Answering Your Questions About Papal Elections

On Tuesday, I answered questions about the papal resignation.  Today, I want to address the questions you might have about the upcoming papal election.  As always, if you have any questions or comments, fire away in the comments below.

Q. Who Can Be Elected Pope?

Any Baptized Catholic male.  However, since 1378, only Cardinals have been elected pope.

Q. Who Elects the Pope?

Josef Wagner-Höhenberg, A Meeting of the Cardinals (1864)

A. Since 1059, only members of the College of Cardinals have been allowed to vote in papal elections.  These days, there are two additional restrictions:

The right to elect the Roman Pontiff belongs exclusively to the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church, with the exception of those who have reached their eightieth birthday before the day of the Roman Pontiff’s death or the day when the Apostolic See becomes vacant. The maximum number of Cardinal electors must not exceed one hundred and twenty. The right of active election by any other ecclesiastical dignitary or the intervention of any lay power of whatsoever grade or order is absolutely excluded.

So only those Cardinals who are under age 80 at the time that the Holy See becomes vacant (which looks looks like it’ll be February 28, 2013).  Those Cardinals over eighty may still “take part in the preparatory meetings of the Conclave,” but not in the Conclave itself.

This means, by the way, that the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano (age 85), will not be attending the Conclave.  Neither will the vice-dean, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray (age 90).  The presiding Cardinal at the Conclave will instead by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re (age 79), the most senior Cardinal-bishop.

Q. How Many Cardinals Are Eligible to Vote?
Of the 209 living Cardinals, only 117 will be voting in the Conclave. (most of the rest are too old).  These 117 Cardinals are known as “Cardinal-electors.”

Q. What’s a Conclave?
The meeting of the Cardinal-electors to elect the next pope.  The proceedings are highly confidential, and the Cardinal-electors are sequestered, meaning that they are prohibited from all contact with the outside world (including, of course, reading the newspaper, watching television, or listening to the radio).  During this time, the Cardinal-electors will stay in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.  The Domus Sanctae Marthae is said to be fairly simple, but the conditions for Cardinal-electors used to be much worse:

The Domus Sanctae Marthae (foreground)
Prior to the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis — promulgated on February 22, 1996 that changed the rules governing papal conclaves — participants were forced to sleep in the Apostolic Palace on rented cots, usually borrowed from seminaries in Rome. After participants were sealed under lock and key in the Apostolic Palace, the electors would live in makeshift rooms built throughout the palace, including within hallways and offices. The rooms, assigned to each Cardinal by lot, would often be constructed by nothing more than a sheet hanging on a rope. Sturdier walls would not be available because of the cost and because they would damage the Palace walls. In addition to the rented cots, each room would be equipped with a Crucifix and kneeler, a desk and one or two chairs. The Cardinals would have to share common bathrooms, often with ten Cardinals assigned to each. The situation would especially be difficult as a significant portion of Cardinals tend to be elderly.  
Pope John Paul II, after himself participating in two Conclaves, decided to make the process more comfortable and less strenuous on the elderly Cardinals and commissioned the construction of Domus Sanctæ Marthæ.
The most extreme case that I know of came in the 13th century.  At the time of Pope Clement IV, the Cardinals were divided.  There were an equal number of French and Italian Cardinals, at a time when France was invading Italy at the time.  The Cardinals deliberated nearly three years, from November 1268 to September 1, 1271, before settling on a papal legate, Tebaldo Visconti (who was not a Cardinal).  
To “encourage” the deadlocked Cardinals to decide on a candidate, they local magistrates locked the Cardinal-electors into the Papal Palace of Viterbo (Palazzo dei Papi di Viterbo).  They then removed the roof to the building, and reduced the Cardinal-electors’ to a diet of bread and water (even after this, it still took more than a year to make a decision).

