Conclave to elect new Pope scheduled for March 15

The conclave to elect the new Pope, who will succeed Benedict XVI, was set for March 15, […]

The conclave to elect the new Pope, who will succeed Benedict XVI, was scheduled for March 15, according to international agencies.

The election of a Pope follows very precise rituals, marked by an atmosphere of silence and secrecy, provided for in detail in the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis', signed by John Paul II in 1996.

The next one begins after February 28, when the resignation of the pontificate announced Monday by Benedict XVI takes effect.

At the beginning of the conclave, the cardinals will take God and the Gospels as their witnesses in an oath of “absolute secret” over all the proceedings that will take place there.

50 cardinal electors (59 as of March 5) were created by John Paul II and participated in the election of Benedict XVI, Pope who created the other 67 cardinals under the age of 80.

 

"Continue to pray for the Pope and for the Church," asks Benedict XVI

 

Benedict XVI asked the faithful today to continue “to pray for the Pope and for the Church”. This was the first presence of the still Pope in a public ceremony, after having announced his resignation.

“As you know, I decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord entrusted to me on April 19, 2005,” Benedict XVI said to thousands of pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Room at the Vatican as he opened the Wednesday General Audience.

Benedict XVI underlined that the decision was taken “in full freedom for the good of the Church, after much prayer” and having “examined” the “conscience before God”.

The Pope stressed that he is “well aware of the gravity” of his act, “but also aware that he is no longer in a position to carry out the Petrine ministry with the physical strength and spirit that it requires”.

“Sustain me and enlighten me with the certainty that the Church belongs to Christ, who will never lack his guidance and care”, he said.

“I thank you all for the love and prayer with which you have accompanied me. Continue to pray for the Pope and for the Church”, he concluded, before starting the catechesis dedicated to Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, which takes place today.

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