The College of Cardinals has agreed to start the papal conclave to replace pro-life Pope Benedict XVI on March 12, after voting today.
“The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013,” Father Federico Lombardi said from Rome this evening.
He indicated the cardinals will celebrate a pro eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning and “in the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave.”
The Catholic News Service has more on the process:
On the first day of their pre-conclave meetings, all of the cardinals were given a gold-embossed, green book of rites and prayers to accompany them as they enter the conclave, vote, elect a new pope and introduce him to the world.
The “Ordo Rituum Conclavis” (Rites of the Conclave) was the same used in 2005. In late February, Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, told Catholic News Service the text would not undergo any significant modifications.
The book was prepared by Msgr. Marini’s predecessor and approved by Blessed John Paul II in 1998.
The 343-page book with prayers in Latin and an Italian translation begins by noting that the election of a pope “is prepared for and takes place with liturgical actions and constant prayer.”
The election of a pope, it said, “is of supreme importance in the life of the people of God in pilgrimage on earth.”
The Mass for the election of the pope is the only rite in the book to be celebrated publicly before the new pope is presented to the world.
In a procession behind the cross, the cardinals walk into the Sistine Chapel singing a litany of saints of the East and West and a series of invocations to Christ with the refrain, “Save us, Lord.”
The cardinals then take an oath to “faithfully and scrupulously observe” the rules for electing a pope; each swears that if he is elected he will “faithfully fulfill the Petrine ministry as pastor of the universal church and will strenuously affirm and defend the spiritual and temporal rights as well as the freedom of the Holy See.”
Each day, the cardinals are to recite morning and evening prayer together and to concelebrate Mass. They are to listen to Scripture and have time for prayer before each ballot is cast and before the ballots are counted.
As each cardinal places his vote in the urn, he promises that his vote was cast for the candidate he believes deserves to be elected.
The newly elected pope will be asked by Cardinal Re, “Do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff?” The book gives no formula for the assent, nor does it recognize the possibility that the person elected will refuse. The second question asked is: “With what name do you wish to be called?”
Pope Benedict has been considered a hero for pro-life advocates due to his consistent record of advancing the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church.
Earlier this year, in his annual address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corp accredited to the Holy See, Pope Benedict expressed concern over ongoing efforts to expand legalized abortion and destroy innocent life.
Pope Benedict also criticized the recent Inter-American Court of Human Rights decision that struck down a Costa Rican law that prohibited in vitro fertilization by redefining when life begins and ruling the embryo does not have the legal status of “person”.
At the same time, I must note with dismay that, in various countries, even those of Christian tradition, efforts are being made to introduce or expand legislation which decriminalizes abortion. Direct abortion, that is to say willed as an end or as a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. In affirming this, the Catholic Church is not lacking in understanding and mercy, also towards the mother involved. Rather, it is a question of being vigilant lest the law unjustly alter the balance between the right to life of the mother and that of the unborn child, a right belonging equally to both. In this area, the recent decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights regarding in vitro fertilization, which arbitrarily redefines the moment of conception and weakens the defence of unborn life, is also a source of concern.
Pope Benedict also noted how “human rights” is being used to liberalize policy that is self-centered and self-seeking.
Sadly, especially in the West, one frequently encounters ambiguities about the meaning of human rights and their corresponding duties. Rights are often confused with exaggerated manifestations of the autonomy of the individual, who becomes self-referential, no longer open to encounter with God and with others, and absorbed only in seeking to satisfy his or her own needs. To be authentic, the defence of rights must instead consider human beings integrally, in their personal and communitarian dimensions.
In his annual message for the World Day of Peace Jan. 1, Pope Benedict said he is concerned about continued attacks on human dignity and human rights, including from abortion, euthanasia and attempts to restrict religious freedom on pro-life issues, like the Obama administration’s HHS mandate.
The Catholic Church leader said some are promoting a “false peace” and “false rights or freedoms,” by employing “the clever use of ambiguous expressions aimed at promoting a supposed right to abortion and euthanasia.”
“Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life,” he said.
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Pope Benedict said governments recognize and uphold “the right to invoke the principle of conscientious objection in the face of laws or government measures that offend against human dignity, such as abortion and euthanasia.”
“Sadly, even in countries of long-standing Christian tradition, instances of religious intolerance are becoming more numerous, especially in relation to Christianity and those who simply wear identifying signs of their religion.
“Those who insufficiently value human life, and in consequence, support among other things the liberalization of abortion perhaps do not realize that in this way they are proposing the pursuit of a false peace,” since peace presupposes protecting the weakest,” he wrote.
“The path to the attainment of the common good and to peace is above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end. True peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions, personal, communitarian and transcendent. Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life,” the Pope wrote.
He continued: “Those who insufficiently value human life and, in consequence, support among other things the liberalization of abortion, perhaps do not realize that in this way they are proposing the pursuit of a false peace. The flight from responsibility, which degrades human persons, and even more so the killing of a defenseless and innocent being, will never be able to produce happiness or peace. Indeed how could one claim to bring about peace, the integral development of peoples or even the protection of the environment without defending the life of those who are weakest, beginning with the unborn. Every offence against life, especially at its beginning, inevitably causes irreparable damage to development, peace and the environment. Neither is it just to introduce surreptitiously into legislation false rights or freedoms which, on the basis of a reductive and relativistic view of human beings and the clever use of ambiguous expressions aimed at promoting a supposed right to abortion and euthanasia, pose a threat to the fundamental right to life.”