Released on 2013-02-13 00:00 GMT
Pope changes rules for electing successor
Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:50PM EDT
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict announced on Tuesday he had changed
the rules to elect his successor, in a move meant to ensure that future
pontiffs have broad support before white smoke rises again from the
Benedict’s “motu proprio”, a type of papal decree, partly reverses changes
made by his predecessor John Paul II that had opened the possibility of
electing a Pope with only a slight majority in the event of a deadlock.
From now on, the two-thirds majority needed at the start of voting in the
conclave will be required until the very end — no matter how many rounds
of balloting end with “black smoke” above St. Peter’s Square.
The Vatican’s chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said the changes
“would guarantee the widest possible consensus for the election of the new
The 80-year-old Benedict also appeared to be remedying what some critics
saw as an unfortunate consequence of the changes made by John Paul, who is
on the fast-track to sainthood.
They say that instead of simply avoiding a deadlock, the changes John Paul
made in 1996 had empowered any majority willing to hold out until the
two-thirds requirement expired.
“I believe that the Pope has realized the system introduced by John Paul
II was giving the (slightest) majority in the conclave the absolute power
to impose its candidate,” said Marco Politi, a Vatican analyst who writes
for Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Benedict, in a bid to address the deadlock issue, calls instead in his
decree for a run-off vote between the top two candidates after 33 rounds
No such extremes were needed in 2005, when then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
was elected on just the second day of the conclave.
He had at least a two-thirds majority, but what happened behind closed
doors in the frescoed Sistine Chapel in April 2005 is secret. The 115
cardinals who entered the conclave took a vow of “absolute and perpetual
secrecy” not to reveal details about the election.
But one account published in respected Italian magazine Limes in 2005 said
Ratzinger was elected Pope only after his closest rival in the conclave,
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina, indicated he did not want
In the fourth and final round of voting, Ratzinger was elevated to the
papacy with 84 votes — less than the 99 votes thought to have been cast
for Pope John Paul in 1978, according to the account, which Limes said was
from the diary of an unnamed cardinal.