Paul VI (Romano Pontifici eligendo, 1 October 1975), issued norms for the College of Cardinals during a vacancy of the Holy See and the election of the Pope; he provided:
- While the Apostolic See is Vacant, the government of the Church is in the hands of the Sacred College of Cardinals only with regard to ordinary business and those matters which cannot be deffered, and with regard to the preparation of all those matters which are necessary
for the election of the new Pope.
- Consequently, during the vacancy, the Sacred College has no power or jurisdiction in those matters which pertain to the Supreme Pontiff while he is alive; all those matters must be reserved for the future Pope alone.
- When business must be expedited . . . the Sacred College of Cardinals should act according to the decision of the majority.
- During the vacancy, cardinals should wear the customary red-trimmed black cassock and red sash.
- All cardinals who are heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the Cardinal Secretary of State, on the occasion of the death of the Pontiff, cease from their offices with the exception of the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church,60 the Major Penitentiary and the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome.
- If the office of the Chamerlengo of the Holy Roman Church or of the Major Penitentiary becomes vacant, the College of Cardinals must elect a successor as soon as possible.
- If the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome dies during vacancy, the Viceregent shall take his place. If the Viceregent is also dead or impeded, the senior auxiliary bishop shall take his place.
- The right to elect the Roman Pontiff belongs soley to the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church with the exception of those who, at the time of entrance into the conclave, have already completed their eightieth year of age. The maximum number of cardinals elector should not exceed one hundred twenty.
- After a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church has been created and announced in a consistory, he, by that very fact, immediately has the right to elect the Pontiff, even though the biretta has not yet been imposed on him . . . .However, cardinals who have been canonically deposed or who, with the consent of the Roman Pontiff, have renounced the cardinalitial dignity, do not possess this right. Futhermore, the Sacred College of Cardinals may not, during the vacancy of the Holy See, reinstate or rehabilitate them.
- After the death of the Pontiff, the cardinals elector who are present, must wait for fifteen solid days for those who are absents; the Sacred College of Cardinals has the power, however, to delay entry into the conclave for twenty days; after that the cardinals elector who are present must enter the conclave and proceed with the election.
- Nevertheless, cardinals elector, if they arrive [before the pope is elected] should be admitted to the conclave.
- In addition to the cardinals elector, the following should enter into the conclave:
- The secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals who performs the functions of secretary of the conclave
- the Vicar General of the Roman Pontiff for Vatican City
- Master of Pontifical Ceremonies
- Two doctors: a surgeon and an internist
- Architect of the conclave
- Two expert technicians
- Election shall be by two-thirds plus one of the votes required.
- After his acceptance, if the electee already possesses episcopal ordination, he is at that very moment the Bishop of the Church of Rome and, at the same instant, the true Pope and Head of the Episcopal College. He actually acquires and can exercise full and supreme power over the universal Church.
- The episcopal ordination of the Supreme Pontiff-elect who is not yet a bishop is conferred by the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, or, if he is absent, by the Assistant Dean, or if he also is impeded, by the senior cardinal bishop.
- During the conclave which elected John XXIII Vatican Radio mistakenly informed the world one day early that a Pope had been elected. At the conclave which elected Paul VI, to avoid confusion concerning the color of the smoke, electronic signals were installed, marked white and black, to inform Vatican Radio.62
- John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici 22 February 1996)
- Powers of College during vacancy
- During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the College of Cardinals has no power of jurisdiction in matters which pertain to the Supreme Pontiff during his lifetime or in the exercise of his office.
- During the vacancy the cardinals are to wear the usual black cassock with piping and the red sash, with skullcap, pectoral cross and ring.
- At the death of the pope all heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia cease to exercise their office except for the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church63 and the Major Penitentiary. Likewise the cardinal vicar general for the Diocese of Rome continues in office as does the cardinal archpriest of the Vatican basilica and the vicar general for the Vatican City.
- Should the offices of Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church or of Major Penitentiary be vacant at the time of the pope's death or should they become vacant before the election of his successor, the College of Cardinals shall as soon as possible elect the cardinal or cardinals who shall hold these offices until the election of the new pope.
- If the vicar general of the Diocese of Rome dies during the vacancy, the viceregent shall exercise this office. If there is no viceregent, the auxilary bishop who is senior by appointment shall exercise this office.
- Election of the Roman Pontiff
- The right to elect the Roman pontiff belongs exclusively to the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, with the exception of those who have reached their 80th birthday before the day of the Roman Pontiff's death or the day when the Apostolic See becomes vacant. The maximum number of cardinal electors must not exceed 120.
- A cardinal of the Holy Roman Church who has been created and published before the College of Cardinals thereby has the right to elect the pope, even if he has not yet received the red hat or the ring or sworn the oath. Cardinals who have been canonically deposed or who with the consent of the Roman pontiff have renounced the cardinalate do not have the right to elect. The College of Cardinals cannot re admit or rehabilitate them.
- From the moment the Apostolic See is vacant, the cardinal electors must wait 15 full days before beginning the election; they may wait a maximum of 20 days before beginning the conclave.
- The conclave shall take place within the territory of the Vatican City.
