Papal conclave, 2005

Papal conclave
April 2005

Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
Dates and location
18–19 April 2005
Sistine Chapel, Apostolic Palace,
Vatican City
Key officials
Dean Joseph Ratzinger
Sub-Dean Angelo Sodano
Camerlengo Eduardo Martínez Somalo
Protopriest Stephen Kim Sou-hwan
Protodeacon Jorge Medina Estévez
Secretary Francesco Monterisi
Ballots 4
Elected Pope
Joseph Ratzinger
(Name taken: Benedict XVI)

The Papal conclave of 2005 was convened as a result of the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005. After his death, the cardinals who were in Rome met and set a date for the beginning of the conclave to elect his successor. The conclave began on 18 April 2005 and ended the following day after four ballots. Eligible members of the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, those who were younger than 80 years of age at the time of the death of Pope John Paul II, met and elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Dean of the College of Cardinals, as the new pope. After accepting his election, he took the pontifical name of Benedict XVI.

Papal election process for 2005

Main article: Papal election

Presiding over the conclave was the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Ratzinger from Germany. Given that Ratzinger himself was elected Pope, the duty of asking if he would accept the election and what name he would adopt (duties normally performed by the Dean) fell, in accordance with the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici gregis, to the vice-dean Angelo Sodano.

It fell to the Cardinal Protodeacon, Jorge Medina, to make the solemn announcement of the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.

This was the first Papal election governed under provisions made by John Paul II in his Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici gregis, promulgated on 22 February 1996. According to tradition and declaration of the Camerlengo, Eduardo Martínez Somalo, Benedict XVI is the 265th Bishop of Rome, head of both the Latin Catholic Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches.

In a break with recent tradition, Universi Dominici gregis provided that the cardinals were not to be locked under key in the Sistine Chapel precincts throughout the conclave. Instead they were to be lodged within the confines of the Vatican City State at the Domus Sanctae Marthae when not in session, where they did not have access to newspapers, television, radio, the Internet, or telephones for the duration of the election process.

Proceedings on 18 April began with a morning Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff (Latin Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice). In the afternoon the Cardinal electors assembled in the Hall of Blessings (above the portico of the main entrance of St. Peter's Basilica) and from there went in solemn procession to the Sistine Chapel, where, after the singing of the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, each cardinal took the prescribed oath. After these and other formalities for the start of the Conclave had been observed, Archbishop Piero Marini, Papal Master of Ceremonies, gave the traditional command extra omnes (everybody out). The doors were then locked, and the actual Conclave began. In accordance with the law, one round of balloting was held on that evening. Thereafter balloting was to continue until a new Pope was elected, on a schedule of two ballots each morning and two each afternoon. The ballot slips were to be burned at noon and 7 pm Rome time (10:00 and 17:00 UTC) each day. The traditional procedure is that smoke from this, in times past, reinforced by adding handfuls of dry or damp straw, emerged from a temporary chimney on the chapel roof as for a conclusive vote (white smoke) or an as yet undecided one (black smoke). The straw had since been replaced by chemically produced smoke.

On 24 April, five 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 investiture with the pallium and Papal Inauguration Mass. Many dignitaries of various countries, some of whom had attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II, also attended this function.

The cardinal electors

For a full list, see cardinal electors in Papal conclave, 2005.
Papal Conclave of 2005
Electors 117 total
Absent 2
*Jaime Sin, (Manila),
*Adolfo Suárez Rivera, (Monterrey)
Present 115
Africa 11
Asia 10
Europe 58
Oceania 2
North America 22
South America 12
DECEASED POPE John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła)

Although there were 183 cardinals in all, cardinals age 80 years or more 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 sometimes 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. The late pope appointed another cardinal secretly (in pectore) in 2003, but his identity was never made public; since John Paul did not reveal the name of this cardinal before he died, the in pectore cardinalate expired on 2 April.

All the electors were appointed by Pope John Paul II, except Jaime Sin, William Wakefield Baum and Joseph Ratzinger. The result of this (with Cardinal Sin unable to attend) was that Cardinals Baum and Ratzinger were the only cardinals in the conclave with practical experience in the papal election process, having participated in the conclaves electing John Paul I and John Paul II. This state of affairs is not unparalleled in modern conclaves: the 1903 conclave had only one elector with previous experience in electing a pope, and the 1823 conclave only two. This was due to the long pontificates which immediately preceded such conclaves. (Despite the long pontificate of Pius IX, the 1878 conclave had 3 cardinals who had also participated in the 1846 conclave.)

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 were the most numerous at 20, followed by the contingent from the United States of America with 11. It was officially announced on 9 April that two of the 117 cardinal electors, Jaime Sin of the Philippines and Adolfo Antonio 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. Sin died in June. 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. The supporting votes of two-thirds of the cardinals attending a conclave are needed to elect a new pope in the initial phases of the process: in this case, 77 votes.


Pre-balloting activities

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On Saturday, 9 April, 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.

On April 15, officials and personnel who weren't cardinal-electors but had duties during the conclave formally took the oath of secrecy as prescribed in Universi Dominici gregis, Chapter II Sections 46-48, Chapter III Section 55.,[1][2] The oath bound them to secrecy regarding anything they would observe in the course of their duties throughout the conclave under pain of punishment at the discretion of the incoming pope. The oath was administered in the Hall of Blessings and as prescribed, in the presence of the Camerlengo Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo and two masters of ceremonies.

The cardinal electors listened to two exhortations to the conclave cardinals before passing on to the first ballot on the afternoon of 18 April. The first of these exhortations on the state of the Church was delivered on the morning of Thursday, 14 April, 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 Tomáš Špidlík in the Sistine Chapel after the extra omnes on the afternoon of Monday 18 April, and the closing off of the conclave area to outsiders.


