Sunday, February 17, 2013

Six Rules and Regulations when Electing a Pope

One of the happy images
 in the Sistine Chapel

What will happen when the 117 cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope? What are the particular rites and procedures will the men of God follow? Here are six rules and regulations when electing a new pope.


1. The cardinals will swear the Oath of Groupthink.

After entering the chapel each cardinal will place a hand on the Bible and swear, "never to allow any outside information that will support interference, opposition or any other form of intervention ... in the election of the Roman Pontiff." Cardinals will not be allowed to tweet, email, phone or even pray to any saints (saints may have their personal favorite candidate and may sway the election) while the conclave is in session.

2. Nick Jr will be readily accessible at all times to the cardinals

Being sequestered while debating and voting for the new pope can be taxing. The Vatican has allowed Nick Jr, the cable channel for preschoolers, to be readily available on all devices during the proceedings as well as in the cardinals' hotel rooms.

3. An elderly cardinal will read the qualities that the future pope should have.

Cardinals over the age of 80 can't vote for the new pontiff. However, one is chosen to read a list of qualities that a candidate should possess. The qualities include: a reverence for the rituals of the Catholic Church, a love of Christ, an appreciation of funny hats, and loyalty to the grand traditions of the Church: settling out of court, misogyny, and, of course, bingo. 

4. When cardinals vote they need to say the traditional proclamation.

Votes are taken one at a time. Each cardinal walks to the altar and deposits his choice and says these words: See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. The traditional fourth sentence Do no evil was done away with a long long time ago.

5. Have outsiders say pretentious things about the process. 

While all the magic happens inside the Sistine Chapel, there are always professional Catholics who need to offer their insights.
"A religion relies on its customs and practices," said Monsignor Kevin Irwin, former dean of theology at Catholic University of America and professor of liturgy. "This is not like putting up posters and getting a poll of who is winning. This is an act of God."
Note the contempt for the democratic process.

6. If voting takes too long, extreme measures will be used.

A two-thirds majority is needed to elect the new leader of the billion or so Catholics. This can take many votes over many days. If there are cardinals who are simply obstinate and refuse to go with the majority, then there are less than pleasant options that the church hierarchy can use to achieve the results needed. These options have never been recorded when used on cardinals, but this documentary footage illustrates the lengths the Church will go to to get what it wants.

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