Catholic World News News Feature
NEW RULES FOR THE NEXT CONCLAVE February 16, 1996
VATICAN (CWN) -- When the next pope is elected, the cardinal-electors will not be staying in the Sistine Chapel. That break from tradition is just one change ordered by Pope John Paul in a "motu proprio" that sets out new policies for papal elections.
Shortly after Easter, construction work will begin on a new dormitory-style residence to be used by the cardinals who gather for the next conclave. The "St. Martha House" residents, with 120 apartments, will be modest, but they will be considerably more comfortable than the cramped lodgings made available for the most recent conclaves.
The Pope's new policies build on the Apostolic Constitution "Romano Pontifici Eligendo," promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1975 to govern the administration of the conclave. Among other changes, the current Pope gives a larger role to cardinals over the age of 80; although they will not be given a vote in the papal elections, they will be allowed to participate actively in all discussions. That change, along with the plans for the new building, show that the Holy Father's primary motivation in making these changes was to produce a more natural, more "human" setting for the cardinals' deliberation.
One long-standing policy of Vatican conclaves will remain intact. The participants will be strictly forbidden, under pain of excommunication, to reveal any information about the proceedings of the conclave. Invariably, the election of a pope is soon followed by a series of rumors about the other cardinals who received votes. The Vatican always refuses to confirm such rumors.