26 February 2013

Normas Nonnullas: Changes to the Papal Conclave

On Monday, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, issued motu proprio an Apostolic Letter amending the guidelines for a Papal Conclave and Election.  As is custom, the name of the document is formed from the first few words of the text in Latin, in this case Normas nonnullas.  It amends the original norms issued by Bl. Pope John Paul II in 1996, Universi dominici gregis.  It also includes earlier changes that Pope Benedict XVI himself made in the Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio, Constitutione apostolica.  I have done a comparison of the changed paragraphs of Universi dominici gregis with Normas nonnullas.  Below is a brief descriptions of all of the changes in the election process, referencing the appropriate paragraph of Universi dominici gregis:
  •           № 35: A technical change to include a reference to para. 75, regarding the timing of the beginning of an election. 
  •           № 37: The phrasing of the timing was altered.  It now says that from the moment the Apostolic See is vacant, there should be a waiting period of 15 full days before the start of the Conclave.  It is left to the Cardinals to alter this in two ways.  First, if all of the Cardinal electors are present, they may begin earlier.  Second, for a very grave reason, they may delay it a few days.  The requirement that the Conclave begin no later than 20 following the vacancy remains.
  •           № 43: In managing the areas closed to the public, the Cardinal Camerlengo is now assisted by the Vice Camerlengo, as well as the Substitute of the Secretariat of State.  It also allows for the Cleric Prelates of the Apostolic Camera to assist in the efforts to ensure that the Cardinal electors are not approached along the route from their residence to the Vatican Palace.
  •           № 46: Allows for eight (rather than 2) Masters of Ceremonies to be made available to assist at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
  •           № 47:  Binds to the obligation of secrecy the technicians who sweep for sound recording equipment according to para. 55.
  •           № 48: Adds to those taking the oath of secrecy the technicians who sweep for sound recording equipment according to para. 55.  It also changes the wording of the oath of secrecy.  Most importantly, it recognizes that a penalty of excommunication latae sententiae is imposed on anyone who violates the oath.  That means, that the penalty is automatically imposed by the law.  It reserves to the Apostolic See alone the power to lift this excommunication.
  •           № 49: Cleans up the wording of this paragraph to conform the timing of the beginning of the Conclave to what was set out in para. 37. 
  •           № 50:  The following also participate in the procession from the Pauline Chapel to the Apostolic Palace when the election begins:  the Vice Cemerlengo, the Auditor General of the Apostolic Camera, and two members each of the Colleges of the Apostolic Prenotaries from the number of participants,  of the Auditor Prelates of the Roman Rota, and of the Cleric Prelates of the Apostolic Camera. 
  •           № 51:  Allows the Vice Camerlengo to assist in preparing the Sistine Chapel for the election.
  •           № 55:  Those who attempt to violate the secrecy of the Conclave by recording equipment are subject to excommunication latae sententiae (rather than just a “grave penalty”).
  •           № 62: Clarifies that the 2/3 vote required is taken from those present and voting (and not simply from those present).  Interestingly, it also seems to delete the language that says if the number of electors cannot be divided into three equal parts, you need a 2/3 vote +1.  That is to say, if there are, for example, 119 electors, a 2/3 vote would be 79 1/3.  You obviously can’t have a third of a vote, so you would need 80 votes.  Canon law already seems to assume this, so this deletion does not seem to change anything.
  •           № 64: It adds a reference that the Secretary of the College of Cardinals and the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations are recalled to the election hall during the “pre-scrutiny” phase.
  •           № 70: Makes a technical clean-up change saying that at least 2/3 are necessary for election.  This clean-up probably explains the deletion of the language in para. 62.
  •           № 75:  This paragraph is significantly changed to conform to Pope Benedict’s earlier change to the voting procedures.  In effect, it now requires that of a Pope has not been elected after three days, they take a day for prayer, reflection and dialogue.  After that, the only two who may be elected (who have “passive voice”, to use the canonical term) are the two who received the highest number of votes in the last vote.  The person to be elected still needs at least a 2/3 vote to be validly elected, rather than the simple majority that Bl. Pope John Paul II has established.  The two who have “passive voice” (i.e., can be elected) do not have “active voice” (i.e., they may not vote, and their number does not count in determining the 2/3 majority).   
  •           № 87:  Adds the two Masters of Ceremonies to those who are summoned into the election hall after the valid election of a Pope.