Pope Benedict XVI has published his last Motu Proprio concerning the rules of the Conclave as laid out in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, by Blessed Pope John Paul II, to clarify and modify some portions of the rules to suit the developments in the current time, and to affirm the rules as written in the Universi Dominici Gregis.
1. Cardinal-electors that had been given the right to elect the new Pope and had been rightfully granted that right must not be deprived of his right to join the Conclave and elect the new Pope.
2. It grants the College of Cardinals more liberty in the date of the commencement of the Conclave, providing all the Cardinals rightfully given the voting rights and intending to attend the Conclave has been gathered in Rome, as opposed to the previous rule of compulsory 15 days between the vacancy of the See of Rome to the beginning of the Conclave. 15 days here should still be observed, but if the College deems it right for the Conclave to begin, they can do so. Thus, the Conclave can begin earlier than 15 March 2013 for this year’s Conclave.
3. The whole area of the Vatican City and the areas around the Sistine Chapel will be restricted during the period of the Conclave, to prevent any leakage of secrecy of the Conclave to the outside world. Especially the area from Domus Sancta Marthae where the Cardinals reside during the Conclave and the Sistine Chapel, where they gather and vote. Anyone breaching this rule, will be given latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication, which is more precisely mentioned than the previous rule, which only mentioned severe punishment. Latae sententiae excommunication is specified in the new ruling.
4. The oaths prescribed in the Universi Dominici Gregis, to be taken by every Cardinal-electors at the start of the Conclave. In addition, in the new rule, all those involved in the Conclave, also have to take the oath, not just the Cardinal-electors :
Latin : ‘Ego N. N. promitto et iuro me inviolate servaturum esse secretum absolutum cum omnibus quotquot participes non sunt Collegii Cardinalium electorum, hoc quidem in perpetuum, nisi mihi datur expresse peculiaris facultas a novo Pontifice electo eiusve Successoribus, in omnibus quae directe vel indirecte respiciunt suffragia et scrutinia ad novum Pontificem eligendum.
Itemque promitto et iuro me nullo modo in Conclavi usurum esse instrumentis quibuslibet ad vocem transmittendam vel recipiendam aut ad imagines exprimendas quovis modo aptis de iis quae tempore electionis fiunt intra fines Civitatis Vaticanae, atque praecipue de iis quae quolibet modo directe vel indirecte attinent ad negotia coniuncta cum ipsa electione. Declaro me editurum esse ius iurandum utpote qui plane noverim quamlibet eius violationem adducturam esse excommunicationis mihi poenam latae sententiae Sedi Apostolicae reservatae.’
English (rough translation) : ‘I, NN., promise and swear to keep inviolate the absolute secret from all those who are not participants in the (election of the Pope) by the College of Cardinals, even in perpetuity, unless expressly given me special permission from the newly elected Pope and his successors, in all things which are directly or indirectly concern the votes and ballots to the choosing a new Pope.
So again, I promise and I swear I am in no way, whatsoever, to the sound of instruments in the Conclave of sending or receiving, or would make use of to represent the images in any way suitable at the time of the election are to be done within the confines of Vatican City on those matters which, in any way, and especially on those matters which pertain to the business of directly or indirectly linked to with the election. It is well explained and clear to me, who so obviously should know that any violation of his oath will lead to excommunication to me, under the penalty of latae sententiae excommunication, reserved to the Apostolic See.
5. That the new Pope can only be elected with secret ballot or scrutiny. No acclamation, no compromise, and no absolute majority (or more than 50% of votes) in the event of long conclave. This has been earlier abrogated by Pope Benedict XVI who reiterated the absolute requirement of at least two-thirds of all Cardinals’ votes for one to be elected a new Pope.
6. If the Conclave failed to reach conclusion after a period of time, a day of prayer and reflection, and contemplation should be included before voting begins again. Then in the next round of voting, only the two names with the highest number of votes in the previous ballot would be included.
7. The formula of the question by the Cardinal Dean to the newly elected Pope is affirmed :
Latin : Acceptasne electionem de te canonice factam in Summum Pontificem?
English : Do you accept the Canonical election as the Supreme Pontiff?
Latin : Accepto
English : I accept
Latin : Quo nomine vis vocari?
English : What do you wish to be called?
Latin : Vocabor X
English : I wish to be called X.
(X will be the regnal name, for example, Benedict for our Pope Benedict XVI)