CARDINALS started last Monday (4/3/2013) what was termed as General Congregations — which are preliminary discussions to get to know each other and most importantly to decide when to start the conclave that would elect the new pontiff.
The successor to Benedict XVI would be elected next week and installed some days after just in time to enable him preside over the Holy Week ceremonies climaxing the Lenten season and culminating with Palm Sunday on March 24, ending the following Sunday which is Easter.
Among the agenda for the General Congregations are discussing the challenges likely to be faced by the new Pope especially in the wake of the devastating sexual abuse scandals involving priests, corruption, money laundering financial mismanagement and rivalries in Vatican administrative hierarchy.
On the balance of assessment, for now, there are no clear front runners for the papacy race, although speculations are everywhere on who are likely to be elected. Scandals that have gripped church administration make the process of the Conclave more complex than ever before.
Vatican watchers believed that the next Pope may not be favoured to have too long a tenure, moreso when last occupant of the post stayed barely for eight years before resigning.
A parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Okokomaiko who spoke with Saturday Vanguard said he preferred a Pope that has a global vision, with determination to clean up the bureaucracy which had been enmeshed in corruption and some other scandals.
How the Conclave will be?
There are 115 voting cardinals while two may not attend. According to reliable source, four votes are cast daily — two in the morning and two in the afternoon. After three days, voting would be suspended for a full day to allow a break or pause for prayer and informed discussion among the voters (Cardinal – electors), and brief spiritual exaltation.
Then seven more ballots and another break up to a full day, followed by another seven more ballots and another break for up to a full day. Then seven ballots again, then a break to consider how to proceed.
In the afternoon of another day, the Cardinal electors move into Domus Sanctae Marthae. In the evening, they will have dinner together.
At 10 a.m. on another day, there will be Mass for election of the Supreme pontiff (St. Peter’s Basillica). At 4.30 p.m., there will be a procession of Cardinal electors from the Hall of Blessings to Sistine Chapel. In the evening of same day, there will be one or two votes cast. At another day, regular schedule for a day in the Conclave.
At 7.30 a.m., Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae, while 9.00 a.m. Lauds in the Sistine Chapel followed by two rounds of voting. At 12 noon, ballots from the morning votes are burned.
At 4.00 p.m, there will be two rounds of voting followed by Vespers, while at 7.00 pm. Ballots from the afternoon votes burned.
Note that only one “Smoke Signal” each morning and afternoon. If the first round of voting in a given morning and afternoon is successful, it meas that a Pope is elected. Then the white smoke will appear earlier. If a white smoke is seen, a Pope has been chosen. The main bells at St. Peter’s Basillica will also be rang. But if black smoke appears, then no Pope has been chosen.
Once white smoke appears, it will be another hour or so until the new Pope is introduced by the Senior Cardinal — Deacon at St. Peter’s Square.