How the CC is Run

i Catholic
Governance of our Catholic Church
Assembled by Pat Miron

Later this month the Pope will call a “Consistory.” This one primarily for the election of New Cardinals. I thought this an excellent opportunity to share some information on selection of Cardinals, election of Popes and Church Governance.

CONSISTORY. An ecclesiastical court, especially an assembly of cardinals for purposes of deliberation, presided over by the Pope. A papal consistory is secret if only cardinals are present, semi-public if bishops also participate, and public if other prelates are called to the meeting. (Etym. Latin consistere, to stand together.) FROM: [Father Hardon’s Modern catholic Dictionary]

FROM the Catholic Encyclopedia

“Origin and historical development

The origin of the papal consistory is closely connected with the history of the Roman presbytery or body of the Roman clergy. In the old Roman presbyterium there were deacons, in charge of the ecclesiastical temporalities in the various regions of Rome; priests, at the head of the principal churches of the city, called tituli; and (at least by the eighth century) the bishops of the dioceses in the neighborhood of Rome. The cardinals of today (divided likewise into the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons) have succeeded the members of the ancient presbytery not only in the offices attaching to these three grades, though with somewhat different functions, but also, and chiefly, in the capacity of assisting the pope in the management of ecclesiastical affairs.

From the earliest Christian times the popes were wont to confer with the Roman presbytery on matters affecting the interests of the Church. From a letter of Pope Cornelius (254-255) to St. Cyprian we learn that he had summoned his presbytery before agreeing to the reconciliation of three schismatics. Likewise, Pope Liberius (352-363) informed the Roman clergy about the course of action he had deemed advisable to take during his exile. Pope Siricius (384-398) condemned the heresy of Jovinian after having convoked his presbytery. How far the more prominent members of the Roman clergy, eventually called cardinals, were being gradually entrusted with the management of ecclesiastical affairs is shown by the action of Leo IV and John VIII in the ninth century. The former ordered that the Roman cardinals should meet twice a week in the Sacred Palace to provide for the administration of the churches, look after the discipline of the clergy, and decide the cases of laymen. The latter ordered them to meet at least twice a month in order to take cognizance of and decide cases of clerics and laymen brought before the pope’s tribunal. For many centuries, however, the Roman presbytery did not form the senate of the popes to the exclusion of all other clerics, at least in matters of greater importance. These matters were discussed and decided in the Roman council, which, though admitting the Roman clergy to an active part, consisted chiefly of bishops summoned by the pope from the greater part of Italy, as well as of other bishops who happened to be in Rome at the time. These councils were very frequent until the beginning of the twelfth century. Thenceforth, the popes held them more rarely finding it difficult to convoke them as often as the ever increasing volume of business demanded. In their stead the popes transacted the affairs brought before their court in the presence and with the assistance of the Roman cardinals, who about the same time had grown in dignity and importance, owing to the fact that the right of electing the pope now rested in them exclusively. Thus the Sacred College of Cardinals, assembled in consistory, became the chief organ of the supreme and universal government of the Church.

At first, matters of judicial as well as of administrative character were referred to the consistory. In course of time, however, the former were transferred to the Tribunal of the Sacred Rota. The “Corpus Juris” contains many of the decisions given by the popes in consistory, as is evidenced by the frequent formula de fratrun nostrorum consilio (with the advice of our brethren). The papal consistory has continued ever since to act as the supreme council of the popes, though it lost much of its importance when in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Roman Congregations were instituted. The amount of business brought before the Holy See had gradually increased to such a vast extent that it had to be divided among several particular committees of cardinals. These committees were at first temporary but gradually became permanent, and to each of them a definite kind of ecclesiastical affairs was assigned. These permanent committees came to be known as congregations. The first of them was instituted by Paul III, others by Pius IV and Pius V, but most of them owe their origin to Sixtus V. Once the Roman Congregations, embracing in their scope almost the whole range of ecclesiastical affairs, were instituted, it was but natural that the papal consistory should lose in importance. However, it did not go into desuetude altogether; it continued to be held, but more rarely, and only in the form which me proceed to describe.”

Present practice

“Consistories are of three kinds: secret or ordinary, public or extraordinary and semi-public.”

(1) The secret consistory is so called because no one save the pope and the cardinals is present at its deliberations. Formerly it was customary for the pope, soon after entering the hall of consistory, to confer singly with the cardinals on such personal matters as they wished to bring before him, and it was only after this audience was over that nobles and prelates were excluded from the hall. But at the present day this audience is omitted. The consistory is frequently opened with an address, or allocution, in which the pope often reviews the condition of the Church in general or in some particular country, pointing out what deserves praise or needs to be condemned. Such allocutions are afterwards given to the public in order that the world at large may know the mind of the pope on these matters. At the end of the allocution the creation of new cardinals takes place. The pope announces the names of those whom he intends to raise to the cardinalate, and asks the cardinals for their opinion; the cardinals remove their caps as a sign of consent, and the pope proceeds immediately to the formal appointment. It is also in the secret consistory that the cardinals receive from the pope the cardinal’s ring, are appointed to some titular church or deaconry, exercise the option of passing from one titular church to another, and of ascending from the order of deacons and priests to the order of priests and bishops respectively. It is also here that the pope appoints the camerlengo and the Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, and performs the ceremony of “closing” and “opening” the mouth of the new cardinals. To this consistory belong also the appointments of bishops, archbishops, and patriarchs, the transfers of these dignitaries from one see to another, the appointments of coadjutors, the creation and announcement of new dioceses, the division and union of dioceses already existing. But the details are not discussed in the consistory itself. All the previous consultations that are required in order that the pope may come to a prudent conclusion have taken place in a congregation called consistorial, and the pope in the consistory itself only gives his decision. There are some sees whose bishops are appointed through a Brief outside the consistory. Such are those in territories depending on the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda, and others as necessity may require. These appointments are merely promulgated in the secret consistory. At the end of the consistory the advocates called consistorial are admitted to request, with the usual formalities, the pallium [a specially constructed out of lambs wool kind of stole”]. for newly appointed archbishops; their petition is granted immediately, but the conferring of the pallium takes place later.

(2) The public consistory is so called because persons foreign to the Sacred College of Cardinals, such as Apostolic prothonotaries, the auditors of the Sacred Rota, and other prelates are called to it. Laymen also, who have made previous application, are permitted to be present. Formerly, in this consistory the pope used to give solemn reception to kings, princes, and ambassadors; but this is no longer the custom. In the public consistory the pope performs the ceremony of delivering the red hat to the newly created cardinals.

Moreover, the consistorial advocates plead here the causes of beatification and canonization. These pleadings are of two kinds. In the first permission is asked that the ordinary process of beatification or canonization may be introduced, or continued, or brought to completion. The second has reference only to causes of canonization. For in accordance with the practice of the Holy See, even after it has been conclusively proved that the miracles required for canonization have been performed through the intercession of one declared blessed, the honours of a saint are not decreed to him, unless the question as to whether canonization should take place has been treated in three consistories: secret, public, and semi-public

. In the secret consistory the pope asks the opinions of the cardinals, who express it singly by answering placet or non placet (aye or no). In the public consistory one of the consistorial advocates pleads the cause and a prelate answers in the pope’s name, inviting all to pray in order that the pope may be enlightened on the subject. The final voting takes place in the semi-public consistory.

(3) The semi-public consistory is so called because, besides the cardinals, bishops also take part in it. To this consistory the bishops residing within one hundred miles of Rome are summoned, while invitations are sent to all the other bishops of Italy; moreover, titular patriarchs and archbishops and bishops who live in Rome, as well as bishops who happen to be sojourning there at the time, are likewise present. After all the Fathers have expressed their opinions on the subject, the pope closes the assembly with an address on the following canonization. With regard to the time for holding the consistories, the old practice of assembling them at fixed intervals has passed out of use and today they meet, as occasion demands, at the pope’s wish.

So who can and does VOTE for a New Pope?
& Church Governance


Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.

Can. 332 §1. The Roman Pontiff obtains full and supreme power in the Church by his acceptance of legitimate election together with episcopal consecration. Therefore, a person elected to the supreme pontificate who is marked with episcopal character obtains this power from the moment of acceptance. If the person elected lacks episcopal character, however, he is to be ordained a bishop immediately.
§2. If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.

Can. 333 §1. By virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff not only possesses power offer the universal Church but also obtains the primacy of ordinary power offer all particular churches and groups of them. Moreover, this primacy strengthens and protects the proper, ordinary, and immediate power which bishops possess in the particular churches entrusted to their care.

§2. In fulfilling the office of supreme pastor of the Church, the Roman Pontiff is always joined in communion with the other bishops and with the universal Church. He nevertheless has the right, according to the needs of the Church, to determine the manner, whether personal or collegial, of exercising this office.

§3. No appeal or recourse is permitted against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff.


Can. 336 The college of bishops, whose head is the Supreme Pontiff and whose members are bishops by virtue of sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college and in which the apostolic body continues, together with its head and never without this head, is also the subject of supreme and full power offer the universal Church.

Can. 337 §1. The college of bishops exercises power offer the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council.

§2. It exercises the same power through the united action of the bishops dispersed in the world, which the Roman Pontiff has publicly declared or freely accepted as such so that it becomes a true collegial act.

§3. It is for the Roman Pontiff, according to the needs of the Church, to select and promote the ways by which the college of bishops is to exercise its function collegially regarding the universal Church.

Can. 338 §1. It is for the Roman Pontiff alone to convoke an ecumenical council, preside offer it personally or through others, transfer, suspend, or dissolve a council, and to approve its decrees.

§2. It is for the Roman Pontiff to determine the matters to be treated in a council and establish the order to be observed in a council. To the questions proposed by the Roman Pontiff, the council fathers can add others which are to be approved by the Roman Pontiff.

Can. 339 §1. All the bishops and only the bishops who are members of the college of bishops have the right and duty to take part in an ecumenical council with a deliberative vote.

§2. Moreover, some others who are not bishops can be called to an ecumenical council by the supreme authority of the Church, to whom it belongs to determine their roles in the council.

Can. 341 §1. The decrees of an ecumenical council do not have obligatory force unless they have been approved by the Roman Pontiff together with the council fathers, confirmed by him, and promulgated at his order.
§2. To have obligatory force, decrees which the college of bishops issues when it places a truly collegial action in another way initiated or freely accepted by the Roman Pontiff need the same confirmation and promulgation.


Can. 342 The synod of bishops is a group of bishops who have been chosen from different regions of the world and meet together at fixed times to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline, and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world.

Can. 343 It is for the synod of bishops to discuss the questions for consideration and express its wishes but not to resolve them or issue decrees about them unless in certain cases the Roman Pontiff has endowed it with deliberative power, in which case he ratifies the decisions of the synod.

Can. 344 The synod of bishops is directly subject to the authority of the Roman Pontiff who:

1/ convokes a synod as often as it seems opportune to him and designates the place where its sessions are to be held;

2/ radios the election of members who must be elected according to the norm of special law and designates and appoints other members;

3/ determines at an appropriate time before the celebration of a synod the contents of the questions to be treated, according to the norm of special law;

4/ defines the agenda;

5/ presides at the synod personally or through others;

6/ concludes, transfers, suspends, and dissolves the synod.


Can. 351 §1. The Roman Pontiff freely selects men to be promoted as cardinals, who have been ordained at least into the order of the presbyterate and are especially outstanding in doctrine, morals, piety, and prudence in action; those who are not yet bishops must receive episcopal consecration.

§2. Cardinals are created by a decree of the Roman Pontiff which is made public in the presence of the college of cardinals. From the moment of the announcement they are bound by the duties and possess the rights defined by law.

§3. When the Roman Pontiff has announced the selection of a person to the dignity of cardinal but reserves the name of the person in pectore, the one promoted is not bound in the meantime by any of the duties of cardinals nor does he possess any of their rights. After the Roman Pontiff has made his name public, however, he is bound by the same duties and possesses the same rights; he possesses the right of precedence, though, from the day of reservation in pectore.

Can. 352 §1. The dean presides offer the college of cardinals; if he is impeded, the assistant dean takes his place.

Neither the dean nor the assistant dean possesses any power of governance offer the other cardinals but is considered as first among equals.

§2. When the office of dean is vacant, the cardinals who possess title to a suburbicarian church and they alone are to elect one from their own group who is to act as dean of the college; the assistant dean, if he is present, or else the oldest among them, presides at this election. They are to submit the name of the person elected to the Roman Pontiff who is competent to approve him.

§3. The assistant dean is elected in the same manner as that described in §2, with the dean
himself presiding.

The Roman Pontiff is also competent to approve the election of the assistant dean.

Can. 353 §1. The cardinals especially assist the supreme pastor of the Church through collegial action in consistories in which they are gathered by order of the Roman Pontiff who presides. Consistories are either ordinary or extraordinary.

§2. For an ordinary consistory, all the cardinals, at least those present in Rome, are called together to be consulted concerning certain grave matters which occur rather frequently or to carry out certain very solemn acts.

§3. For an extraordinary consistory, which is celebrated when particular needs of the Church or the treatment of more grave affairs suggests it, all the cardinals are called together.

§4. Only the ordinary consistory in which some solemnities are celebrated can be public, that is, when prelates, representatives of civil societies, and others who have been invited to it are admitted in addition to the cardinals.

Can. 354 The cardinals who preside offer dicasteries [Departments of the Roman Curia] and other permanent institutes of the Roman Curia and Vatican City and who have completed the seventy-fifth year of age are asked to submit their resignation from office to the Roman Pontiff who will see to the matter after considering the circumstances.

Can. 355 §1. The cardinal dean is competent to ordain as a bishop the one elected as Roman Pontiff if he needs to be ordained; if the dean is impeded, the assistant dean has the same right, and if he is impeded, the oldest cardinal from the episcopal order.

§2. The senior cardinal deacon announces the name of the newly elected Supreme Pontiff to the people; likewise, in the place of the Roman Pontiff, he places the pallium upon metropolitans or hands it offer to their proxies.

Can. 356 Cardinals are obliged to cooperate assiduously with the Roman Pontiff; therefore, cardinals who exercise any office in the curia and who are not diocesan bishops are obliged to reside in Rome. Cardinals who have the care of some diocese as the diocesan bishop are to go to Rome whenever the Roman Pontiff calls them.

Can. 357 §1. The cardinals who have been assigned title to a suburbicarian church or a church in Rome are to promote the good of these dioceses or churches by counsel and patronage after they have taken possession of them.

Nevertheless, they possess no power of governance offer them nor are they to intervene in any way in those matters which pertain to the administration of their goods, their discipline, or the service of the churches.

§2. In those matters which pertain to their own person, cardinals living outside of Rome and outside their own diocese are exempt from the power of governance of the bishop of the diocese in which they are residing.

Can. 358 A cardinal to whom the Roman Pontiff entrusts the function of representing him in some solemn celebration or among some group of persons as a legates a latere, that is, as his alter ego, as well as one to whom the Roman Pontiff entrusts the fulfillment of a certain pastoral function as his special envoy (missus specialis) has competence only offer those things which the Roman Pontiff commits to him.

Can. 359 When the Apostolic See is vacant, the college of cardinals possesses only that power in the Church which is attributed to it in special law.


Can. 360 The Supreme Pontiff usually conducts the affairs of the universal Church through the Roman Curia which performs its function in his name and by his authority for the good and service of the churches. The Roman Curia consists of the Secretariat of State or the Papal Secretariat, the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, congregations, tribunals, and other institutes; the constitution and competence of all these are defined in special law.

Can. 361 In this Code, the term Apostolic See or Holy See refers not only to the Roman Pontiff but also to the Secretariat of State, the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, and other institutes of the Roman Curia, unless it is otherwise apparent from the nature of the matter or the context of the words.

Electing a Pope
by Paul McLachlan

New rules
Popes are elected by the College of Cardinals meeting in Conclave when the Apostolic See falls vacant.

Pope Paul VI significantly changed the rules for conclaves in 1975 when he promulgated the Apostolic Constitution Romano Pontifico Eligendo. He excluded all cardinals 80 years old or over from the conclave and made provision to prevent any bugging of the Sistine Chapel.

It was according to these rules that Albano Luciano, Patriarch of Venice, was elected Pope John Paul I and that a little over a month later, Karol Wojtyla, Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, was elected Pope John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II himself promulgated a whole new set of rules in 1996 in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis.

