Before beginning their deliberations, the cardinals, chanting the names of the saints in Latin, proceeded into the chapel, which had been swept for listening devices and fitted with jamming equipment to block the sending of text messages, e-mails or tweets.
Seated at long tables, with Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment” high above them on the frescoed walls, the cardinals recited an oath in unison, vowing to act in accord with the Holy Spirit and keep the confidentiality of the conclave.
They then lined up and, one at a time, placed their right hand on an open Bible. With Italian, Spanish, German, American, Indian and myriad other accents, they again vowed in Latin: “So help me God, and these Holy Gospels, which I touch with my hand.” Television cameras were permitted to record the scene, which was transmitted live on CNN and other news stations around the world.
Then Guido Marini, the master of papal liturgical celebrations and a famous stickler for the rules, cried “extra omnes,” meaning “everyone out!” Aides, staff and television crews promptly headed for the doors.
The Holy Spirit at the papal conclave plays a large role, Mathew Schmalz wrote:
When Catholics talk about religious “inspiration,” they usually are thinking about the Holy Spirit. In Catholic doctrine, the Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity. The Catholic catechism refers to the Holy Spirit with the pronoun “he,” and Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “paraclete,” the “consoler,” or “he who is called to one’s side.”
For Catholics, the Holy Spirit comes through baptism, and through the other sacraments. But he also comes in ways we do not expect. Knowledge and wisdom are among the seven gifts that the Holy Spirit brings to sanctify a person. There are also special or “charismatic” graces associated with Holy Spirit that are specific gifts related to a particular task or vocation for the common good.
All these gifts of the Holy Spirit figure into how the conclave is designed.
The Mass is more than a ceremony to inaugurate the proceedings. It is a sacrament that bestows grace on those who are properly disposed. The meditative chanting of “Come Holy Spirit” is not only a petition or plea, it is a way of quieting one’s mind and heart, so that the Holy Spirit can be felt and heard.
Picking a pope isn’t easy, and the leaders must take many things into account, according to Clayton Christensen:
As we watch the news coming out of the Vatican, and the anointment of a major religious leader, we return to the question of why so many churches are in decline — and who could successfully lead their 21st-century resurgence. Are the young falling away because they can’t relate to leaders from prior generations? Could more flexible leaders convince those who are leaving to come back? Should we blame out-of-date beliefs that leave clergy with flimsy answers to today’s questions?