Monday 25 February 2013

Conclave to convene sooner than thought, oath of secrecy extended,excommunication for breaches of security

Some exciting news just in from the Vatican Radio English News Service: the Holy Father has amended the rules governing the sede vacante period to facilitate a sooner start to the Conclave than would have traditionally been allowed under the previous rules which required that 15 days elapse before a conclave could begin.

Even more interestingly, particularly in the light of stories of potential leaks and tweets from the conclave (see Mulier Fortis on this here and here) is an amendment which extends the oath of secrecy to those technical personnel who are present to ensure that no recording or electronic "leaking" of the Conclave occurs.

And on the off chance that somebody wouldn't take the above seriously, one last change underlines the gravity of the solemn secrecy of the Conclave: the Holy Father has clarified that the "punishment for any violation of the oath of secrecy is to be excommunication
latae sententiae".

So there - utterly clear, no excuses for breaching the rules.

It sounds as though we may see the conclave convene sooner than expected. Pray! Pray! Pray!

Original text from

2013-02-25 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic letter motu proprio on Monday, in which he introduced a series of modifications to the laws governing the period sede vacante and the election of a new Bishop of Rome. The new Motu proprio replaces certain of the numbered paragraphs and/or sections of the text of the governing document, Universi Dominici gregis (UDG). Below are the principal highlights of the legislation.
By a modification to paragraph n. 37 of UDG

: Pope Benedict XVI allows for the College of Cardinals to begin the Conclave before fifteen days have passed from the beginning of the period sede vacante, provided that all voting Cardinals are present. The modification also provides that the Conclave must begin no more than twenty days after the beginning of the sede vacante, even if all the electors are not present.

By a modification to paragraph n. 48

: The oath of secrecy is extended to the individuals mentioned in Paragraph 55,2, among whom are the two "trustworthy technicians" who have the task of assisting the competent officers of the College in assuring that no audio-visual equipment for recording or transmitting has been installed by anyone in the areas mentioned, and particularly in the Sistine Chapel itself, where the acts of the election are carried out.

By a modification to the text of paragraph 55,3

: The punishment for any violation of the oath of secrecy is to be excommunication
latae sententiae

(the old text provided for “grave penalties according to the judgment of the future Pope”).

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