Q. Where does these Rules Come From?

Pope Gregory X

After Visconti (see above) became Pope Gregory X, he promptly set out to reform the process of papal elections, creating the modern Conclave.  That said, each pope can establish or modify the rules governing papal conclaves. John Paul II established the current system in 1996, in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis. There has been only one modification since then, related to the majority needed for voting (see the next question for details).

Q. How Large of a Majority is Required?
Two-thirds, rounding up if the number of Cardinal-electors isn’t divisible by three. In this case, there are 117 Cardinal-electors, meaning that the next pope will have been chosen by at least 79 of the Cardinal-electors.

[In 1996, John Paul II modified this general rule slightly: after 30 or 31 ballots, the Cardinal-electors could (by simple majority) change the majority required for the election, provided that it remained at least a simple majority.  In 2007, Benedict XVI changed the rule back, the only change to the Conclave process since 1996.]

Q. When Will the Conclave Begin?

February 28, 2013 is the day that Pope Benedict is scheduled to resign.  The Cardinals will then wait fifteen days (until March 15) to begin the Conclave: that date can be pushed back until as late as March 20, for serious reasons.  
Generally, this period of time is spent handling things like a papal funeral: and it’s tactful to give time to send off the deceased pope before replacing him. But in this case, since Benedict XVI isn’t dead, there is talk of changing the timetable.  Barring a change to the rules, however, March 15 is the earliest day that the Conclave can begin.
Q. What Happens Between Now and Then?
Either way, it isn’t as if the Cardinals will be spending early March simply twiddling their thumbs.  A number of the Cardinal-electors have important day jobs. For example, Cardinal Dolan is (amongst other things) Archbishop of New York and president of the USCCB. That creates a duty “to make necessary arrangements, before the beginning of the election, for the handling of all non-deferrable official or personal business.” So it’s unlikely that they’ll be spending early March simply twiddling their thumbs.
Additionally, during early March, the entire College of Cardinals (including those over eighty) will assemble for what’s called a General Congregation.  Typically, these General Congregations decide on the logistics of the deceased pope’s funeral. Since Benedict isn’t dead, they’ll just do the other parts:
Pope Benedict’s
Fisherman’s Ring
  • Ensuring the destruction of Benedict’s “Fisherman’s Ring” (his official papal ring), and the lead seal that he uses for Apostolic Letters;
  • Handling various administrative issues during the sede vacante (vacant See), like approving the expenses of running Vatican City;
  • Preparing for the Conclave (assigning rooms, setting the schedule for voting, etc.);
  • Selecting “two ecclesiastics known for their sound doctrine, wisdom and moral authority the task of presenting to the Cardinals two well-prepared meditations on the problems facing the Church at the time and on the need for careful discernment in choosing the new Pope.
This last task lets the entire College of Cardinals get a sense (or express a sense) of the most pressing problems facing the Church. Hopefully, this will help the Cardinal-electors in the prayerful deliberation to come.
There are also Particular Congregations created to handle specific jobs.  The logistics of organizing the papal election, and ensuring its secrecy, can be a bit daunting, like “sweeping” the Vatican Apostolic Palace, to ensure that no one has bugged it with audio or visual devices in order to record the secret proceedings.
Q. What Happens During the Conclave Itself?
Michelangelo, The Last Judgment (1541)
