By Savannah Simons, Staff Writer
March 27, 2013
Half way through February, news broke out that for the first time in nearly 600 years the pope was resigning. With over 1.2 billion Roman Catholic followers, news shocked people all over the world.
The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415 in order to end the “Great Western Schism,” a split within the Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation due his inability to continue carrying on the role as pope.
“Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” said Benedict, according to the Vatican, CNN reported.
As Benedict left his post on Feb. 28, the search for the new pope to replace Benedict left his followers anxious to know whom their new leader would be.
Electing a new pope tends to be a long and timely process. A conclave, which is a meeting of the College of Cardinals who vote within Vatican City, begins no later than 20 days after the pope’s death, or in this case resignation, and no earlier than 15 days after. Voting members within the conclave are essentially sequestered within the Vatican and are unable to have any contact with anyone outside of the conclave.
The hospice in which the Cardinals stay during the voting period is inside the Vatican known as St. Martha’s House, which consists of 130 rooms.
In order to elect a new pope, procedures must be followed in an Apostolic Constitution called Universi Dominci Gregis, otherwise referred to as UDG. The UDG requires that only a maximum of 120 electors from the College of Cardinals are eligible to vote, while the college currently holds 194 cardinals. Of these 120 electors, any cardinal who turns 80 prior to the vacancy of the Papacy is unable to take part in the election.
Two ballots are held in the morning and afternoon, totaling at four ballots a day. A two-thirds-plus-one majority must be in effect to elect a new pope and if a new pope has not been selected within a 12- to 13-day timeframe, the cardinals have the option of imposing a majority vote.
While it was expected to have elected a new pope by Easter, it came by surprise as the conclave announced the new pope after only two days of voting.
White smoke was released from the Sistine Chapel chimney, announcing that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is elected pope, the first South American to lead the church.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has taken the name of Pope Francis I, is the 266th pope of the Catholic Church.
With a new leader, followers of the Catholic Church are eager to know more about their first Argentinian pope.
Maddie Brown, a member of High Point University’s Catholic Campus Ministry, comments on the idea that followers viewed Pope Benedict XVI as too conservative, while others disagreed.
“I think in general you want from a pope what you would want from any leader,” said Brown. “Except you also need to add the compassion that our faith provides us.”
Brown explains her vision of the new pope, hoping he is able to deal with the problems of the Church by navigating and negotiating through those problems, but to remain open-minded to other peoples’ views.
The Catholic Church’s 266th pontiff, Pope Francis I, was inaugurated in Rome before an audience of tens of thousands on March 19.
“I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment,” said Pope Francis in his inauguration speech, the New York Times reported.
Pope Francis called for the protections of the weakness and poorest in society and pledged to serve as a world leader.