The cardinal electors

Source: FSSPX News


Two cardinal electors could not take part in the conclave which began on April 18. Indeed, for health reasons, Cardinal Jaime L. Sin, archbishop emeritus of Manila, in the Philippines, and Cardinal Alfonso Antonio Suarez Rivera, archbishop emeritus of Monterrey in Mexico, were not able to go to Rome, to take part in the vote for the election of the next pope. The number of electors is thus 115.

"After the funeral of John Paul II, the cardinals entered upon a period of more intense silence and prayers, in view of the conclave" declared Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the spokesman of the Vatican. This is why, "the cardinals have unanimously decided to avoid interviews and meetings with the medias during these days".

Journalists are requested to abstain from asking for interviews with, or other comments from the cardinals during that time, specified Joaquin Navarro-Valls. According to him, this gesture must not be understood as a "lack of courtesy" or as a lack of interest in the press. On the contrary, he insisted, "the cardinals do not fail to thank" the media for the great interest with which they cover this period of time. The spokesman of the Holy See, nevertheless stressed the fact that "this is not an interdiction, but an invitation extended to the press".

In a most straightforward manner, we learn from the Vatican expert Luigi Accattoli, in Il Corriere della Sera of April 7, 2005, that the dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, invited his colleagues on April 5 "not to grant interviews". As he did not gain everybody’s assent, on the next day, the German cardinal proposed that interviews be granted to journalists only on general topics, and he demanded that the secret about the conclave be preserved, and that all allusions to discussions or internal dissensions within the college of cardinals be avoided as well as any mention of papabili.

 In conformity with the Apostolic Constitution Universi dominici gregis, "at the time appointed for the beginning of the proceedings for the election of the pope, all the cardinal electors must be attributed suitable lodgings in the building called Domus Sanctæ Marthæ recently built in the Vatican City, and must stay there". If for health reasons some cardinal electors require the assistance of a male nurse, even during the election, appropriate lodging must be provided for this latter.

As soon as the death of John Paul II was announced, all the ordinary  boarders of the House St Martha began to look for some other lodgings in Rome.

The House St Martha was built at the request of John Paul II between the years 1993 and 1996 behind the large Paul VI hall where general audiences usually take place. In this vast five-story building painted in light yellow, the cardinal electors may find a dwelling place upon their arrival in Rome. Nevertheless, cardinals living in Rome, and those who wish, may repair to the House St Martha only at the time of the opening of the conclave.

The cardinals have at their disposal an individual room with a private bathroom. Most of them also have an extra room which can be used as an office. On every floor, a small chapel enables them to offer Mass and to spend time in recollection. The meals are served in the large dining-room on the ground floor.