Between March 15-20, the Conclave itself will begin. The Cardinals stay in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, and deliberate and vote in the Sistine Chapel, and provisions are made to ensure that no one speaks to them en route.  This is also the reason for Michelangelo’s Last Judgment behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel: to remind the voting Cardinals of the eternal consequences of their actions.
On the first day, each Cardinal swears an oath of secrecy.  Once they have finished, the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations gives the order “Extra omnes,” which means that everyone else has to leave.  The Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations stays behind with the Cardinal-electors, and a priest (previously chosen by the General Congregation), who preaches to the Cardinal-electors the second meditation, “concerning the grave duty incumbent on them and thus on the need to act with right intention for the good of the Universal Church.
They then proceed to voting.  Depending on the schedule set by the General Congregation, voting begins on either the first or the second day.  If it is on the first day, they vote only once (in the afternoon).  After the first day, voting occurs four times a day: twice during the morning session, and twice during the evening session.  If the Cardinals have not decided on anyone after three days, they take a break (of up to one day) to pray and informally deliberate.  They then vote up to seven more times.  If they still haven’t elected a pope, they take another break, “for prayer, discussion and an exhortation given by the senior Cardinal in the Order of Priests.”  Then, it’s back to voting again.
Q.  How does the Voting work?
Previously, there were three permissible forms of voting:
  • Election by compromise: the Cardinal-electors, if they wanted, could unanimously designate select a group of nine-to-fifteen Cardinals, who would then make the choice for the whole Conclave.  This method of voting, which was how the deadlocked Cardinals finally selected Pope Gregory X, was last used in 1316, and is no longer permitted.
  • Election by acclamation: the Cardinal-electors shouted out the name of their preferred candidate.  This was last used in 1621, and is also no longer permitted.
  • Election by scrutiny: the Cardinal-electors vote by secret ballot.  This is the only permitted method presently, and has been the method used for centuries. These votes are then counted by three randomly-selected Cardinals (called “Scrutatorum,” or “Scrutineers”), while three others gather the ballots of any sick members (“Infirmarii”), and three others ensure that the Scrutineers are doing their jobs properly (Recognitorum,” or “Revisers”). 
If I am not mistaken, new Scrutineers, Infirmarii, and Revisers are selected for each session, meaning that the same group of Cardinals doesn’t oversee more than two votes.
In the current method, each Cardinal-elector writes the name of the man he believes should be the next pope on his ballot, disguising his handwriting.  He then folds the ballot.  If he is able-bodied, he then proceeds to the altar, and swears, “I call as my witness Christ the Lord who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected” before depositing the ballot in the box.  If a Cardinal is in the Sistine chapel, but too weak to process to the altar, one of the Scrutineers will come to him.  After this, the three Infirmarii take ballots and an empty ballot box to the Domus Sanctae Marthae for any bed-ridden Cardinal-electors.
Newly-elected Pope Pius XI giving the Apostolic Blessing
Urbi et Orbi from the balcony of the Vatican Basilica.
Once all of the ballots are collected, the ballot box is shaken, and ballots are counted.  If no one has two-thirds, the ballots are burnt along with damp straw.  The black smoke signals to the people awaiting outside that we don’t yet have a pope.  If someone does garner a two-thirds vote, they then ask him to become pope:

