Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
|Dates and location|
|14-16 October 1978|
Sistine Chapel, Apostolic Palace,
|Protopriest||Carlos Carmelo de Vasconcelos Motta|
Name taken: John Paul II
The papal conclave of October 1978 was triggered by the death of Pope John Paul I on 28 September just 33 days after his election on 26 August. The conclave to elect John Paul I's successor began on 14 October and ended two days later on 16 October, after eight ballots. The cardinal electors elected Cardinal Karol Józef Wojty?a, Archbishop of Kraków, as the new pope. Resulting in the most recent Year of Three Popes, he accepted his election and took the pontifical name of John Paul II.
Ten days after the funeral of Pope John Paul I, on 14 October, the doors of the Sistine Chapel were sealed and the conclave commenced. It was divided between two particularly strong candidates for the papacy: Giuseppe Siri, the conservative Archbishop of Genoa, and the liberal Giovanni Benelli, the Archbishop of Florence and a close associate of John Paul I.
Supporters of Benelli were confident that he would be elected. In early ballots, Benelli came within nine votes. But the scale of opposition to both papabili meant that neither was likely to receive the two-thirds plus one needed for election. Among the Italian contingent, Giovanni Colombo was the only viable compromise candidate, but when he started to receive votes, he announced that if elected he would decline to accept the papacy. Cardinal Franz König, the influential and widely respected Archbishop of Vienna, individually suggested to his fellow electors a compromise candidate: the Polish Cardinal Karol Józef Wojty?a, whom König knew and by whom he was highly impressed.
Also among those cardinals who rallied behind Wojty?a were supporters of Siri, Stefan Wyszy?ski, most of the American cardinals (led by John Krol), and other moderate cardinals. Wojty?a ultimately defeated Benelli (who was supposedly the candidate Wojty?a himself had voted for) on the eighth ballot on the third day with, according to the Italian press, 99 votes from the 111 participating electors. He accepted his election with these words: "With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and with trust in the Mother of Christ and the Church, in spite of great difficulties, I accept." The Pope, in tribute to his immediate predecessor, then took the name of John Paul II. He became the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Adrian VI, who reigned from 1522 to 1523.
|Rest of Europe||30|
|DECEASED POPE||John Paul I |
|NEW POPE||John Paul II |
At 6:18 p.m. local time (17:18 UTC), the white smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, announcing to the public that a new pope had been elected. The senior Cardinal Deacon, Pericle Felici, after quickly checking the correct pronunciation of the new pope's Polish name with Cardinal Stefan Wyszy?ski, gave the traditional Latin announcement of Wojty?a's election from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
Praised be Jesus Christ! Dear brothers and sisters, we are still all very saddened by the death of the very dear Pope John Paul I. And now the most eminent cardinals have called a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a far-away country...far, but always near in the communion of faith and the Christian tradition. I was afraid in receiving this nomination, but I did it in the spirit of obedience to Our Lord and with total trust in his Mother, the Most Holy Madonna. I don't know if I can express myself well in your - in our - Italian language. But if I make a mistake, you will correct me. And so I introduce myself to you all, to confess our common faith, our hope, our trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, and also to begin again on this path of history and of the Church with the help of God and with that of men.
During the speech, a member of the Roman Curia requested that the new pope end his speech, but the pope ignored the admonition and continued talking. The speech made a good impression on Italian listeners who were nervous at the prospect of a foreign pope.
The rule Paul VI established in Ingravescentem aetatem (1970) and reiterated in Romano Pontifici Eligendo (1975) limited participation in the conclave to cardinals who had yet to reach the age of 80 on the first day of the conclave. The August 1978 conclave was the first in which this rule applied and that of October 1978 the second. The 15 cardinals ineligible to participate in both 1978 conclaves were: