THE START OF THE CONCLAVE
As mentioned previously, I am reading along with John L. Allen, Jr.’s book, The Rise of Benedict XVI (the author of Conclave), which is so exciting with everything going on at this very moment. Not only did he write about the rise of Benedict XVI, of course, but also the end of John Paul II’s Papacy, the Interregnum, and the Conclave of 2005. Taken from the chapter “Procession”, below are excerpts of the collective oath each cardinal took that year, as well as what occurred in the Sistine Chapel before the famous words “Extra Omnes” (“everyone out”) were declared.
“Following the hymn [“Veni, Creator Spiritus” or “Come, Creator Spirit”], the cardinals took a collective oath. It reads:
‘We, the cardinal electors, collectively and individually, present in this election of the Supreme Pontiff, promise, pledge, and swear to observe faithfully and scrupulously all the prescriptions contained in the Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II. . .
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 as Pastor of the Universal Church and will not fail to affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and liberty of the Holy See.
Above all, we promise and swear to observe with 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 election, directly or indirectly relating to the results of the voting; we promise 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 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.’
In a remarkable departure from previous practice, Vatican Television carried both the procession of the oath-swearing live, so it was broadcast around the world, offering the public for the first time a glimpse into this centuries-old ritual. Following this collective oath, each cardinal then proceeded the Book of the Gospels, which had been placed in the center of the chapel, and added his individual guarantee:
‘And I N., Cardinal N., do so promise, pledge and swear, so help me God and these Holy Gospels which I now touch with my hand.’
As a bit of trivia, the door is locked from the outside and the key is held by the colonel of the Swiss Guard, so that when the cardinals wished to exit they had to knock. At that stage, the rules of procedure called for Ratzinger to ask if anyone had any remaining questions about the requirements of Universi Dominic Gregis, and if they had, a discussion would have followed. In the event, there were no matters of importance raised, and so the cardinals proceeded directly to a first ballot.
The election of the 265th pope in the 2,005-year history of the Roman Catholic Church had begun.”
Today is the day, the beginning of the election of the 266th pope in the 2,013-year of the Roman Catholic Church; the beginning of the future. Church, let us pray! Holy Saints and Angels, pray for us!