EWTN Catholic Q&A
Election of a non-cardinal
Question from Andrew on 04-16-2005:

What happens if a non-cardinal is elected? How will the person be contacted? If he declines, does the voting continue regularly as described in EWTN's Voting link? Thank you so much! God Bless!

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 04-17-2005:

Universi dominici gregis provides in n. 90:

If the person elected resides outside Vatican City, the norms contained in the Ordo Rituum Conclavis are to be observed.

That ritual provides that the presiding cardinal and the two assistant cardinals are to call the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, who will act cautiously so that the one elected will arrive as soon as possible in Rome, "avoiding absolutely the means of social communication." At present the Substitute is Archbishop Leonardo Sandri. He would have to summon the individual to the Vatican, probably under some pretext. I doubt that any communication of what was actually occuring would take place outside the presence of the electors, that is, in the Sistine Chapel. Obviously, an astute person might guess why he has been called to Rome.