What Will Happen Once the Pope Is Elected?

Proceedings From Election to 1st Apostolic Blessing

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Drawing from the booklet «Conclave» by Monsignor Charles Burns, the ecclesiastical adviser at the British Embassy to the Holy See, here is a summary of the proceedings that will occur once the cardinals choose a new pope.

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As soon as a cardinal has received two-thirds plus one of the vote (in this case, it will be 77 votes), the junior Cardinal Deacon summons the Secretary of the College and the Master of Papal Liturgical Ceremonies back to the Sistine Chapel. (They leave the cardinals alone during the voting process.)

The dean or the cardinal of highest precedence, in this case it will be Cardinal Re, in the name of the whole College of Electors, will ask the consent of the newly elected with the words: Do you accept our canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?

Having received his assent, the cardinal continues: By what name do you wish to be called?

The Pope declares the name he wishes to assume during his pontificate. 

The Master of Liturgical Ceremonies acting as notary, and the two Masters of Ceremonies as witnesses, draw up a document certifying the new Pope’s acceptance and the name he wishes to assume as Pontiff.

After the new Pope declares his name, the ballots are burned so that white smoke is generated.

After his acceptance, the newly elected, provided he is already a bishop, becomes immediately Bishop of Rome, true Pope and Head of the College of Bishops, acquiring full and supreme authority over the Universal Church.

At this juncture, he will be accompanied by the Masters of Ceremonies to a small robing room, (known as the Room of Tears) situated immediately behind the imposing fresco of the ‘Last Judgement’, where they assist him to divest from his scarlet robes as a Cardinal and don the traditional white vesture of a Pope. Three sizes of soutane, large, medium and small, are in readiness to be rapidly adjusted to meet his personal requirements, together with the white moir, silk fascia and skull-cap, the lace rochet, or surplice, the crimson silk mozzetta — a sort of shoulder cape — the red morocco leather slippers and the elaborate gold embroidered red velvet stole.

Back in the Sistine Chapel, a small ceremony is held with the reading of Matthew 16:13-19: You are Peter, and on this rock, I shall build my church.

Then one by one in order of rank within each class, the Electors must first pay homage and obedience to the new Pope followed by a solemn act of thanksgiving to God intoning the Latin hymn Te Deum.

This is the moment when the senior Cardinal Deacon, in this case Jean-Louis Tauran, announces from the central balcony of St Peter’s that a canonical election has taken place and proclaims the identity of the newly elect and the pontifical name he intends to adopt. This proclamation is made using the Latin formula: ‘Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam. Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum N. Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem N., qui sibi nomen imposuit N. ’, meaning: I announce a great joy to you; we have a Pope! The most Eminent and most Reverend Lord, the Lord N. (baptismal name) Cardinal N. (surname) of the Holy Roman Church, who has taken the name of N. (his choice of pontifical name).

The new Holy Father, meanwhile — and this is a novelty — goes to the Cappella Paolina to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

The new Pope will then make his appearance on the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica and impart from there the first Apostolic Blessing Urbi et Orbi  – to the City and to the World.

At Benedict XVI’s election, some 45 minutes passed between the smoke and the arrival of the Cardinal Deacon to the balcony. Another 10 minutes passed before Benedict XVI appeared to give his blessing.

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On the Net

«Conclave» is available for free download here: http://www.ctsbooks.org/pope/

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