The Cardinal Dean, or the Cardinal who is first in order and seniority, in the name of the whole College of electors, then asks the consent of the one elected in the following words: Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff? And, as soon as he has received the consent, he asks him: By what name do you wish to be called? Then the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, acting as notary and having as witnesses two Masters of Ceremonies, who are to be summoned at that moment, draws up a document certifying acceptance by the new Pope and the name taken by him.

The pope-elect is free to decline, but generally, Cardinals unwilling to become pope announce this if there’s any risk of their being elected.  If the man accepts, we have our next pope! At this point, in the pope-elect isn’t yet a Bishop, he’s immediately ordained.  If he is already a bishop, his acceptance becomes the pope instantaneously upon his consent. The Cardinals then “approach the newly-elected Pope in the prescribed manner, in order to make an act of homage and obedience,” and the Conclave ends “immediately after the new Supreme Pontiff assents to his election, unless he should determine otherwise.
The Cardinals then make an act of Thanksgiving to God, and the Cardinal Proto-Deacon, Jean-Louis Tauran, announces to the public, assembled in St. Peter’s Square, “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a Pope!”). The new pope then comes out and imparts the Apostolic Blessing Urbi et Orbi from the balcony of the Vatican Basilica.

26 Comments

    1. Mack,

      The Scriptures use a variety of mechanisms for selecting or replacing leaders. For example, in Acts 1, the Apostles have to replace an Apostle: the Psalms had prophesied that Judas would be replaced, but not how. So they utilized a procedure that worked: it was prayerful and deliberate. They don’t appear to have used that exact procedure after Acts 1.

      So the Church has used a variety of means for the selection and replacement of her leaders, including the pope. I don’t think any of what I outlined above is “crass” or “pompous.” On the contrast, I think a careful reading will you show you that every step I listed is practical, particularly in an age where the world wants to exert an unholy influence in the election of a pope.

      What means does your “church” use in selecting and replacing its leaders?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    2. Joe,

      You are referring to Psalm 109:8 KJV and Acts 1:25 KJV – but that is replacing the only apostle with the misfortune of losing his office – John 17:12 KJV. The remainder, of course, retain their offices and have no successors – Matthew 19:28 KJV & Luke 22:30 KJV. Thus when James was killed no successor was chosen (Acts 12:2 KJV). Since an apostle must be chosen directly by God (Gal. 1:1 KJV; Luke 6:13 KJV; 1 Cor. 4:9 KJV), Peter had to cast lots and let the Lord select Mathias (Prov. 16:33 KJV).

      You described a church that locks its stubborn electors in a room and feeds them bread and water until they agreed on a new leader (cf. 2 Chron. 18:26 KJV). Now if you folks admitted that he was just the local church leader in Rome, we’d have a good laugh, but unfortunately your religion has killed millions attempting to make this guy the acknowledged head of all Christianity. The audacious claim to universal authority over all the churches puts the onus on Catholics to scripturally justify their selection process – or have those claims rejected.

      There is only one singular head of the Christian church who has universal authority – namely the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18 KJV; Eph. 5:23 KJV; Eph. 1:20-22 KJV; 1 Cor. 11:3 KJV; Matt. 23:8-10 KJV; 3 John 1:9 KJV). His only “vicar” is the Holy Ghost: John 14:16-26 KJV; John 15:26 KJV; John 16:7-14 KJV.

      The Catholic claim that they have Peter’s seat is especially problematic since Paul enjoined allegiance to Peter: 1 Cor. 1:12 KJV; 1 Cor. 3:21 KJV; Gal. 2:5-14 KJV; 1 Cor. 4:16 KJV; 1 Cor. 11:1 KJV; 2 Cor. 11:5 KJV.

      And of course, Christianity is not head-quarted in Rome (Acts 11:26 KJV; 1 Thess. 2:14 KJV; Rom. 16:4 KJV; Rom. 16:16 KJV; 2 Cor. 12:13 KJV; Rom. 15:27 KJV)(See also, Rom. 11:13 KJV; Rom. 1:8-15 KJV; Rom. 15:18-20 KJV). And Peter himself forbid elders from acting as lords over God’s flock (1 Peter 5:3 KJV).

      Human consensus typically results in ungodly leaders: Judges 21:25 KJV; Numbers chapter 16 (cf. Jude 1:11 KJV); God typically appoints his own leadership: Deut. 32:12 KJV; Deut. 21:5 KJV.

      The New Testament method is ordination of local married pastors who were first deacons – see 1 Tim. 3:12 KJV; 1 Tim. 3:5 KJV; 1 Tim. 3:11 KJV; 1 Cor. 9:5 KJV.

      And so on and so forth. But I’m the one who asked YOU for scriptural citations. I’m disappointed but not surprised.

      – Mack.

    3. You started this off by criticizing the process by which we choose the pope, because the process doesn’t come from Scripture. When I pressed you on it, it became clear that you don’t actually have a process from Scripture.

