Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Conclave Begins: Here's What's Happening


I could care less about the cape, God. Just gimme the crown. 

So it's under way.  The bishops had Mass this morning Italy time and are now locked away, preparing to cast their first ballot.

Here's what's happening, in a nutshell:

First, the Cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel and take an oath of secrecy, and the Cardinals 80 years and older leave. (To vote, you must be 80 or under.) An electronic shield blankets the Conclave so that no communication can get in or out.

Each Cardinal is given a rectangular ballot with the words "Eligo in Summum Pontificem" -- aka "I select for the Supreme Pontiff" -- and a blank below which they fill out.

The ballots are collected in an urn. When the vote is over, they're transferred to a second urn where they're counted.

To win, a candidate needs two-thirds of the votes; that's 77 in the current Conclave (115 Cardinals voting).

If no one gets 77, they burn the ballots and let off a trail of grey smoke to reveal that a vote has happened, but no one has been elected.


The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. 

Then they're adjourned until the next time they are to vote. Today they'll vote only once. Every subsequent day they'll vote twice in the morning, twice in the afternoon.

If someone gets 77, they are asked whether they are willing to be Pope. It's an interesting twist -- a person can say no.  Supposedly, when Benedict was elected he wept -- and those weren't tears of joy.

If they say yes, they let off a plume of white smoke to reveal a Pope has been selected.  And then we wait for them to come out. Their presentation is preceded by a senior Cardinal announcing "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam" -- "I announce to you great joy. We have a Pope" -- followed by his given name (in Latin), then his new Papal name.

Then the new Pope steps forward to make his first address and issue his first public blessing.

A couple factoids about this Conclave: 
The electors come from 48 countries.  
Italy has the biggest bloc with 28 Cardinals. 
The next biggest is the US with 11.
60 Cardinals come from Europe, 
19 from Latin America
14 from North America,
11 from Africa, 
10 from Asia
and 1 from Australia.

So, here we go... May the best man win. 

(Really. Please! May the best man win.) 


(Oh please God, let it be me. Let it be me. Let it be.

 I know I will totally be good at this. I've been reading up and everything.
Seriously.) 

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