Something I heard on a radio program got me thinking along a morbid line, but what if a terrorist blew up the Sistine Chapel during the conclave? What would we do about a pope?
I would suppose that the two remaining cardinals under the age of 80, and thus eligible to vote, would become the entire conclave. They are Cardinal Jaime Sin, emeritus of Manila, and Cardinal Adolfo Suarez Rivera, emeritus of Monterrey, Mexico, both of whom were too sick to travel to Rome and participate. Of course, they would have to be brought together and I suppose their vote would need to be unanimous because it’s difficult to get a two-thirds majority or even a simple majority with just two people.
The new pope would not have to be one of them. As we know, the pope can be any Catholic man eligible to be ordained a bishop and would probably be some archbishop somewhere who was in line to become a cardinal at the next consistory. Or it could be one of the 80+ year old cardinals, who are too old to vote. Then the new pope could quickly name a whole bunch of new cardinals and we’d be back to where we are now.
Like I said, a morbid line of thought, but interesting nonetheless. Thankfully we wouldn’t have to resort to some of the other methods used to select popes throughout history, like appointment by political rulers or popular acclaim of the people of Rome.
Just some idle speculation for the week before the conclave.