He has not departed radically from the traditional structure. But he has made some significant changes:

if no cardinal has been elected by two-thirds majority after a certain number of ballots, the cardinals may agree by absolute majority (half + 1) to elect the Pope by an absolute majority instead of a two-thirds majority
rather than stay in uncomfortable, makeshift quarters in the Papal Palace, the Cardinals will stay in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, hotel-style accommodation in Vatican City
the only remaining method of electing the Pope is by scrutiny, ie, silent ballot — the methods of election by acclamation and by committee have been excluded (but were rarely used)
the older cardinals are still unable to enter the conclave, but they are invited to take an active role in the preparatory meetings
the rules on secrecy are tougher

The maximum number of Cardinal Electors allowed at any one time is 120. The Pope cannot raise more than 120 men under 80 to the Cardinalate at any one time. (Of course, being Pope, he can also dispense himself with compliance with that rule! On the last two occasions, the Pope named new cardinals soon after the number of electors fell below 120. There were as high as 135 electors at some stages.) As at April 2005, there are 117 Cardinals eligible to vote in Conclave. (Only 115 of them entered the 2005 Conclave, as two of them were too ill to travel to Rome for the Conclave.)

The Pope dies

When the Pope dies, the Cardinal Camerlengo (currently Eduardo Cardinal Martinez Somalo) must verify the death, traditionally by calling the Pope three times by his name without response (although this is only a ritual &emdash; the death is verified by medical staff). He must then authorize a death certificate and make the event public by notifying the Cardinal Vicar for the Diocese of Rome (currently Camillo Cardinal Ruini). The Camerlengo then seals the Pope’s private apartments. He would also arrange for the “ring of the fisherman” and the papal seal to be broken. He then makes preparations for the Papal funeral rites and the novemdieles, the nine days of mourning.

The Interregnum

During the interregnum, [interim] it is the Camerlengo [The Cardinal appointed Treasure og the CC and who is the head of the Concave] who is responsible for the government of the Church. He must arrange the funeral and burial of the Pope. He directs the election of a new pope, assisted by three Cardinals, elected by the College of Cardinals, with three replacement Cardinals elected every three days.

All heads of the dicasteries [departments] of the Roman Curia are suspended from exercising their authority during the interregnum (and are expected to resign their posts immediately on the election of the new Pope). The only exceptions to this are the Cardinal Camerlengo, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, the Major Penitentiary (James Cardinal Stafford), the Cardinal Archpriest of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vicar-General for Vatican City (both offices are held by Francesco Cardinal Marchisano). These continue in their posts during the interregnum.

After 15-20 days of “General Congregations”, sermons at their Titular Churches on what kind of Pope the Church needs, and mourning for the Pope after his funeral, the Cardinal Electors enter the Conclave to choose which of them will emerge as Holy Roman Pontiff.

The Conclave
The Cardinals must take an oath when they first enter the Conclave that they will follow the rules set down by the Pope and that they will maintain absolute secrecy about the voting and deliberations. The penalty for disclosing anything about the conclave that must be kept secret is automatic excommunication.

The Cardinals all take seats around the wall of the Sistine Chapel and take a ballot paper on which is written “Eligo in summum pontificem” — “I elect as supreme Pontiff…”. They then write a name on it, fold it, and then proceed one by one to approach the altar, where a chalice stands with a paten on it. They hold up their ballot high to show that they have voted, then place it on the paten, and then slide it into the chalice. The votes are then counted by the Cardinal Camerlengo and his three assistants. Each assistant reads the name, reads the name aloud, writes it down on a tally sheet and then passes it to the next assistant. The third assistant runs a needle and thread through the centre of each ballot to join them all together. The ballots are then burned, as well as all notes made. If a new Pope has been elected, the papers are burned with chemicals (it used to be wet straw) to give white smoke. Otherwise, they give off black smoke, so that the waiting crowds, and the world, know whether their new Holy Father will soon emerge from the Sistine Chapel. On 6 April 2005, it was announced that, in addition to the white smoke, the bells of St Peter’s Basilica will be rung to signal the election of the new Pope. This will avoid any doubt about whether the smoke is white or black.

Until the conclaves of 1978, each Cardinal was provided a throne and a table and a canopy (or baldachino) over their heads. Paul VI abolished the practice because, with the internationalization of the College of Cardinals, there was simply no room any more. Whereas there were only 80 electors before then, the number had risen to 120. The thrones used to be arranged in two rows, along the wall facing each other. The canopies and thrones symbolized that, during the sede vacante when there is no Pope, the Cardinals all share responsibility for the governance of the Church. To further this symbolism, once the new Pope was elected and announced the name he would use, the other Cardinals would pull on a cord and the canopy would collapse, leaving just the new Pope with his canopy aloft.

