The papal conclave is well underway and it’s how the Roman Catholic Church selects a new pope. The word “pope” is Latin for “papa” and is used as a nickname for the official title of “Bishop of Rome”. The Roman Catholic Church chooses a leader by the voting of senior members of clergy and lay leaders. The extreme protocol associated with the papal conclave process also helps defuse any political authorities that may try to strong arm the choice of the pope.
The papal conclave was developed many centuries to limit the issues in electing a pope. As far back as 1059, the decision making was left to the College of Cardinals, an official group of cardinals in the church. The ‘picking process’ evolved in 1274 when Pope Gregory X, amended new drastic procedures by enacting a decree that bishops remain under lock and key in the Sistine Chapel (conclave) until a successor was named.
In 1970, Pope Paul VI reduced the electoral committee to those candidates under the age of 80 years old with only two-thirds of the conclaves votes needed to select a new pope.
Long before a candidate for pope is even considered many days and hours leading up to the decision are surrendered to continuous prayer. Once a new pope has been chosen, the candidate is given a chance to decline or accept the position of pope, if at the time the candidate is not a bishop that honor will then be bestowed. The candidate is then allowed to choose a name and taken to the “Room of Tears” where the official ceremonial robe is worn and the new pope is presented at the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to crowds gathered at St. Peter’s Square.
Today papal conclaves are regulated by Pope John Paul II’s- Universi Dominici Gregis. The guide lends precise instructions that must be adhered to with all diligence and includes the calculated steps taken by members of the College of Cardinal following the death of a pope. Nothing is left to chance; everything from funeral arrangements of the deceased pope to what qualities one should have in determining the next pope is included. Surely the recent events surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation have given way for some creative closed door meetings since the death of a former pope has been the reason for a new one.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s very own Cardinal Adam Maida went to Rome and was apart of the pre-conclave meetings but because Maida is over the age of 80 is exempt from voting in the final conclave as is former Detroit Archdiocese Leader Cardinal Edmond Szoka who did not make the trip because of illness.
“Every Cardinal is asked to say what he wants about the needs of the church,” said Maida about his experience while in Rome. When it comes to predictions on who will become the next pope the retired cardinal admits that is left to a higher power. “I haven’t the slightest idea, the Holy Spirit has not revealed that to me yet. I wouldn’t be surprised at anything.”
With the media spotlight on the identity of the next pope, it’s safe to say any news about the selection process and the names of any frontrunners is trending but even with some relaxed attitudes behind all the secrecy if any non-cardinal reveals what happens in the conclave, excommunicating is the penalty.
According to compellingtruth.com the procedures behind selecting a new pope are both steeped in tradition and ever evolving to include the attraction of a new generation.
Cathy H of Dearborn admits the efforts seem like man is being praised and not God, “I think the whole pope thing is exciting but some Catholics act like the pope is God, he is just a man and he can fall just like anyone.”
“If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” Galatians 1:9-10.
Whether having a pope leads a soul to Christ or not, God lives in everyone and comes from a place of true love which has no traces of selfishness or personal agenda and world status but thrives on the spiritual progression of others. Understand that no one man can solve the problems of all but keeping trust in God ensures long life, peace, prosperity and the ability to do greatly beyond what the mind can predict. Trusting in the pope is fine but not an infallible act because all are subject to disastrous errors that claim lives and lead many astray, trust in the Lord before the ability of self.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not ye own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Cardinals will hold a final conclave meeting on Monday, March 11, to discuss issues of the church. The 115 cardinals will take part in the selection process with continual voting at least four times a day until the two-thirds majority is reached or 77 corresponding votes are submitted. A private ballot will commence on Tuesday, in Rome.