- During the conclave the cardinal electors shall reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
- The following person shall also be admitted:
- the secretary of the College of Cardinals who acts as the secretary of the conclave
- papal master of ceremonies along with two masters of ceremonies and two religious attached to the papal sacristy
- an ecclesiastic chosen to assist the cardinal dean or the cardinal taking his place
- two medical doctors
- cooks and housekeepers
- The election is to take place in the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
- Two thirds of the votes, calculated on the basis of the total number of electors present, are required for election. If it is impossible to divide the number of electors into three equal parts, one additional vote shall be required for election.
- There shall be two ballots in the morning and two ballots in the afternoon.
- After balloting has been carried out for three days without result, voting is to be suspended for a maximum of one day.
- After seven ballots, there shall be another pause.
- Another series of seven ballots is then held. If election has not taken place, there is another pause.
- Another series of seven ballots is then held.
- Then, if balloting has not resulted in an election, the cardinal electors shall be invited to express an opinion about the manner of proceeding. The election will then proceed as the absolute majority of the electors decides. Nevertheless, there can be no waiver of the requirement that a valid election takes place only by an absolute majority of the votes or else by voting only on the two names which in the ballot immediately preceding have received the greatest number of votes; in this second case only an absolute majority is required.
- The crime of simony shall not invalidate or nullify the election.
- Civil authorities may not veto any candidate.
- Any one may be elected; membership in the College of Cardinals is not required.
- When the election has taken place, the cardinal dean, or the cardinal who is first in order and seniority, asks the one elected: Do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff? Then he asks: By what name do you wish to be called?
- After his acceptance, the person elected, if he has already received episcopal ordination, is immediately bishop of the church of Rome, true pope and head of the college of bishops. He thus acquires and can exercise full and supreme power over the universal church. If the person elected is not already a bishop, he shall be immediately ordained bishop.
- The senior cardinal deacon announces that the election has taken place and proclaims the name of the new pope.
- If the newly elected supreme pontiff is not already a bishop, his episcopal ordination shall be carried out by the dean of the College of Cardinals or, in his absence, by the subdean or, should he too be prevented from doing so, by the senior cardinal bishop.
- I hereby declare abrogated all constitutions and orders issued by the Roman Pontiffs, and at the same time I declare completely null and void anything done by any person, whatever his authority, in any way contrary to this constitution.
57. Canon 350 s5. A cardinal from the diaconal rank who transfers to the presbyteral rank precedes all those cardinal presbyters who became cardinals after him.
58. Canon 355 s2: The first cardinal deacon announces to the people the name of the newly elected Supreme Pontiff; he likewise invests metropolitans with the pallium or hands it over to their proxies in place of the Roman Pontiff.
59. Canon 357 s2: The cardinals who are staying outside Rome and outside their own diocese are exempt from the power of governance of the bishop of the diocese in which they are staying in those matters which concern their own person.
Canon 967s1: Besides the Roman Pontiff, cardinals by the law itself possess the faculty to hear the confessions of the Christian faithful anywhere in the world.
60. When the pope dies the Chamberlain confirms the death by withdrawing the sheet covering the pontiff's face and calling him three times by his baptismal name. When he receives no response, he says to his assistants: The pope is truly dead. The Chancellor destroys the Fisherman's ring by breaking off the gold rim bearing the late pope's name.
While Holy See is vacant, the Chamberlain administers the temporal affairs of the church. The chamberlain's emblem is the Pavilion: a large red and yellow stripped umbrella symbolizing the temporal power of the church. Coins minted during the vacancy carry the Chamberlain's coat of arms surmounted by the Pavilion. This custom dates from 1521. Peter Nichols, The Politics of the Vatican (New York: Praeger, 1968) 139.
Four times during the twentieth century the office of Chamberlain has been held by the secretary of state:
- Pietro Gasparri was the Secretary of State and Chamberlain when Benedict XV died.
- Pacelli was the Secretary of State and Chamberlain when Pius XI died.
- Jean Villot, the first non-Italian to hold the office of Chamberlain, was the Secretary of State and Chamberlain when Paul VI and John Paul I died.
- Oreglia was Chamberlain when Leo XIII died in 1903.
- Francesco Salesio della Volpe was Chamberlain when Pius X died in 1914.
- Benedetto Aloisi Masella was elected Chamberlain when Pius XII died in 1958.
- Benedetto Aloisi Masella was Chamberlain when John XXIII died.
61. The Apostolic Penitentiary is one of the few organs which continues to function during the sede vacant. The Cardinal Penitentiary is the only member of the College with the right to remain in contact with his office during a conclave. "The mystery of the charity of God . . . tolerates no interruption." P.C. Van Lierde, Dietro il Portone di Bronzo (Rome, 1961) quoted in Peter Nichols, The Politics of the Vatican (New York: Praeger, 1968) 164.
62. John G. Clancy, Apostle for Our Time: Pope Paul VI (New York: Avon, 1963) 193.
63. The Camerlengo officially ascertains the pope's death and places seals upon the pope's study and bedroom. During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Camerlengo administers the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See.
The destruction of the fisherman's ring and of the lead seals (used on apostolic letters) is overseen by the general congregation of cardinals.