Conclave to elect new pope set for next week
Publish Date: Mar 09, 2013
Conclave to elect new pope set for next week
Retired Pope Benedict XVI
  • mail
  • img

VATICAN CITY, March - Vatican workers made final preparations in the Sistine Chapel on Saturday after Roman Catholic cardinals voted to begin their conclave to elect a new pope under Michelangelo's famous frescoes next week.

The conclave of 115 "cardinal electors" will begin on Tuesday to choose the 264th pope, following Benedict XVI's abrupt decision to resign last month after a troubled eight-year papacy that was often overshadowed by scandals.

The 85-year-old Benedict admitted he was becoming too weak in body and mind to keep up with a fast-changing modern world and became only the second head of the Roman Catholic Church ever to resign by choice in its 2,000-year history.

The decision on the date of the conclave was taken on Friday at one of a series of closed-door meetings held by cardinals over the past week to discuss the many challenges facing the next pope.

Cardinals seized on the rare chance to air grievances against the Vatican with no new pope to defer to and no old pope to mourn.

Several cardinals have called for greater transparency and a wholesale reform of the Roman Curia, the central governing body of the Church, which has been under a cloud over recent corruption, infighting and intrigue allegations.

"Pope emeritus" Benedict XVI has stayed out of the debate and is living at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo outside Rome for the next couple of months, after which he will move to a former convent inside the Vatican.

-- No spying, no communication --

The giant window of the Sistine Chapel has been blacked out to prevent anyone being able to spy on the conclave and scrambling devices have been installed to prevent any type of communication with the outside world.

The Renaissance jewel takes its name from pope Sixtus IV, who had it built between 1477 and 1480. Situated next to St. Peter's Basilica, it has the same dimensions as the first Holy Temple built in Jerusalem by king Solomon.

One of the most visited sites in the world, with up to 20,000 tourists a day filing through, the Sistine Chapel features one of art history's most famous scenes, depicting God stretching out his arm to touch Adam's hand and give him life.

The chapel is now off limits to visitors and the Floreria, the Vatican department in charge of preparing for papal audiences and ceremonies, has been outfitting it for the conclave with a raised platform and tables.

It is using drawings and photos to make sure this conclave -- the 24th to be held in the chapel -- is the mirror image of the previous ones.

Twelve long tables will be laid out in four rows, two on either side of the chapel, covered with runners in beige with bordeaux satin skirting.

The cardinals -- traditionally known as "Princes of the Church" -- will sit on cherry-wood chairs to fill in their ballot papers in the papal election.

Folded votes will first be placed on a bronze plate, known as a paten, and then slid into an urn shaped like a flying saucer, decorated with two lambs, signifying the flock of God's faithful who will be led by the future pope.

Prayers will be read out from a lectern in the centre of the chapel.

On the left of the entrance to the chapel, two stoves with one common flue have been installed for the burning of the votes once they have been counted.

Ballots will be burnt in one of the stoves, engraved with the names of the last six popes and the dates they were elected. Chemicals burnt in the second stove will ensure the colour of the smoke in the sky cannot be misread.

Black smoke will mean no decision has yet been made, white smoke signals a pope has been chosen. There are two daily rounds of voting and the pope is elected by a two-thirds majority and a simple acceptance of the vote.

At the end of the chapel, tucked away and permanently off-limits to tourists, is a small door which opens onto a small cell, where the white robes for the new pope will be laid ready in three sizes: large, medium and small.

The small, red-painted "Room of Tears" is where the chosen cardinal will retire once nominated to be the next head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

Preparations are also under way at the Casa Santa Marta, the residence inside the Vatican where the electors will eat and sleep between votes.

Cardinals will walk or be driven about 500 metres (yards) up a cobblestone road that passes through the lush greenery of the Vatican gardens.

The windows in the residence are locked and the cardinals' movements are restricted to prevent anyone signalling details about the election.

Even the telephones in the rooms are for internal use only.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Kyeyo investment meeting set for Masaka
Eng.Dr Frank Sebbowa, executive director Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) has said the country is to host a summit for Ugandans living abroad (kyeyo) to show them investment opportunities in Uganda....
20 arrested in Kampala for flouting KCCA laws
THESE were arrested from various places in the city like Kyaggwe Road, Kampala Road, Luwuum Street and Mengo Kisenyifor littering the city, carrying out street vending and illegal parking...
State opposes ex-Mbabazi aide’s bail application
THE state has vehemently opposed a request for bail by former aide to presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi, who is accused of absconding duty...
Butaleja warned against misuse of the early flood warning system
The assistant commissioner for disaster in the directorate of disaster preparedness, Gerald Menhya has called for skills development among the Butaleja district officials on how to operate the flood early warning system....
New population council sets priorities
The newly inaugurated National Population Council (NPC) has identified five issues Uganda should tackle urgently to achieve its development goal of becoming a middle class income by 2040. The ministry of finance, planning and economic development on Tuesday launched the council following the enact...
Nomination for MP candidates for December 2
Nomination for MP candidates will be held on December 2 to 3, 2015, Electoral Commission (EC) announced. MP candidates are required to submit names of 10 registered voters from constituency; sh300,000; photographs and education particulars for nomination....
Is Uganda ready for the pope's visit?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter