5 March 2013
The stovepipe that carries the smoke from burning conclave ballots and documents is seen in the Sistine Chapel after it was made ready for the 2005 conclave. Both Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have remarked on the inspiration of Michelangelo’s frescos during the deliberations and rituals of the conclave. Reports indicate that the Sistine Chapel will be closed to the public after Tuesday, to prepare for the conclave. (photo: CNS)
Amid building anticipation for the beginning of the conclave, those cardinals who participated in the 2005 conclave recount their experiences. CNS reports:
Less than half of the 117 cardinals eligible to vote for a successor to Pope Benedict XVI were in the 2005 conclave that elected him.
Two of those that were — Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa and South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier — described the scene as being one of deep prayer and trembling.
Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga told Catholic News Service that, during the conclave, the cardinals spend most of their time in the Sistine Chapel, even though they cast ballots only four times a day.
The time in the chapel includes prayer, writing names on ballots and counting them. But when casting each vote, each cardinal must stand and publicly swear, in Latin, that he is voting according to his conscience. With 115 cardinal-electors expected, that will take time.
“In front of the crucifix and in front of the ’Final Judgment’ painting, we say, ’I call Jesus as a witness, and he will judge me that I have elected according to my conscience,’ so you can imagine … why it takes so long. And in the meantime, when everybody is casting their votes, we are praying, so it is like a big cenacle of prayer.”
“This is beautiful,” Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga said. “This is the most loving experience, how an election should be. I wish all the elections in the world could be like that: in an atmosphere of prayer.” …
U.S. Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, who celebrated his 80th birthday last July and is ineligible to enter this conclave, told CNS, “The conclave is basically an extended liturgy,” with prayer punctuating every moment of the day, including the voting.
Read the rest here.
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