      You say that the “New Testament method is ordination of local married pastors who were first deacons.” But none of your support says anything about deacons needing to be “local.” Nor do you provide anything about how to select or replace deacons. Nor do you provide anything about how to select and replace “pastors.” You have a few traits to look for in ideal candidates, but you apparently can’t answer questions about the process itself, like:

      – How many men should be chosen as deacons?
      – What does the process of choosing look like?
      – Who gets to choose, etc.?
      – How many pastors are there to be per church? And how do we define what area constitutes a “church”? Who draws the boundaries?

      If you’re going to insist that the entire process must come from Scripture, show me where the entire process comes from Scripture. For that matter, show me where it says in Scripture that the entire process must come from Scripture, because this seems to be just one of your Evangelical traditions of men.

      2) As for the claim that all pastors must be married, this would mean that St. Paul was unfit to be a pastor. In 1 Cor 7:8, he describes himself as unmarried, and says in 1 Cor. 7:32-35 that it’s the ideal state for full time service to the Lord. Is your claim that pastors may not be in this ideal state?

      Remember also that “pastor” means “shepherd.” Under your system, Jesus, the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), isn’t allowed to be a shepherd. In your blind attacks against the Church, you’re yet again pitting yourself against Jesus Christ.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    4. Mack –

      I don’t normally comment here, mostly because is just so eloquent and many of his followers are extremely well formed and better informed than me. However, your comments above prompted me to comment in a way I couldn’t resist. I want to ask you a question: What is your point? Do you think that you’ll make us change our minds about or faith? Are you trying to convince us that we’re in the wrong and do you really believe that your aggressive tone is what we need to make us mend our ways?

      I just don’t understand what you want. If you’re frustrated with us Catholics and you come here just to vent, then I guess it’s your prerrogative, as long as you’re not blocked by the administrator. If you truly feel that we’re in the wrong and you want to help us, while I disagree with you, I can see how that could be done out of concern for us. If it were done in charity, as many non-Catholics have done in this forum before and continue to do, then I would sincerely appreciate it. I don’t see either intellectual curiosity or concern for us in your comments, I only read anger and maybe even hatred.

      I myself struggle ordinarily with my temper. Many times I want to say something out of charity and I end up offending people. Maybe you’re going through the same, I don’t know. The only thing I can say is that I will pray for you, asking Our Lord to help you be charitable, joyful and hopeful.

      Viva Cristo Rey!

      Carlos

    5. Mack dear, as you seem to be one of our separated brethren, may I say if you are happy with your current church or even if you are an atheist, with no religious inclination, please in the name of Christian charity lay off with your rant of how *bad* the Catholic church is, was and always will be. We have heard it all before. Anyone who really wishes to know the truth can find it. You obviously are not yet at that point and seem to get your jollies going to Catholic websites and villifying all that is Catholic. Knock it off! I for one am sick of stumbling over
      your kind all over the Catholic internet. I will pray for you as required but will always consider you tiresome,dull and underwhelming no matter the number of scriptural quotes you spew in your own favor and against the Church of Jesus Christ. May God humble you and continue to protect His Church from the infidel and the blasphemous.

    6. Dear Joe,

      I want to thank you for allowing Mack to post here and for answering his challenges. He raises questions that occur to some of us (though the way he does so is often unfortunate). I imagine I’m not alone in admiring your answers for their charity and wisdom.

      Best,

      David

    7. mackquigleyFebruary 17, 2013 at 3:44 AM
      QUESTION: Where are any of these crass, pompous, and secretive procedures authorized by the Holy Scriptures? (Citations please)

      The only thing crass here is this question you have posted. Besides being crass, it is a loaded question. Loaded with your prejudice against the Catholic Church.

      The proceedings of the Catholic Church in selecting a Pope are not in Scripture. Jesus Christ appointed the first Pope, St. Peter. He was still Pope after the last Scripture was written.

