ELECTING THE NEXT POPE
Here's a handy
graphic from the Wall Street Journal.
Conclaves were installed
centuries ago in order to rid the voting process from outside influence. This
week's will be the tenth since 1903.
The conclave to elect the
next pope will begin Tuesday as Cardinals enter Sistine Chapel after celebrating
a pre-conclave Mass.
A total of 115 cardinals
will be involved in the process of choosing the new pope.
Only cardinals under the
age of 80 at the time of Benedict XVI's official resignation being eligible to
While some papal elections
centuries back lasted years, conclaves held in the past century have wrapped up
in two to five days.
The March 12 start gives
cardinals time to choose a new pope before the March 24 beginning of Holy
The cardinals can vote up
to four times a day with breaks for prayer if the process extends beyond a few
In order to become the new
pontiff, a candidate must secure two-thirds support — in this case 77 votes.
If a round of voting comes
up short, ballots are burned and black smoke rises from a stovepipe installed at
The public knows when a
new pontiff has been selected because white smoke rises from the chimney and the
basilica's bells toll.