Papal conclave, 2005

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Coat of Arms during the Vacancy of the Holy See
Dates April 18April 19, 2005
Location Sistine Chapel, Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
Dean Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Germany)
Vice Dean Angelo Cardinal Sodano (Italy)
Camerlengo Eduardo Cardinal Martínez Somalo (Spain)
Senior Deacon Jorge Cardinal Medina Estévez (Chile)
Ballots Pope elected after 4 ballots
Elected Pope Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
(took name Benedict XVI)

The Papal conclave of 2005 began on April 18, 2005 and ended the next day after four ballots. Eligible members of the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church (those who were less than 80 years of age at the time of the death of the late Pope John Paul II) met and elected Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as the next pontiff. Cardinal Ratzinger, after accepting his nomination, took the name Pope Benedict XVI.

Proceedings on April 18 consisted of a morning Mass "for the Election of the Roman Pontiff" (Latin: "Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice"), followed by the assembling of the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican City's Apostolic Palace in the afternoon for one round of balloting. Balloting was to continue until a new Pope was elected, on a schedule of two ballots each morning and two each afternoon. Ballots were to be burned at noon and 7 pm Rome time (10:00 and 17:00 UTC) each day.

The first ballot, on the evening of April 18, produced black smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, meaning no pope had been elected. More black smoke followed the two morning ballots of April 19. White smoke emerged in the afternoon but the initial absence of bells caused some confusion about what this meant. However, the bells of St. Peter's began pealing shortly after 6 pm Rome time, confirming that the cardinals had elected a new pope.


Papal election process for 2005

Breaking with the traditional use of a chalice, the ballots are collected in an urn featuring a sculpted image of the Good Shepherd.
Breaking with the traditional use of a chalice, the ballots are collected in an urn featuring a sculpted image of the Good Shepherd.
Main article: Papal election
For an example of the speculation in the lead up to, and during the 2005 conclave, see Speculation about the papal conclave, 2005

Leading the conclave was the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Following the election of Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, the Senior Deacon of the College of Cardinals, Jorge Cardinal Medina Estévez, announced to the world, in Latin, Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum! Habemus Papam! ("I announce to you a great joy! We have a Pope!").

This was the first Papal election governed under canon law reforms made by John Paul II in his Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, promulgated on February 22, 1996. According to tradition and declaration of Camerlengo Eduardo Cardinal Martínez Somalo, Benedict XVI is the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches (another accounting of papal history that includes the uncrowned and uninstalled Pope Stephen II reckons him the 266th pope).

In a break with tradition, Universi Dominici Gregis provided that the cardinals were not be locked in the Sistine Chapel throughout this conclave; however, while lodged in the Vatican's Domus Sanctæ Marthæ when not in session, they did not have access to television, radio, the Internet, or telephones during the election process.

On April 24, 5 days after Benedict XVI's election, he was ceremonially installed. Since Pope John Paul I, the historical Papal Coronation has been replaced by a simple consecration and Papal Inauguration Mass. Some of the dignitaries that attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II also attended the mass. One of them was German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

The Cardinal Electors

Papal Conclave of 2005
ELECTORS 117 total
Absent 2
(Sin, Suárez Rivera)
Present 115
Africa 11
Asia & Middle East 11
Europe 58
Oceania 2
North America 22
South America 13
DECEASED POPE John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)
NEW POPE Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger)
The General Congregation of the College of Cardinals meets to plan the conclave.
The General Congregation of the College of Cardinals meets to plan the conclave.
For a full list, see Cardinal electors in Papal conclave, 2005.

Although there were 183 cardinals in all, cardinals over the age of 80 at the time the papacy fell vacant were ineligible to vote in the conclave according to rules enacted by Pope Paul VI in 1971 and modified slightly in 1996 by John Paul II. Pope Paul also limited the number of cardinal electors to a maximum of 120, though John Paul often disregarded this limit when elevating cardinals. At the time of John Paul's death, there were 117 cardinals under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in the conclave. All but three of the electors were appointed by Pope John Paul II. The late pope appointed another cardinal secretly (in pectore) in 2003, but his identity was never made public; since John Paul never revealed the name of this cardinal before he died, the in pectore cardinalate expired on April 2.

The cardinal electors came from slightly over fifty nations (up slightly from the 49 represented in 1978) around the world, about 30 of which have only a single representative. The Italian electors are the most numerous at 20, followed by the United States contingent with 11. The Vatican announced on April 9 that two of the 117 cardinal electors, Jaime Sin of the Philippines and Adolfo Suárez Rivera of Mexico, would not be attending the conclave due to poor health, though some reports had said Cardinal Sin had hoped for medical clearance to travel. Even two short of the full number, with 115 cardinals attending, this conclave saw the largest number of cardinals ever to elect a pope; both conclaves in 1978 had 111 electors present.

Groupings of countries by number of electors:

The supporting votes of two-thirds of the cardinals attending a conclave are needed to elect a new pope: in this case, 77 votes.

Course of balloting

Pre-balloting activities

On Saturday, April 9, in Rome, 130 cardinals meeting in the "General Congregation" (including some non-voting cardinals) voted not to talk to the press until after the conclave.

