Conclave’s rituals, oaths and secrecy explained



              FILE -- In this photo from files taken on April 18, 2005 and released by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Cardinals walk in procession to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, at the beginning of the conclave. Next month's conclave to elect the 266th leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics will have all the trappings of papal elections past, with the added twist that the this time around the current pope is still very much alive. The conclave begins with the cardinals in their red cassocks processing into the Sistine Chapel, chanting the hypnotic Litany of Saints or Veni Creator imploring the intervention of the Holy Spirit as they take their places before Michelangelo's "Last Judgment." (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, ho)

                  FILE — In this photo from files taken on April 18, 2005 and released by the Vatican paper L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinals walk in procession to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, at the beginning of the conclave. Next month’s conclave to elect the 266th leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics will have all the trappings of papal elections past, with the added twist that the this time around the current pope is still very much alive. The conclave begins with the cardinals in their red cassocks processing into the Sistine Chapel, chanting the hypnotic Litany of Saints or Veni Creator imploring the intervention of the Holy Spirit as they take their places before Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment.” (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, ho)
By NICOLE WINFIELD
Associated Press /  February 16, 2013

VATICAN CITY (AP) — It’s a ritual as rich in tradition and symbolism as the Catholic Church can muster: secret oaths, hypnotic Gregorian chants, scarlet-decked cardinals filing through the Sistine Chapel — all while the public outside in St. Peter’s Square watches for white smoke or black to learn if it has a new pope.

Much of the ritual’s current incarnation is the work of Archbishop Piero Marini.

The Vatican’s master of liturgical celebrations for two decades under Pope John Paul II, Marini organized the funeral rites for the late pontiff and the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. He was by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s side minutes after the election when the new pope uttered the words ‘‘I accept’’ — officially launching his papacy on April 19, 2005.

‘‘I still remember, with some emotion, the silence that there was — the participation of the cardinals,’’ Marini recalled in an interview in his Vatican offices. ‘‘It was an event that had been prepared with great care.’’

Next month’s conclave to elect the 266th leader of the world’s billion Catholics will have all the grand trappings of papal elections past — with the added twist that this time around the current pope is still alive.

Benedict’s resignation, the first papal abdication in 600 years, has caused chaos in the Vatican: Nobody knows for sure what he’ll be called much less what he’ll wear after Feb. 28. But one thing is clear: The rules and rituals to elect his successor will follow Marini’s ‘‘bible’’ of how to run a conclave — a dense tome of footnoted decrees, floor-plans, directions and photos. The book will serve as a guide when 117 cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel to elect Benedict’s successor.

The Vatican said Saturday that the Holy See in the coming days or weeks would publish an update to the main apostolic constitution that guides the papal transition with some ceremonial tweaks, perhaps taking into account the influence of Benedict’s more tradition-minded master of liturgical ceremonies who replaced Marini in 2007. But the fundamentals will likely remain.

The conclave begins with the cardinals in their red cassocks filing into the Sistine Chapel, chanting the monophonic Litany of Saints followed by another sacred song, Veni, Creator Spiritus, imploring the intervention of the saints and Holy Spirit as they take their places before Michelangelo’s ‘‘Last Judgment.’’

The cardinals place their hand on the Gospel and promise to observe absolute secrecy both during and after the conclave, and to ‘‘never lend support or favor to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention … in the election of the Roman Pontiff.’’

While the Vatican is notoriously obsessed with secrecy, there are actually good historical reasons why conclave proceedings are kept quiet and why cardinals promise to vote independently, said Monsignor Robert Wister, professor of church history at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Up until the early 20th century, papal elections could be vetoed by the kings of France, Spain or the Holy Roman Emperor, Wister noted. The power was rarely invoked but was used in the 1903 conclave to replace Pope Leo XII. Leo’s No. 2, the Vatican’s secretary of state, was in the lead when his election was blocked by Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph.

The eventual winner, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, took the name Pius X — and promptly abolished the veto power. Still, the memory of outside intervention has continued to weigh over the College of Cardinals, leading them to be sequestered until they have a pope.

Now they have a Vatican hotel to stay in while not voting, but are forbidden from having any contact with the outside world: no phones, no newspapers, no tweeting.

‘‘There is that fear,’’ Wister said. ‘‘Going back previous centuries, kings did interfere, sometimes with an army.’’

Secrecy under penalty of excommunication also ensures that the winner doesn’t know who among his cardinals voted against him — an important element going forward to keep the church’s top leadership unified.

‘‘It’s not the Renaissance where he’d be poisoned, but it’s a matter of human respect,’’ Wister said.

