Conclave Clickers

Tip o’ the pileus to the Nower Hill High School Classics folks on Twitter for alerting us to this interesting item from Sky:

Cardinals taking part in secret discussions ahead of next week’s Conclave to elect a new Pope have been using a remote control with buttons in Latin.

The state-of-the-art devices have been handed to the so-called “Princes of the Church” as the College of Cardinals hold their daily meetings at the Nervi hall in the Vatican.

Latin is the official language of the Vatican and numerous signs and documents are in the ancient language – as is a cashpoint machine just inside the walls by the Sant’Anna gate.

The remote control is used by the cardinals as they vote on a series of themes and topics that have come up for discussion ahead of the start of Tuesday’s Conclave in the Sistine Chapel.

The electronic devices have a small display with a Vatican stem showing the “sede vacante” or empty see, which denotes the fact that no Pope is in office since former Pontiff Benedict XVI stepped down last month.

Below the screen are two buttons – one coloured green with the word “confirmo” for send and one in red with “deleo” for delete.

Cardinals discuss matters in the Vatican ahead of the Conclave on Tuesday

Then there are four grey buttons with the words “placet” (agree), “non placet” (don’t agree), “abstineo” (abstain) and “luxta modum” – agree in principle.

During voting and meetings, the wifi system in the nearby press centre is switched off and a jamming device also prevents the use of mobile telephones to ensure that cardinals have no contact with the outside world.

The same principle is used for the Conclave, with a jamming system being place to prevent cardinals receiving and giving information on the secret ballot.

However, the voting procedure inside the Sistine Chapel follows a more traditional method, with the 115 elector cardinals (those under 80 years old) writing their nominations on a ballot paper – again written in Latin.

It says “Eligo in Summum Pontificem” (I elect to the Pontifical See) and then their chosen cardinal’s name. This is then put in an urn and the names are counted by scrutineers with a hole being pushed through each paper with a needle and thread.

These are then collected and burned in a stove inside the Sistine Chapel with chemicals being added which turn the resulting smoke white to signify a new Pope has been chosen or black to say there is still no decision.[…]

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