The cardinal electors listened to two exhortations to the conclave cardinals before passing on to the first election on the afternoon of April 18. The first of these exhortations on the state of the Church was delivered on the morning of Thursday, April 14, in one of the daily general congregations. The preacher was Raniero Cantalamessa, a Capuchin friar and scholar in Church history, who has for several years preached the lenten sermons to the pope and his curial staff. The text of Cantalamessa's lecture was apparently leaked to the Italian press, who quoted him as having told the cardinals they "must guard against transforming Pentecost into a Babel, as happens when one looks for personal affirmation … They ought to only search for the glory of God and the realisation of his reign." The second exhortation was delivered by Tomas Cardinal Spidlik in the Sistine Chapel after the extra omnes on the afternoon of Monday, April 18, and the closing off of the conclave area to outsiders.

First day

We, the cardinal electors present in this election of the Supreme Pontiff promise, pledge and swear, as individuals and as a group, to observe faithfully and scrupulously the prescriptions contained in the Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, Universi Dominici Gregis, published on 22 February 1996. We likewise promise, pledge and swear that whichever of us by divine disposition is elected Roman Pontiff will commit himself faithfully to carrying out the munus Petrinum of Pastor of the Universal Church and will not fail to affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and the liberty of the Holy See. In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting; we promise and swear not to break this secret in any way, either during or after the election of the new Pontiff, unless explicit authorization is granted by the same Pontiff; and never to lend support or favor to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention, whereby secular authorities of whatever order and degree or any group of people or individuals might wish to intervene in the election of the Roman Pontiff.
Each cardinal elector affirmed the oath by placing his hands on the book of the Gospels saying aloud:
And I, (name), do so promise, pledge and swear. So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.
Cardinal Ratzinger, as Dean of the Sacred College, was first to go forward. He was followed by the Vice Dean, Angelo Sodano, and all the other cardinals in turn. It was the first conclave for all the cardinals save Cardinals Baum and Ratzinger. Two cardinals were striking by their different attire in the sea of red and white: cardinals Daoud of the Syrian Catholic Church and Husar of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. After Archbishop Marini (the Papal Master of Ceremonies) intoned the words extra omnes (Latin, "everybody out!"), the members of the choir, security guards, and others left the chapel and the doors of the Sistine Chapel were closed, leaving the cardinals in conclave.
  • For this first ballot, according to the Italian daily Il Messagero, Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini obtained 40 votes, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger obtained 38 votes, and Camillo Cardinal Ruini a substantial number of votes, the rest of the votes being dispersed.
  • Black Smoke (fumata nera) emerged from the top of the Sistine Chapel at around 20:00 Rome time. This signaled that the first ballot had been held and that no new pope had been elected. (Actually, in the first few seconds the smoke was light grayish so most people believed that a new pope had been elected, but it soon became darker, and it wasn't accompanied by the sound of bells, so they realized they had been mistaken.)

Second day

The new pope Benedict XVI.
The new pope Benedict XVI.

The morning session of the second day ended with the Sistine Chapel chimney emitting black smoke once again (even this time it was much lighter in the first few seconds; experts say this was due to the fact that the stove was new and too clean), meaning that no new pope had been elected.

According to the Italian newspapers Pope Benedict XVI indeed reached or even obtained more than the required 77 votes during the third ballot, but he asked for a vote of confirmation in the afternoon. If he had that it would be consistent with the actions of John Paul I who is said to have made the same request.

The cardinals left for lunch before returning for the afternoon session of balloting. Tens of thousands of people, waiting in St Peter's Square for the result, were quiet at the result and the reaction was very different from the first day.

At 15:50 UTC, white smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel followed by the pealing of bells ten minutes later. Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) had been elected after four ballots. The Italian press indicates that he obtained between 95 and 107 votes for this fourth and last ballot.

Things weren't glitch free as the votes and notes were lit after that ballot. "All of a sudden, the whole Sistine Chapel was filled with smoke," Cardinal Simonis was quoted as saying by La Stampa and La Repubblica.

"Fortunately, there were no art historians," joked Cardinal Schönborn, in a reference to the priceless paintings and other treasures in the building.

John Paul II had also called for the ringing of the bells but they were silent for some 10 minutes before ringing. To date, no one has explained the glitch, but there is speculation that the Vatican had to disable the normal system for ringing the hours (it was coming up on 1800), delaying the clamouring bells

Vote counts from an unauthorized diary

On September 23, 2005 a cardinal's unauthorized diary was published [1] [2]. According to the diary, the vote counts were as follows (some of the votes for the non-major candidates are not included):

External links

Procedures and news

Punditry and predictions

Papal conclave, 2005

Cardinal electors | Cardinals over age of 80 | Papabili | Speculation
Pope John Paul II | Pope Benedict XVI | Prophecy of the Popes

Papal Conclaves 1800–2005

1800 | 1823 | 1829 | 1830–1831 | 1846 | 1878 | 1903 | 1914 | 1922 | 1939 | 1958 | 1963 | 1978 (August) | 1978 (October) | 2005

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