Pope's Advice to the One Elected

In 1996 Document on the Vacant See

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II’s 1996 exhortation to whoever is elected the next pope could be spelled out in three words: Be not afraid.

In the norms for the election of a pope, the Holy Father entreated whoever is elected in the conclave, which began today, «not to refuse, for fear of its weight, the office to which he has been called, but to submit humbly to the design of the divine will.»

«God who imposes the burden will sustain him with his hand, so that he will be able to bear it,» John Paul II wrote in the apostolic constitution «Universi Dominici Gregis,» No. 86.

When the 115 cardinal electors have concluded the election with success, the «Ordo Rituum Conclavis» (Rites of the Conclave) points out that the last of the cardinal deacons will call to the Sistine Chapel the secretary of the College of Cardinals, the master of pontifical liturgical celebrations and two aides.

Then the cardinal dean, in the name of the whole college of electors, will request the consent of the one who has been elected with the following words: «Acceptasne electionem de te canonice factam in Summum Pontificem?» Do you accept your canonical election for Supreme Pontiff?

As soon as he receives the consent of the one elected, he will ask him: «Quod nomine vis vocari?» By what name do you wish to be called?

The new pope will indicate the name on which he has decided, with the following or similar words: «Vocabor N.» — I will be called N.

Then the master of pontifical liturgical celebrations, acting as notary and having as witnesses two aides, will draw up the new pontiff’s Act of Acceptance and the name he has adopted.

Also at the end of the election, the cardinal chamberlain will have written a document, which must be approved by the three assistant cardinals, in which he declares the result of the voting in each session.

«This document is to be given to the Pope and will thereafter be kept in a designated archive, enclosed in a sealed envelope, which may be opened by no one unless the Supreme Pontiff grants explicit permission,» states «Universi Dominici Gregis,» No. 71.

No provision is made for the one elected to take any oath of acceptance.

In fact, when entering the conclave and before proceeding with the election, the cardinal electors have already sworn: «We likewise promise, pledge and swear that whichever of us by divine disposition is elected Roman Pontiff will commit himself faithfully to carrying out the ‘munus Petrinum’ of Pastor of the universal Church and will not fail to affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and the liberty of the Holy See.»

«Universi Dominici Gregis» provides for the eventuality that the one elected resides outside Vatican City — that is, that he is not among the electors.

In that case, the presiding cardinal and the two assistant cardinals are to call the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, at present Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who will act cautiously so that the one elected will arrive as soon as possible in Rome, «avoiding absolutely the means of social communication,» so that the secrecy of the conclave is not violated.

In any case, if the one who is elected does not accept, the elective process will start again.

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