Catholics/All cardinals dead

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Question
Hypothetical question in Cannon Law.

If during a conclave ALL the cardinals were present, but during a round of voting, the sistine chapel ceiling caved in and all the cardinals died. According to cannon law how should we then proceed to select a new pope???

Answer
Hello, Bernard:

Thank you for the question.
I took a quick look through some of the contents of the Code of Canon Law, and did not find a reference to the specific hypothetical scenario you presented.  The basic assumption of the express laws in the Code of Canon Law assume that there will be Cardinals to elect a Pope.
There might be two basic ways to proceed on this question, and probably more:

1. Find out (if possible) whether there are bylaws or procedural documents of the Roman Curia that are supplemental to the Code itself that perhaps address the specific question of how to select a Pope, even if no Cardinal can do so, i.e. as in your hypothetical case, all Cardinals have been killed and are dead.

2. Maybe the certain procedural steps could be drawn out of various Canons in the Code by anology, concerning other kinds of elections and selections.  It would seem to me likely that the task of electing a Pope in this scenario would probably devolve to some kind of convocation of Archbishops and Bishops who would probably have to select a Pope.

It is an interesting question.  If you happen to find any concrete and particular information on the issue, please share it with us here at AllExperts website forum.  Thanks!

Fr. Timothy Johnson

Catholics

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