Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Motu Proprio Released

This morning's Bollettino of the Holy See Press Office contains the text of the motu proprio of Benedict XVI restoring the traditional form of...

...papal elections.

As it wasn't what they were looking for, many will likely stop reading at that. But for the still-intrigued, B16 has legislated a return to the traditional practice that the required supermajority for the election of a new Pope be always and everywhere two-thirds.

Backstory: in Universi Dominici Gregis -- his 1996 document on norms for a conclave -- John Paul II decreed that, should no winner arise after 30 ballots (or 32, if the electors decide to enter the conclave on the morning of its opening day), the cardinal-electors may exercise the prerogative of choosing the Roman pontiff by an absolute majority.

Citing many appeals to John Paul asking for the provision's reversal, in this morning's text, signed 11 June, Benedict abrogated it, restoring the mandatory two-thirds margin in all cases, but with a caveat: after the aforementioned 30 (or 32) ballots, the two highest vote-getters on the preceding canvass face only each other in a runoff. 

The deadlock-breaking strategy -- which John Paul permitted as an option in his 1996 norms, but made mandatory today should the moment arise -- creates the scenario of a final scrutiny in which the candidates themselves are deprived of "active voice" and, ergo, may not vote; in prior conclave norms, the required count was two-thirds plus one, so a Pope-elect's theoretical choice (i.e. of himself) wouldn't count toward getting him over the top.

As anything even tangentially related to papal death gets tongues wagging and wags buzzing, here goes a day of frenzy.