Pope Emeritus and the goblet of fire
Your guide to understanding the Conclave.
In August of 2005, Pope Benedict XVI called out to pilgrims from a boat traveling down the Rhine: “Open wide your hearts to God! Let yourselves be surprised by Christ!” and I fell to my knees. I traveled to the Motherland of the Pope Emeritus to hear a message of hope and encouragement. For Roman Catholics all over the world, Benedict XVI’s reign, and his stepping down from the Chair of St. Peter have been signs of his grace, humility, and love for the Church.
Pope Benedict, now known as the Pope Emeritus (Emeritus from the Latin meaning that ‘he has served his time’), has chosen to dedicate the rest of his life to prayer, and though now he is living in the Pope’s summer residence (The ‘Castel Gandolfo’) soon he will be moved into the monastery within the Vatican.
So now, as we prepare to find out who the next Pope could be, here are some things to look out for:
1. For the first time in a long time, Catholics are talking about the real possibility of a non-European Pope. There are currently 62 voting Cardinals from Europe, 19 from Latin America, 14 from North America, 11 from Africa, 11 from Asia, and 1 from Oceania. My (inconsequential) vote is for Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the French- Canadian Cardinal who “taught” me how to roll Maple Taffy!
2. People have been asking, “What if the Cardinals elected a Pope who believed that women should be ordained? What if they elected a Pro- Choice Pope? Orthodox Catholics aren’t worried. However, there are some controversial issues that the Pope could change, like the ability of Latin Rite priests to marry. The celibate priesthood is a traditional teaching but not a doctrine, so it could be changed.
3. What if we had our first black Pope? Too late. We already had our first black pope, or at least our first African pope: in the early Church there were three: Pope St Victor I, Pope St Miltiades, and Pope St Gelasius. The current African “favourite” is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, a member of the Roman Curia (the Pope’s closest advisors).
4. Historically, until Pope John Paul II was succeeded by Pope Benedict XVI, we never went more than two Popes without an Italian. Our last Italian Pope was John XXIII, so if you’re keeping track, we’re due for a Roman.
All 117 or so of the active Cardinals (those younger than 80 as of the date Pope Benedict resigned) will vote by writing the name of the person they wish to see elected on a ballot, folding it twice, and saying the words “I call as my witness Christ the Lord who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected”, and place it in a receptacle on the altar of the Chapel. Once all the votes are submitted, they are counted by three randomly selected ‘Scrutineers’ (also Cardinals).
In order for a Cardinal to be elected as the new Pontiff, he must have received two thirds of the votes, plus 1. If this doesn’t occur, the ballots are burned with a chemical which makes the smoke black alerting those watching that a new Pope has not been elected. In that case, the Cardinals will reconvene in the afternoon and vote again. Once a new Pope has been successfully elected, the ballots are burned alone, the naturally white smoke alerting the Church that a new Pope has been chosen.
Top that when you elect a new President, TWU. I dare you.