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Vatican: Early Conclave of Cardinals Authorized, Cardinal Keith O'Brien's Resignation accepted

By Deacon Keith Fournier
February 25th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The historic nature of the events unfolding in the Catholic Church becomes even more dramatic on a daily basis. On Monday morning, February 25, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI issued, on his own authority (Motu proprio), an apostolic letter modifying the time period required for the convening of a conclave of Cardinal Electors to choose his successor

Vatican: Early Conclave of Cardinals Authorized, Cardinal Keith O'Brien's Resignation accepted

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - The historic nature of the events unfolding in the Catholic Church becomes even more dramatic on a daily basis. On Monday morning, February 25, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI issued, on his own authority (Motu proprio), an apostolic letter modifying the time period required for the convening of a conclave of Cardinal Electors to choose his successor.

In addition, the penalties for violating the oath of secrecy concerning the deliberations was also strengthened. Finally, the controversial report concerning the Commission investigating the so called Vati-leaks controversy will be presented to the next Pope. Speculation concerning this report runs rampant on the media. 

Here is the Vatican Radio report with an explanation of each modification:

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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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In addition, the controversy surrounding allegations against Cardinal Keith O'Brien, which emerged only last week, shows no signs of abating.

Fr Federico Lombardi of the Vatican Press Office announced on February 25, 2013, Monday morning that his resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict on 18 February. He will not attend the Conclave.

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