by Anura Guruge
80-year old Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar General for Rome from 1991 – 2008), on the eve of John Paul II’s (#265) May 1, 2011 beatification, has claimed that a number of cardinals, at the 2005 conclave, put forward a signed petition calling upon the yet to be elected new pope to fast track the beatification process. Ref. 1. Ref. 2
Cardinal Ruini should NOT have disclosed this!
It explicitly violates conclave protocol — and not just the well known blanket requirement about conclave secrecy.
A petition of this sort, trying to bind the new pope to a course of action requested by the cardinals, is called a capitulation.
The first capitulation took place at the 1352 conclave. [Pages 108 to 115 of 'The Next Pope' book.] Innocent VI (#200), the pope elected at that conclave, ignored the capitulation, stating that it was illegal, though he was one of the cardinals who signed it!
After this, capitulations occurred fairly regularly at conclaves — even though they were all promptly ignored by the new pope.
In 1692, after 300 years of this charade, Innocent XII (#243) banned capitulations.
The 2005 conclave that Ruini is talking about was governed by Ven. John Paul II’s 1996 Universi Dominci Gregis Apostolic Constitution. (See this post.)
Clause 82 of Universi Dominci Gregis alluding to capitulations state: “82. I likewise forbid the Cardinals before the election to enter into any stipulations, committing themselves of common accord to a certain course of action should one of them be elevated to the Pontificate. These promises too, should any in fact be made, even under oath, I also declare null and void.“
A petition of the sort talked about by Ruini falls into this category … since it tries to get the next pope to commit to a course of action.
Then there is also the whole issue of cardinal electors abstaining from distractions during the conclave. Gregory X (#185), who wisely instituted the whole notion of sequestered conclaves, said this in his seminal Ubi periculum constitution that laid out the initial dictates for future conclaves: ‘The cardinals are to devote all of their time to hasten the election, without taking any time out to deal with any other business – unless there is, by general consent, an urgent matter related to defense of the Church or the Papal States.’That fast-tracking John Paul II’s beatification was an urgent matter crucial to the defense of the Church would be quite a stretch — even for cardinals.
Even if this petition initiative actually happened during the conclave, Ruini should not have divulged it because it now makes the other cardinals and Pope Benedict XVI (#266) look bad!
It is possible that Cardinal Ruini misspoke or was misinterpreted. The term ‘conclave’ might have been loosely used to mean sede vacante. That cardinals talked about fast tracking John Paul II’s beatification immediately following his death was widely known. Raising a petition prior to the conclave would not have violated any protocols. So …