Day Ballot Result
1 1 No pope elected
2 2
4 Pope elected

First day

On April 18, the cardinals assembled in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning to concelebrate the mass Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice (For the Election of the Roman Pontiff).[3] As Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the principal concelebrant and gave the homily.[3][4] In the afternoon, the cardinals assembled in the Hall of Blessings for the procession to the Sistine Chapel. Universi Dominici gregis, Chapter III Section 50 stipulated the Pauline Chapel as the place where the cardinal-electors were to assemble at the beginning of the conclave prior to the procession and entry into the Sistine Chapel.[1] However, due to restoration work that had begun in 2002,[5] the Pauline Chapel was unavailable for the conclave so the Hall of Blessings instead was used for this purpose.[6][lower-alpha 1] The cardinals having assembled in the Hall of Blessings then proceeded to the Sistine Chapel while the Litany of Saints was chanted. After taking their places the "Veni Creator Spiritus" ("Come, Creator Spirit") was sung. At the first conclave since their restoration, Michelangelo's The Last Judgement and ceiling appeared in their full glory. The occasion was very solemn. The Cardinal Dean of the Sacred College, Joseph Ratzinger, then read the oath:

We, the cardinal electors present in this election of the Supreme Pontiff promise, vow 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 College of Cardinals, was first to go forward, followed by the Vice Dean, Angelo Sodano; and the other cardinals in order of seniority.

Two cardinals were striking by their different attire in the sea of red and white: Cardinals Ignatius I Daoud of the Syrian Catholic Church and Lubomyr Husar of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.[lower-alpha 2] After Archbishop Piero 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. Cardinal Tomáš Špidlík, a non-elector, then gave the meditation before he, too, left; and after the meditation the first ballot was taken.

Results of the first ballot

It should be noted that any publicized details about the ballots are purely speculative, as only the name of the one elected becomes officially announced. On the first ballot, according to the Italian daily Il Messaggero, Carlo Maria Martini, the archbishop of Milan obtained 40 votes, Ratzinger obtained 38 votes, and Camillo Ruini a substantial number of votes, the rest of the votes being dispersed. Alternatively, an anonymous cardinal's diary suggested the vote totals were these:[7] Cardinal Ratzinger 47 votes; Cardinal Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires (later Pope Francis) 10 votes; Cardinal Martini 9; Cardinal Ruini 6; and 3 others received votes as well. Nonetheless, both totals fell short of the required threshold and black smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel chimney at around 20:00 Rome time. This signaled that the first ballot had been held without electing a pope.

Here is the complete tally from the first ballot, according to the anonymous cardinal's diary (77 votes are required for a papal contender to be elected):[8]

Second day

The morning session of the second day ended with the Sistine Chapel chimney emitting black smoke once again meaning that no new pope had been elected. According to the above-mentioned diary, the vote tally was: Cardinal Ratzinger 65; Cardinal Bergoglio 35, barely enough to force another ballot.

This is the complete tally from the second ballot, according to the anonymous cardinal's diary (77 votes are required for a papal contender to be elected; see above reference):

other contenders - 8 votes (6.95%)

According to the Italian newspapers, Ratzinger had supposedly indeed reached or even exceeded the required 77 votes during the third ballot, but he asked for a vote of confirmation in the afternoon. If he had, it would have been consistent with the actions of John Paul I, who is said to have made the same request. However, according to some interpretations this would not be in conformity with the laws governing the conclave. The diary, however states the votes were: Cardinal Ratzinger, 72; Cardinal Bergoglio, 40; five shy of the required supermajority.

This is the complete tally from the third ballot, according to the anonymous cardinal's diary (77 votes are required for a papal contender to be elected; see above reference):

other contenders - 2 votes (1.74%)

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.

This is the complete tally from the fourth ballot, according to the anonymous cardinal's diary (77 votes are required for a papal contender to be elected; see above reference):

other contenders - 2 votes (1.74%)

At 15:50 UTC, white smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel followed by the pealing of bells ten minutes later. Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) had been elected after four ballots. Indications given suggest that he obtained between 84 and 107 votes for this fourth and last ballot.

Things were not glitch free as the voting slips and notes were lit after that ballot. "All of a sudden, the whole Sistine Chapel was filled with smoke," Adrianus Johannes Simonis was quoted as saying by La Stampa and La Repubblica.

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

The Apostolic Constitution promulgated by John Paul II, which governed the rules of the conclave, had mandated that the bells of St. Peter's were to ring following the election of a new pope. This was intended to avoid the confusion that ensued at the conclusion of the 1978 conclave when the color of the smoke was ambiguous following the successful election of John Paul II on the eighth ballot. However, the bells confirming the election of Benedict XVI began to ring only after a fourteen-minute delay. Archbishop Renato Boccardo, the Vatican City Secretary-General, stated that there was a lack of coordination in the minutes following the election of the new pope. In the confusion, the Vatican official inside the conclave responsible for activating the bells failed to transfer the keys to the ringing mechanism to the appropriate person at St. Peter's Basilica in a timely fashion.

See also


  1. The restoration work was subsequently finished in 2009[5] and the Pauline Chapel was used for the cardinal-electors' assembly at the start of the 2013 conclave.
  2. Both Cardinals Daoud and Husar opted to wear the vestments proper to their churches while the third Eastern Catholic cardinal-elector Varkey Vithayathil of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church opted to wear the Latin church vestments for cardinals. At the 2013 conclave all Eastern Catholic cardinal-electors wore the vestments proper to their churches.



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