"The cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons," the document states.
"It is not my intention however to forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of views concerning the election," Pope St. John Paul II wrote in the document's same section.
Of his book, Weigel said "I hope it helps facilitate just that kind of reasoned, prudent discussion," even while its focus is a set of broad reflections on the life and mission of the papacy, and the Church.
Weigel also rejected the suggestion, made by some critics, that it is inappropriate to discuss the future of the papacy, or consider possible courses of papal action to address the Church's needs, while a pope is in office.
"It's ridiculous. I don't recall anyone making such a silly criticism when Peter Hebblethwaite and Luigi Accattoli wrote books about the future of the papacy during the pontificate of John Paul II."
"And I don't recall John Paul II, Benedict XVI, or Francis, during our personal conversations, ever suggesting that it was presumptuous for a layman to offer them counsel; which only makes sense, as they had asked me to tell them the truth as I understood it," Weigel added.
Accattoli was a long-time Vatican journalist, retired in 2008, who wrote several books on the state and needs of the Church during the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Hebblethwaite was a laicized priest and journalist who, in 1995, wrote a book entitled "The Next Pope: An Enquiry," that offered a sharp criticism of the papacy of John Paul II, and suggested what his successor might do.
Hebblethwaite was a Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. In 2004, writer Paul Elie characterized his book as "a polemic against what Hebblethwaite....saw as the interminable misrule of John Paul II."
Those books are not the only contribution to the genre of Church analysis, to which Weigel's book belongs, or of papal prognistication, to which Weigel's book does not.
In 2002, noted Vatican journalist John Allen published "Conclave," which looked at how cardinal electors might weigh the factors that go into choosing a papal candidate, and that offered a list of 20 likely candidates for the office. The National Catholic Register's Ed Pentin also will publish a book this summer entitled "The Next Pope." That book, like Allen's, but unlike Weigel's, mentions specific possible candidates for the papal office.
Cardinal Dolan could not be reached for comment before publication.
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In his remarks to CNA, Weigel questioned a description from the National Catholic Reporter of cardinals, who were not named in the report, left "speechless" that they had been sent the book.
"A 'speechless' cardinal may be something of an ontological impossibility, and in any event these 'speechless' cardinals seemed to find their voices when they wanted to. As I indicated previously, Cardinal Dolan didn't send them my book; Ignatius Press sent them my book and the cardinal kindly provided a cover letter thanking Ignatius Press for making the book available to the College of Cardinals. So if anyone was struck 'speechless' by Cardinal Dolan 'sending' them a book, they ought to look again at his letter and read it accurately this time."
"The College of Cardinals has not met as a group since February 2014. That unhappy fact is going to make the next interregnum and conclave difficult, as the members of the College really don't know each other. If 'The Next Pope' helps create networks of conversation among the cardinals in which they can think together about the future of the Church, I'll be well satisfied," Weigel added.