Pope Benedict amends rules for Conclaves

In a motu propio released this morning, Pope Benedict XVI amended the rules regarding the beginning of a conclave. Up until today, the cardinal-electors had to wait 15 days before beginning the ancient meeting in which the new Pope will be elected. Now they can move the start date up, so long as all of the cardinal-electors are present and vote to do so. He also gave them the authority to actually add a few days to the waiting period, but the conclave must begin no more than 20 days after the start of the “sede vacante.”

Since Pope Benedict’s resignation will not be effective until Thursday, February 28, at 8:00 p.m. Rome time, the earliest possible General Congregation of the College of Cardinals could not take place before Friday, March 1. Beginning with that date, the Cardinals will be able to set the date for the beginning of the conclave.

The Pope also set out new rules about who and how many non-Cardinals can be present in the Conclave as support staff.

Additionally, all the non-Cardinals present must take a solemn oath of secrecy. Should they violate that oath, the penalty is automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church. This now gives a prescribed penalty for this offense. Prior to this, the punishment was left up to the new Pope. Now the excommunication is automatic, so that the new Pontiff will not have to deal with it.

Stay tuned, folks. Rummor has it that there’s a lot more to come!

The Concho Padre

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