To be elected Pope, one Cardinal must receive at least two-thirds of the votes. Except that, under the new rules established by Pope John Paul II, if a certain number of ballots have taken place without any Cardinal being elected Pope, then the Cardinals may then elect by simple majority. This is an important change and may well be the most important change made. In the past, it has often been the case that a particular candidate has had solid majority support but cannot garner the required two-thirds majority, eg, because he is too conservative to satisfy the more moderate Cardinals. Therefore a compromise candidate is chosen, either an old Pope who will die soon and not do much until the next conclave (which is what was intended with John XXIII!) or someone not so hard-line wins support. The difference now will be that if, in the early ballots, one candidate has strong majority support, there is less incentive for that majority to compromise with the cardinals who are against their candidate and they simply need to sit out 30 ballots to elect their man. This may well see much more “hard-line” Popes being elected. There will also be far less incentive for the Cardinals to finish quickly as in the past. After such a long papacy, they may need time to arrive at a strong consensus on what type of papacy the Church now needs. They will also be staying in comfortable lodgings, rather than sleeping in foldaway cots in hallways and offices in the Sistine Chapel. On the other hand, the Cardinals will be reluctant for it to appear as if they are deeply divided, so there will still be an overriding desire to have a quick conclave. (No conclave in the last 200 years has lasted more than 5 days.)

The cardinals vote on the afternoon of the first day, then twice each morning and twice each afternoon. If they have not elected someone within the first three votes, then they may devote up to a day to prayer and discussion before resuming. They may do the same every seven unsuccessful votes after that.

The Cardinals are not permitted any contact with the outside world: no mobile phones, no newspapers or television, no messages or letters or signals to observers. There will be regular sweeps of all relevant areas for listening devices. The Cardinals will for the first time be able to move freely within Vatican City (eg, taking a walk in the Vatican Gardens, or walking from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Sistine Chapel). Workers in Vatican City continue to go about their business during the Conclave. If they run into a Cardinal, they are forbidden from speaking to him.

Habemus Papam!

Once a Cardinal has received the required number of votes, the Dean of the College of Cardinals asks him if he accepts election and by what name he wishes to be called as Pope. On giving assent, the Cardinal immediately becomes Pontifex Maximus, the Holy Roman Pontiff. In the unlikely event that the Cardinal chosen is not yet a bishop, the most senior Cardinal present (the Dean or Sub-Dean usually) immediately performs the ceremony to consecrate the new Pope as a bishop.

The Cardinals then pledge their obedience to His Holiness in turn. The Pope vests in his Pontifical clericals (white soutane and skull cap) — the Italian family business in Rome that makes all the Papal vestments has several different sizes prepared in readiness for His Holiness, no matter what his shape or size!

The Proto-Deacon of the College of Cardinals (currently Cardinal Medina Estevez) then steps onto the main balcony of the Vatican and declares to the World: “Habemus Papam!” “We have a Pope!” and tells the waiting world who has been chosen as the new pope and the name he has decided to take as Pope. His Holiness then appears on the Balcony and delivers his Apostolic Blessing to the city of Rome and to the World.

The Pope can ask the Cardinals to remain in Conclave one last evening. Both John Paul I and John Paul II did so, and spent their first evening as Pope with the Cardinals. A suite in the Domus Sanctae Marthae is kept free for the new Pope to stay in instead of returning to the room he occupied as a voting Cardinal during the Conclave.

Within a short time of his election, before the Cardinals return home, a formal ceremony of inauguration takes place at which the woollen pallium is bestowed upon him. The choir chants “Tu es Petrus” (Thou art Peter), the words Christ spoke to Peter when He told him he was the Rock on which Jesus would build His Church and asked him to feed His sheep.

One of the few things Pope John Paul I managed to do in his short papacy was to abolish the traditional Papal Coronation, which Pope John Paul II did not resurrect. Traditionally, the Pope would be carried around St Peter’s Square on the Sedia Gestatoria (the Papal Throne) and have the Papal Tiara placed on his head. These last two popes have done away with the monarchic symbolism of the papacy (including the use of the Royal “we”) in favour of a heightened concentration of their role as “Servus Servorum Dei” — Servant of the servants of God. It remains to be seen whether a future Pope restores some form of papal coronation ceremony, even if it does not involve a full return to some of the earlier monarchic rituals.

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed learning a bit more about our Church and how it is Governed.

Love and prayers,


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