Conclave’s rituals, oaths and secrecy explained
VATICAN CITY (AP) — It’s a ritual as rich in tradition and symbolism as the Catholic Church can muster: secret oaths, hypnotic Gregorian chants, scarlet-decked cardinals filing through the Sistine Chapel — all while the public outside in St. Peter’s Square watches for white smoke or black to learn if it has a new pope.
Much of the ritual’s current incarnation is the work of Archbishop Piero Marini.
The Vatican’s master of liturgical celebrations for two decades under Pope John Paul II, Marini organized the funeral rites for the late pontiff and the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. He was by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s side minutes after the election when the new pope uttered the words ‘‘I accept’’ — officially launching his papacy on April 19, 2005.
‘‘I still remember, with some emotion, the silence that there was — the participation of the cardinals,’’ Marini recalled in an interview in his Vatican offices. ‘‘It was an event that had been prepared with great care.’’
Next month’s conclave to elect the 266th leader of the world’s billion Catholics will have all the grand trappings of papal elections past — with the added twist that this time around the current pope is still alive.