernizing the church through its liberalizing reforms.

According to conclave ritual, the new pope gives his name to the cardinals while they are still gathered in the Sistine Chapel. The name is then revealed to the world in the "Habemus papam" ("We have a pope") announcement from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica shortly before the new pontiff appears to give his first blessing.

In the early church, most popes kept their own names, which accounts for such archaic appellations as Adeodatus, Formosus, Hyginus and Anastasius Bibliothecarius.

In the 20th century, three popes took the name Pius, one Benedict, one Paul, and one John. In 1978, the newly elected patriarch of Venice, Albino Luciani, combined John and Paul to become the first John Paul in papal history. In deference to Luciani, who died after only 33 days in office, his successor became John Paul II.

Choosing a new name as pontiff did not become a tradition until 996, when Bruno, the first German pope, became known as Gregory V. Named after a pagan god, the 6th-century priest Mercury changed his name to John II upon becoming pope.

Over the centuries, the most popular name has been John. Twenty-three popes have taken the name of Jesus' most beloved apostle, followed by 16 Gregories, 15 Benedicts and 13 Leos.

Benedict, which comes from the Latin for "blessing," is one of a number of papal names of holy origin such as Clement ("mercy"), Innocent ("hopeful" as well as "innocent") and Pius ("pious").

The next pope could choose the name John Paul III, thus embracing the formidable legacy of his predecessor, who in 26 years on the throne of Peter traveled farther and met with more people than any other pope in the history of the church.

Such a choice would signal that the new pope is committed to continuing John Paul II's legacy, but it would also show he was responding to the "huge affection of people around the world for John Paul II," Reese said.

The one name that no pontiff has presumed to duplicate is that of Peter the Apostle, the first pope.

Although the pope is also known as the "successor of Peter," no one wants to put himself on the same level as the man who, according to church teaching, Christ himself put at the head of his flock.

Pilgrims Gather at St. Peter's Square

Apr 18, 9:35 AM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pilgrims sang, cried and dropped to their knees to pray on the cobblestones of St. Peter's Square on Monday as cardinals held their final Mass before shutting themselves inside the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope.

Thousands of people passed through metal detectors to get into St. Peter's Basilica for the midmorning Mass celebrated by the 115 crimson-robed cardinals who will elect the successor to John Paul II, while thousands more followed the service on giant screens in the square.

Rwandan nuns in blue habits, Filipino monks in gray robes and tourists in T-shirts mixed together, shaking hands and hugging in the sign of peace. Tears streamed down the faces of Leila Mota and Mariana Dias as they embraced tightly.

"For the rest of my life, I'll keep this moment in my heart," said Dias, a 27-year-old architect from Natal, Brazil. "The emotion is so strong, the faith is so great."

Sobbing, she said she could feel John Paul's presence.

"I've seen Masses here on television, but I never imagined when I got here I'd feel him so close to me," she said.

Some of the pilgrims gazed up at the chimney on the slanted roof of the chapel, where white smoke will signal to the world that the church's 265th pontiff has been elected. The famous stove in the chapel, where the "princes" of the church were to convene later Monday, will billow black smoke to signal an inconclusive round of balloting.

The cardinals were to sequester themselves inside the chapel in the afternoon after a solemn procession from the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

Many of the pilgrims said they would come to the square every day "to see what color the smoke comes out," according to Rigel Salazar, 42, of Ciudad Valles, Mexico.

"It's all because of John Paul. There hasn't been this sort of stirring before. He's really got the whole world thinking," said John Read, 65, a retired carpenter from Wales.

The crowds were smaller than those for John Paul's April 8 funeral, when hundreds of thousands of people packed the square and surrounding streets. But they grew as the day moved on, and many said the square would be packed by the time a cardinal cries from a Vatican balcony "Habemus papam" - "We have a pope" - however long it takes for that to happen.

The rainy skies that settled on Rome immediately after the funeral suddenly cleared Monday morning, giving way to a brilliant sunny day. Cloudy skies could make it difficult for some observers to determine the color of the smoke after balloting.

At the edge of the large column-lined square, people paused at a newsstand selling the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, which on Monday featured a four-page spread with photos of each of the 115 voting cardinals - one of whom almost certainly will be the new pontiff. Although the conclave can elect any baptized Catholic male as pope, that has rarely been done.

Many of those in the square said they were praying for God to help the cardinals choose their new leader.

"Now what we are all hoping for is that the Lord illuminates the cardinals ... that the Lord through them makes the decision," said Rev. Luis Serrano, a 28-year-old priest from Isla Margarita, Venezuela, who is studying theology in Rome. "It is a very strong burden, choosing the pope who will guide the church."

He said he did not envy the cardinals charged with choosing the pontiff.

"They must feel fear and anxiety," Serrano said. "They are humans like anyone else. I wouldn't want to put myself in their shoes."

People from all continents mixed together on the square, all fixed on the giant screens showing the Mass.

"What impresses me is the universality of the church. There are Chinese, Japanese, Africans - we're surrounded by people from all places," said Javier Sancho, 40, a lawyer from Mendoza, Argentina. "It's beautiful that everyone is represented."

A nun stands up as she attends a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Monday, April 18, 2005, as the cardinals who will elect a new Pope made their last public appearence before sequestering themselves inside the Sistine Chapel later in the day. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists packed St. Peter's Basilica and the square to take a last glimpse at the cardinals who will elect the next head of the Roman Catholic Church during the Conclave. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

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

Rules for Conclave That Elects Next Pope

Apr 18, 10:27 AM (ET)

By The Associated Press

Voting rules for the conclave beginning Monday to elect a new pope:



Only the 115 cardinals under age 80 and well enough to vote. The dean of the College of Cardinals, Germany's Joseph Ratzinger, presides. Two cardinals under 80 could not attend because of health reasons.

Electors vow total secrecy and promise to oppose interference by secular authorities or any others. They are forbidden to make any "pact, agreement, promise or other commitment" to win votes for or against a candidate. They must not be swayed "by friendship or aversion," media suggestions, force, "fear or the pursuit of popularity."



Voting occurs in the Sistine Chapel by secret ballot. In early rounds, a two-thirds majority - 77 votes - is required for victory.

One ballot may be held the first day. If no pope is elected, two ballots in immediate succession without discussion occur each morning, and two each afternoon. After the twice-daily voting sessions, the ballots and any notes are burned.

If no one is elected after three days, voting pauses for up to one day. After seven more ballots, there's another pause, then seven ballots and another pause, then seven ballots. At this point if there's still no winner, a simple majority of cardinals may agree to elect the pope by a simple majority - 58 votes, or exactly half of the cardinals plus one.

Timeline of Vatican Conclave to Pick Pope

Apr 18, 7:44 AM (ET)

By The Associated Press

Schedule for conclave of 115 cardinals to choose new pope:

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 enter the Sistine Chapel, then take their oath of secrecy and hear a meditation from a senior cardinal. After taking their oath, the cardinals will decide whether to take a first vote 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 two rounds of balloting if new pope not elected Monday.

- 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 morning session of balloting. The smoke is from the burning of the secret ballots after the two rounds of voting held mornings and afternoons.

- 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 about noon (6 a.m. EDT) or 7 p.m. (1 p.m. EDT) each day - unless a winner is elected Monday in a first ballot.

Oath Taken by Cardinals Voting for Pope

Apr 18, 12:55 PM (ET)

By The Associated Press

Text of the oath taken by the 115 cardinals voting in the conclave to elect a new pope. The dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, read the following in Latin:

"We, the cardinal electors present in this election of the Supreme Pontiff promise, pledge and swear, as individuals and as a group, to observe faithfully and scrupulously the prescriptions contained in the Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, Universi Dominici Gregis, published on 22 February 1996. We likewise promise, pledge and swear that whichever of us by divine disposition is elected Roman Pontiff will commit himself faithfully to carrying out the munus Petrinum of Pastor of the Universal Church and will not fail to affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and the liberty of the Holy See. In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting; we promise and swear not to break this secret in any way, either during or after the election of the new Pontiff, unless explicit authorization is granted by the same Pontiff; and never to lend support or favor to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention, whereby secular authorities of whatever order and degree or any group of people or individuals might wish to intervene in the election of the Roman Pontiff."

Each of the cardinal electors, according to the order of precedence, then took the oath:

"And I, (NAME), do so promise, pledge and swear."

Placing his hand on the book of the Gospels, the cardinals added:

"So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand."

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