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Papal Selection: The Process And The Candidates

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Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 28, cardinals at the Vatican have begun the conclave, or meeting, to select the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The process in brief:

• Each morning the cardinals meet in the Sistine Chapel and cast two ballots for a vote, with a 2/3rds majority required to elect a new pope. If no pope is chosen, the cardinals meet again in the afternoon and repeat the process.

• After each vote, the ballots are burned with the resulting smoke visible in the chapel's chimney. Black smoke indicates that no decision has been made. White smoke signals that cardinals have chosen a pope and he has accepted. The morning vote is usually completed by 7:30 a.m. EST, with the afternoon vote usually completed by 2:30 p.m. EST.

• If the smoke is black following the morning vote, the cardinals return to the chapel for the next vote in the afternoon. If the smoke is black that afternoon, they return for another vote the next morning. The process is repeated until a pope is chosen.

BACKGROUND

• Normally the conclave begins within 15-20 days of the pope's death; however since Benedict resigned the position, he signed an order before he stepped down that allowed the conclave to begin as soon as all the members of the College of Cardinals were present at the Vatican.

• The cardinals participating in the conclave must be under the age of 80. They have been been administered an oath of secrecy and are sequestered within Vatican City during the process.

• Any baptized Roman Catholic male is eligible for election as pope. However only cardinals have been selected since 1378.

• In 1996 a decision by Pope John Paul II decreed that instead of a 2/3rds vote, only a simple majority would be sufficient for election once a conclave went on for more than 12 days. However Benedict in 2007 reverted back to the 2/3rds majority rule in all cases.

• Once a pope is chosen, the white smoke signal is accompanied by bells. The new pope is introduced shortly thereafter from the loggia overlooking St. Peter's Square, with the words "Habemus Papam!" (Latin for "We have a pope!") and he imparts his first blessing.

The Candidates For The Papacy


Below is a look at the some of the men who are candidates for the papacy, as provided by the Associated Press.

POPE WATCH

TUESDAY'S RESULT: Black smoke, no new pope
NEXT VOTE: Wednesday morning
Cardinals cast votes each day until a candidate reaches a 2/3rds majority. The ballots are then burned, with black smoke indicating no decision and white smoke signaling the election of a new pope.

Pope Benedict XVI's resignation on February 28 set in motion a complex sequence of events to elect the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The laws governing the selection are the same as those in force after a papal death. Here is the procedure:

• The Vatican summons a conclave of cardinals to elect the new pope. Normally the conclave begins within 15-20 days, but Benedict signed an order before he resigned allowing the conclave to begin as soon as all the members of the College of Cardinals are present at the Vatican.

• Cardinals eligible to vote – those under age 80 – are sequestered within Vatican City and take an oath of secrecy.

• Any baptized Roman Catholic male is eligible for election as pope, but only cardinals have been selected since 1378.

• Two ballots are held each morning and two each afternoon in the Sistine Chapel. A two-thirds majority is required. Benedict in 2007 reverted back to this two-thirds majority rule, reversing a 1996 decision by Pope John Paul II, who had decreed that a simple majority could be invoked after about 12 days of inconclusive voting.

• The ballots are burned after each round of voting. Black smoke means no decision; white smoke signals that cardinals have chosen pope and he has accepted. Bells also signal the election of a pope to help avoid possible confusion over color of smoke coming from chimney of the Sistine Chapel.

• The new pope is introduced from the loggia overlooking St. Peter's Square with the words "Habemus Papam!" (Latin for "We have a pope!") and he imparts his first blessing.

The Candidates For The Papacy


Below is a look at the some of the men who are candidates for the papacy, as provided by the Associated Press.

POPE WATCH

TUESDAY'S RESULT: Black smoke, no new pope
NEXT VOTE: Wednesday morning
Cardinals cast votes each day until a candidate reaches a 2/3rds majority. The ballots are then burned, with black smoke indicating no decision and white smoke signaling the election of a new pope.

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