      The Church, by virtue of the authority given by God, has established her own method of selecting the Pope through the centuries. There is only one thing that has not varied. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    8. mackquigley

      You are referring to Psalm 109:8 KJV and Acts 1:25 KJV –

      No. Acts 1:20. There is a big difference between the two as I will show you.

      but that is replacing the only apostle with the misfortune of losing his office – John 17:12 KJV. The remainder, of course, retain their offices and have no successors – Matthew 19:28 KJV & Luke 22:30 KJV.

      You’re reading a great deal into Scripture which isn’t there. There is no mention of an absence of successors in those verses you produce. Whereas, St. Paul is absolutely clear that there will be successors:

      2 Timothy 2:2
      King James Version (KJV)
      2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

      Going back to Acts 1, it is clear that the Apostles are Bishops. That is why St. Peter says:
      Acts 1:20
      For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

      St. Peter is clear that the office of Apostle is the office of a Bishop. Therefore, there will be successors for all the Apostles. When their office becomes desolate, another will take their office.

      So, therefore, it is taught in Scripture:
      1 Timothy 3:1
      This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

      Thus when James was killed no successor was chosen (Acts 12:2 KJV).

      1st. James the just is the first Bishop of Jerusalem. He is better known in Scripture as James the brother of Joses, Jude, and Simon. Also as James the less. (Mark 15:40).

      But he is not the one killed by the sword.

      2nd. The James killed by the sword is the brother of John. One of the sons of Zebedee.
      3rd. There is no successor mentioned in Scripture. But that does not mean there was no successor. By the time he died, the Apostles had appointed many other Bishops.

      Since an apostle must be chosen directly by God (Gal. 1:1 KJV; Luke 6:13 KJV; 1 Cor. 4:9 KJV), Peter had to cast lots and let the Lord select Mathias (Prov. 16:33 KJV).

      1. Casting lots is not a direct choosing by God. Lots are intermediary which must be interpreted by the one casting the lots. Therefore, it is an indirect medium for election.

      The Twelve Apostles were chosen directly by God. St. Paul was chosen directly by God. Moses was chosen directly by God. But anyone chosen by lot, was chosen by a sign from God interpreted by the Church. That is not direct.

      2. There is no requirement in Scripture that Apostles must be chosen directly by God. NONE. If you claim there is one, provide the Scripture and verse.

    9. Mack said:

      You described a church that locks its stubborn electors in a room and feeds them bread and water until they agreed on a new leader (cf. 2 Chron. 18:26 KJV). Now if you folks admitted that he was just the local church leader in Rome, we’d have a good laugh, but unfortunately your religion has killed millions attempting to make this guy the acknowledged head of all Christianity.

      That’s a lie. Simple as that. The Catholic Church has killed no one since the death of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.

      The audacious claim to universal authority over all the churches puts the onus on Catholics to scripturally justify their selection process – or have those claims rejected.

      You are mistaken. We do not believe in the false doctrine of Scripture alone. Jesus Christ established a Church and gave that Church the authority to bind and loose on earth and in heaven. It is by the authority of that Church that the selection process for the successors of Peter are organized with the full authority of God behind it.

      There is only one singular head of the Christian church who has universal authority – namely the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18 KJV; Eph. 5:23 KJV; Eph. 1:20-22 KJV; 1 Cor. 11:3 KJV; Matt. 23:8-10 KJV; 3 John 1:9 KJV).

      Jesus Christ appointed St. Peter His vicar:
      John 21:15-17
      King James Version (KJV)
      15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

      16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

      17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

      Your denial is simply your opinion but it carries no weight.

      His only “vicar” is the Holy Ghost: John 14:16-26 KJV; John 15:26 KJV; John 16:7-14 KJV.

      A vicar is subordinate to the principle he replaces. The Holy Ghost is not a vicar of Jesus Christ. He is God, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, co-equal with Christ.

      St. Peter is the Vicar of Christ and that office continues to this day.

