THEVATICAN -- Are you curious about the process, and what it takes to elect a Pope?Here are some facts from about the process:

  • After the departure of the previous Pope there are 15-20 days of General Congregations , sermons, to determine what kind of Pope the Church needs, then the Cardinal Electors enter the Conclave to choose which of them will emerge as Holy Roman Pontiff.
  • The Cardinals take seats around the wall of the Sistine Chapel and vote on a paper ballot. They fold it, then one-by-one approach the alter and slide their vote into a chalice. The votes are counted, read aloud, written on a tally sheet then sewn together. The ballots and any notes are then burned. If a new Pope is elected they add a chemical to make the smoke white (it used to be wet straw that made the smoke white). If no Pope is elected the paper burns black.
  • If a Pope is elected the bells of St. Peter s Basilica will also ring.
  • It takes a 2/3 vote to elect the Pope, unless a certain number of ballots have taken place without any Cardinal elected, then the Cardinals may elect by simple majority.
  • The Cardinals vote once on the first day, then twice each morning and twice each afternoon. If nobody is elected after the first 3 votes they may devote up to a day of prayer and discussion before resuming.
  • When a Cardinal receives the required number of votes, the Dean of the College of Cardinals asks him if he accepts and by what name he wishes to be called as Pope.
  • When the announcement is made Catholic Churches around the world ring their bells, including the Churches in our area. They also drape colored cloth over their doors to show there is a new Pope.
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