Once the final oath is taken, the master of liturgical ceremonies gives the order ‘‘Extra omnes’’ (everyone out) and all those not taking part in the conclave leave the frescoed walls of the chapel.

An elderly cardinal, over age 80 and thus ineligible to participate, remains and reads a meditation about the qualities a pope should have and the challenges facing the church, after which he and the master of ceremonies leave the cardinals to begin voting.Continued…

Archbishop of Canterbury’s new Director of Reconciliation

ACNS: ACNS5320

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is delighted to announce the appointment of Canon David Porter as Director for Reconciliation at Lambeth Palace. Canon David will work part time on the Archbishop’s personal staff, seconded by Coventry Cathedral where he remains Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry – bringing first-hand knowledge of the Cathedral’s eminent and longstanding reconciliation work to Lambeth Palace and the wider Church.

Click for Hi-Res Image

Canon David Porter
Photo Credit: Coventry Cathedral

The focus of Canon David’s role will be to enable the Church to make a powerful contribution to transforming the often violent conflicts which overshadow the lives of so many people in the world. His initial focus will be on supporting creative ways for renewing conversations and relationships around deeply held differences within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

Canon David brings extensive front-line experience in the area of reconciliation having served on the Northern Ireland Civic Forum, chairing its working group on peacebuilding and reconciliation, as well serving as a member of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council. Since September 2008 David has been the Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral, England. An experienced community relations activist, peacebuilding practitioner and community theologian he has thirty years experience in regional, national and international faith based organisations.

Speaking about his new position, Canon David Porter said:

“How we live with our deepest differences both within the Church and our increasingly fractured world, is one of the major challenges to the credibility of Christianity as good news.”

“It is a privilege to be asked to take on this responsibility for Archbishop Justin and I look forward to working with him in serving the Church in making reconciliation and peacebuilding a theological and practical priority in its life and witness.”

Speaking about the appointment, Archbishop Justin said:

“I am delighted to welcome Canon David Porter, Canon for Reconciliation at Coventry, who will join my personal staff part time as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation. David brings a wealth of experience in reconciliation and peacebuilding from his work in Northern Ireland and through the Community of the Cross of Nails in Coventry. Conflict is an ever present reality both in the Church and wider society. Christians have been at the centre of reconciliation throughout history. We may not have always handled our own conflicts wisely, but it is essential that we work towards demonstrating ways of reducing destructive conflict in our world – and also to setting an example of how to manage conflict within the Church.”

ENDS

Canon David W Porter – Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry

David is Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral. Previously he was co-founder and Director of ECONI (Evangelical Contribution on Northern Ireland). An experienced community relations activist, peace building practitioner and community theologian, David is honorary Research Fellow in Peace Studies at Coventry University. In 2006 he was Visiting Practitioner Fellow at the Centre for Reconciliation, Duke University Divinity School.

From 2007 until 2011 David was a member of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council and a trustee of Warwickshire based peace building charity, CORD. In 2007 he was appointed by the British government to the independent Consultative Group on the Past. Chaired by Lord Eames their report to government in 2009 set out proposals for how to deal with the legacy of the troubles in Northern Ireland. In 2000/03, David served on the Northern Ireland Civic Forum, chairing its working group on peace building and reconciliation. He is an honours graduate in Theology from the London School of Theology, with a Masters in Peace Studies from the University of Ulster.

Coventry Cathedral Ministry of Reconciliation

Coventry Cathedral is one of the world’s oldest religious-based centres for reconciliation. Following the destruction of the Cathedral in 1940, Provost Howard made a commitment not to revenge, but to forgiveness and reconciliation with those responsible.

Using a national radio broadcast from the cathedral ruins on Christmas Day 1940 he declared that when the war was over he would work with those who had been enemies ‘to build a kinder, more Christ-child-like world.’

It was this moral and prophetic vision which led to Coventry Cathedral’s development as a world Centre for Reconciliation, which over the years has provided inspiration and support to many Christians addressing ongoing conflict in contemporary society. A major part of this ministry was the establishment of the Community of the Cross of Nails, which today is an international network of over 170 CCN Partners in 35 countries committed to a shared ministry of reconciliation.

The Cathedral’s work for reconciliation has involved it in some of the world’s most difficult and longstanding areas of conflict. Building on this experience we are committed to develop our ministry as a centre for excellence to resource the church in the practical outworking of reconciliation as an integral part of Christian worship, witness and discipleship

Marie Papworth
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Press Secretary
Lambeth Palace