    10. Mack said:

      The Catholic claim that they have Peter’s seat is especially problematic since Paul enjoined allegiance to Peter: 1 Cor. 1:12 KJV; 1 Cor. 3:21 KJV; Gal. 2:5-14 KJV; 1 Cor. 4:16 KJV; 1 Cor. 11:1 KJV; 2 Cor. 11:5 KJV.

      Hm? Yes, he did. St. Paul enjoined allegiance to St. Peter.

      enjoined
      Verb
      Instruct or urge (someone) to do something.
      Prescribe (an action or attitude) to be performed or adopted: “the charitable deeds enjoined on him by religion”.

      al·le·giance
      /əˈlējəns/
      Noun
      Loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior or of an individual to a group or cause.
      Synonyms
      loyalty – fidelity – faithfulness – adherence – devotion

      I think you just said the opposite of what you intended.

      It is true that St. Paul had some problems accepting the Church leadership. But he finally came to realize his error:
      1 Corinthians 15:9
      For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

      This is why he went to Galatia to speak to St. Peter and make sure that he was not running in vain:
      Galatians 2:2
      And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

    11. Mack said:

      And of course, Christianity is not head-quarted in Rome (Acts 11:26 KJV; 1 Thess. 2:14 KJV; Rom. 16:4 KJV; Rom. 16:16 KJV; 2 Cor. 12:13 KJV; Rom. 15:27 KJV)(See also, Rom. 11:13 KJV; Rom. 1:8-15 KJV; Rom. 15:18-20 KJV). And Peter himself forbid elders from acting as lords over God’s flock (1 Peter 5:3 KJV).

      Christianity became head quartered in Rome after the Scriptures were written. It certainly was not headquartered in Jerusalem, as Jerusalem was destroyed in accordance with prophecy, in 77ad.

      Jesus Christ forbid Christians from lording it over anyone. That is why the Pope is the Servant of the Servants of God.
      Mark 10:44
      And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

      Human consensus typically results in ungodly leaders: Judges 21:25 KJV; Numbers chapter 16 (cf. Jude 1:11 KJV); God typically appoints his own leadership: Deut. 32:12 KJV; Deut. 21:5 KJV.

      But Church leaders are the presence of Christ in the world:
      2 Corinthians 5:20
      Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

      The New Testament method is ordination of local married pastors who were first deacons – see 1 Tim. 3:12 KJV; 1 Tim. 3:5 KJV; 1 Tim. 3:11 KJV; 1 Cor. 9:5 KJV.

      That method still exists in the Church today. But we also use a more perfect method. The imitation of Christ.

      And so on and so forth. But I’m the one who asked YOU for scriptural citations. I’m disappointed but not surprised.

      The citations you produced said nothing which you claimed they said. If you want, we can dissect them here together. You claimed they said something but when searched, they said nothing.

      I am not surprised either. Protestants like yourself, know nothing about Scripture:
      1 Corinthians 2:14
      But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

      De Maria

    12. De Maria:

      Look up “enjoin” in the dictionary again – it also means to forbid.

      That’s not the only thing you got wrong, but I won’t bother to point them out since my explanations from the scriptures would be no match for your deluded belief in your own unique spiritual discernment.

      – Mack

    13. mackquigleyFebruary 18, 2013 at 3:59 AM
      De Maria:

      Look up “enjoin” in the dictionary again – it also means to forbid.

      That’s not the only thing you got wrong, but I won’t bother to point them out since my explanations from the scriptures would be no match for your deluded belief in your own unique spiritual discernment.

      – Mack

      If you had an explanation you thought was better than mine, you would use it. But you don’t. Therefore, my explanation stands.

  1. This is a paranthetical not relevant to anything, but just an opinion to get off my chest: I have grown wary of any book named after a gay Anglican monarch.

    Carry on good sirs. Carry on.

  2. Excellent, as usual.
    I read somewhere that to make absolutely sure that the “no election” smoke is black, chemicals are now added to the mix. Helps to avoid ambiguous signals and the resultant conspiracy theories.

    de Maria- masterful, yet charitable. Well done!

