Cardinals to Enter Conclave in Solemn Procession

Take Oath of Secrecy

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2005 ( Despite the secrecy of the conclave itself, the rites surrounding the election of a new pope are explained in Vatican documents available to all the faithful.

The document explaining the rites of the conclave is «Ordo Rituum Conclavis,» and it was written in accordance with John Paul II’s apostolic constitution «Universi Dominici Gregis,» which specifies the norms on the election of the Supreme Pontiff.
<br> The entry in conclave will take place on Monday afternoon after the morning Mass «For the election of the Supreme Pontiff,» which will be concelebrated at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica by all the cardinal electors. The Mass is open to the faithful.

At 4:40 p.m., the 115 electors will gather in the Hall of Blessings. Once they are all gathered together, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, will begin the rite of entry saying: «In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.»

The cardinals will respond: «Amen.»

Cardinal Ratzinger will continue: «The Lord, who guides our hearts in the love and patience of Christ be with you all.»

The cardinals will respond: «And with your spirit.»

Then, addressing those present, he will continue: «Venerable Brothers: after having celebrated the divine mysteries we now enter in conclave to elect the Roman Pontiff. The whole Church, united to us in prayer, invokes at this moment the grace of the Holy Spirit so that we will elect a worthy Pastor of the whole flock of Christ. May the Lord direct our steps on the path of truth, so that by the intercession of the ever Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of all the saints, we will always do what is pleasing to him.»

The cardinals will then process to the Sistine Chapel.

The secretary of the College of Cardinals and Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, 85, a non-elector, chosen to give a meditation before the voting begins, will head the procession.

The cardinals will process in the order according to their place in the College of Cardinals: deacons, presbyters and bishops, the deacon who carries the Book of the Gospels, and finally the cardinal dean together with the master of liturgical celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

During the procession, there will be alternating choirs singing the Litanies of the Saints of the East and West, to highlight the universal character of the conclave.

The hymn to the Holy Sprit, «Veni Creator,» will be sung at the end of the procession, when all have arrived in the Sistine Chapel.

Once in the chapel, the cardinals will sit in assigned places. The Book of the Gospels will be placed in an appropriate and worthy place, so that it presides over the celebration and deliberations of the cardinals until the new pope is elected.

The cardinal electors will take the oath of secrecy of the conclave: «Each and every one of us cardinal electors present in this election of the Supreme Pontiff promise, oblige ourselves, and swear to observe faithfully and scrupulously all the prescriptions» of the conclave.

The cardinals will continue: «Likewise we promise, oblige ourselves and swear that, whichever one of us, by divine disposition, is elected Roman Pontiff, will commit himself to carry out faithfully the ‘munus petrinum’ of Pastor of the universal Church and will not fail to affirm and defend boldly the spiritual and temporal rights as well as the freedom of the Holy See.

«Above all, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all, both clergy and laity, the secrecy on everything related in any way with the election of the Roman Pontiff and on what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly, concerning the ballot; not to violate in any way this secrecy both during as well as after the election of the new Pontiff, unless explicit authorization is given by the Pontiff himself; not to support or favor any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention with which secular authorities or any order or degree, or any group of persons or individuals might like to meddle in the election of the Roman Pontiff.»

And at the end, each one of the cardinal electors, according to order of precedence, will touch the Holy Gospels, and take the oath with the following formula: «And I, N. Cardinal N. promise, oblige myself, and swear.»

And, placing his hand on the Gospels, each will add: «So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.»

After the last of the cardinal electors has taken the oath, the master of the liturgical celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff will pronounce the «Extra Omnes» (all out), and all those not participating in the conclave will have to leave the Sistine Chapel, except for the master and the cardinal chosen to give the opening meditation.

The meditation will focus on the grave duty the cardinals face, and on the need to seek only the will of God and look only to the good of the whole Church.

Once the preaching is concluded, Cardinal Spidlik will leave the Sistine Chapel together with the master of the liturgical celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

The doors will be closed and guards will be posted on all the entrances to the chapel.

The cardinal dean, ear of the college of electors, will ask them if the process of election can begin.

If there is nothing to impede it, according to the majority of the electors, one vote can take place the first day.

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