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Q&A: Gag order during election of pope dates to 1274

Jorge Mario Bergoglio attends his first Mass with cardinals as Pope Francis in the Sistine Chapel on Thursday in Vatican City.

Servizio Fotografico L’Osservatore Romano via Getty Images

Jorge Mario Bergoglio attends his first Mass with cardinals as Pope Francis in the Sistine Chapel on Thursday in Vatican City.

Conclave gag order dates to 1274

A gag order was issued to the cardinals prior to the concave to select the new pope. Who has the authority over the cardinals to issue such an edict?

The pope has the authority.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the decision to cloak the selection of a pope in secrecy was issued by Pope Gregory X in 1274. His decision was influenced by political interference that was causing succession to lag, sometimes for years. The position had sat empty for three years before he was elected in 1271.

At the Second Council of Lyons in 1274, Pope Gregory X decreed that the cardinals should be locked in seclusion until they had selected a new pope.

When they are in place, nowadays in the Sistine Chapel, the cardinals take this oath of secrecy:

"In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting; we promise and swear not to break this secret in any way, either during or after the election of the new Pontiff, unless explicit authorization is granted by the same Pontiff; and never to lend support or favor to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention, whereby secular authorities of whatever order and degree or any group of people or individuals might wish to intervene in the election of the Roman Pontiff."

But the cardinals aren't the only ones sworn to stay silent about the activities. According to the New York Times, "the secretary of the College of Cardinals, priests for cardinal confessions, doctors, nurses, elevator operators, security officers, cleaning and meal crews and minibus drivers who all serve the cardinals" — about 90 people — also took the oath.

And there are measures to address modern technology. TV, radio, newspapers and the Internet are banned. The New York Times reported that jamming devices are installed to prevent cell phone service, and technicians sweep the chapel for bugs and video devices.

Pope gets perks, but not pay

What is the salary of the pope?

The pope isn't paid, according to published reports. In 2009, Esquire magazine was told by a Vatican spokesman that "The Holy Father doesn't receive a salary, and the complete organisms of the Holy See provide or foresee to the needs of the daily activity of the Holy Father."

There are plenty of benefits that go along with the pressure of being the spiritual leader of about 1.2 billion Catholics. The pope has a grand 10-room apartment on top of the Apostolic Palace, the hilltop retreat named Castel Gandolfo, a fleet of specially outfitted Mercedes SUVs, cooks, a personal secretary, a butler, stylish robes and shoes, among other perks of the job.

Q&A: Gag order during election of pope dates to 1274 03/18/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 5:55pm]
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