  3. Out of curiosity, is it possible to have truly “lay cardinals”? The Wikipedia page seems to indicate that this usually meant that the cardinal was a member of a minor order, however there seems to have been one or two brief exceptions. I was wondering: if being a cardinal is truly separate from the priesthood, could the Church more regularly extend voting power, at some point in the future, to those members of the laity with an active role in the Church-monks, and possibly nuns.

    Gratias Ago, much enjoy reading your posts!

  4. Check out the comment here:

    “A fellow Catholic on an email list said: “If some African witch doctor becomes Pope, I’m leaving the Church.””

    Mark Shea flipped out over it at his blog.

    See: http://prowesternchristianity.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-pro-western-christian-reading-list.html

    Notice that the twitter feed for this “Pro-Western Christianity” (https://twitter.com/West_and_Christ) has nearly 1,000 followers and is only a few months old.

    “Pro-Western Christianity” is new to me.

    ..

    1. Why would you see that as something desirable?

      I foresee tremendous practical problems if this was ever attempted. How would you coordinate the votes of a billion Catholics from around the globe? Also, what would determine voting eligibility? Piers Morgan identifies himself as Catholic – would he get to vote?

    2. Caroline,

      I think that Restless Pilgrim’s response is a good one.

      1) The logistics are impossible: Consider the logistics of getting 117 Cardinal-electors to vote. There are about ten million baptized Catholics for every Cardinal-electors (117 Cardinal-electors, 1,160,000,000 baptized Catholics). And these billion Catholics are spread out in every country on Earth, including countries that have never had a fair and free civil election. How would you propose we arrange for all of them to vote? And how long would the papacy sit empty in the meantime? And how much do you imagine a global-voting plan like this would cost, anyway?

      2) The voting would be random: One advantage to the current system is that the 117 Cardinal-electors have a better sense of the other Cardinals. They’ve worked with them, seen what they’re like in person, etc. During the Conclave, they pray together. In contrast, on what basis would an ordinary Catholic layman from Switzerland or Swaziland determine who is most qualified to become pope?

      3) It would encourage the grossest sort of politicization of the papacy: look at American politics. Look at the campaigning, the pandering, the corruption, the negative ads, etc. Papal elections are imperfect in their own ways, but they’re free from this sort of base spectacle. In the system you’re suggesting, we would risk getting everything wrong with civil politics, but on a much larger level. (Note: one of the reasons that political parties exist is precisely what I outlined in #2 – because voters don’t know the individuals themselves, so they need a label. These two reasons are related).

      4) This is based on a bad ecclesiology: Christ founds what He calls a “Kingdom” throughout the New Testament. He’s not unaware of democracy: the Romans had tried it, and it failed. In Matthew 16, he lays out the three possible styles of Church governance (democratic, aristocratic, monarchical), and it’s the third that He chooses for His Church. This ecclesial kingship also reflects God’s Divine Kingship.

      5) There’s a difference in the Magsterium and the sensus fidelium: the fallible ordinary Magsterium consists of all bishops in union with the pope. The sensus fidelium consists of those lay faithful who are orthodox. Someone calling themselves Catholic who disagrees with the Church’s teaching doesn’t qualify. Additionally, as the CDF has noted:

      “The believer can still have erroneous opinions since all his thoughts do not spring from faith. Not all the ideas which circulate among the People of God are compatible with the faith. This is all the more so given that people can be swayed by a public opinion influenced by modern communications media. Not without reason did the Second Vatican Council emphasize the indissoluble bond between the sensus fidei and the guidance of God’s People by the magisterium of the Pastors. These two realities cannot be separated.”

      I.X.,

      Joe

    3. As a member of the laity, I have a vital role to play in the election of a new Pope: I pray for the Cardinal Electors to be guided by the Holy Ghost in their deliberations.

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