upon the resignation of pope benedict xvi n.
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Upon the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. How is a Pope Elected. How is the New Pope Chosen?. The Church leaders, designated as the College of Cardinals, gather in Rome, Italy to elect a new Pope either when the previous Pope dies or resigns

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How is a Pope Elected

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how is the new pope chosen
How is the New Pope Chosen?
  • The Church leaders, designated as the College of Cardinals, gather in Rome, Italy to elect a new Pope either when the previous Pope dies or resigns
  • This process of electing the new Pope is known as a conclave
the conclave
The Conclave
  • The election of a Pope is quite different than a democratic election for a mayor or a president
  • Political campaigning, debates, and speeches are irrelevant in selecting the next Pope
  • Secrecy is very important so that the cardinals are not influenced by other people
  • All cardinals under the age of 80 years old will remain, under locked doors, until they choose a new Pope

They promise not to use their cell phones, read newspapers, and they stay together at the Vatican the entire time of the election, whether it be days or weeks

before the sealing of the sistine chapel
Before the sealing of the Sistine Chapel
  • The cardinals hear two sermons before the election: one before entering the conclave, and one once they are settled in the Sistine Chapel
  • In both cases, the sermons are meant to lay out the current state of the Church, and to suggest the qualities necessary for a new pope
on the morning of the conclave
On the Morning of the Conclave

On the morning of the day designated by the Congregations of Cardinals, the cardinal electors assemble in St Peter's Basilica to celebrate the Eucharist

on the morning of the conclave1
On the Morning of the Conclave

Then, they gather in the afternoon in the Pauline Chapel of the Palace of the Vatican, proceeding to the Sistine Chapel while singing the Veni Creator Spiritus

taking the oath
Taking the oath
  • The Cardinals then take an oath to observe the procedures set down by the apostolic constitutions
  • The Cardinal Dean reads the oath aloud in full; in order of precedence, the other cardinal electors merely state, while touching the Gospels, that they "do so promise, pledge and swear"
expelling the outsiders
Expelling the outsiders
  • After all the cardinals present have taken the oath, the Master of the Papal Liturgical Celebrations orders all individuals other than the cardinals electors and conclave participants to leave the Chapel
  • Traditionally, he stands at the door of the Sistine Chapel and calls out: "Extra omnes!" (Latin for, roughly, "Everybody else, out!")
  • He then closes the door
voting in the sistine chapel
Voting In the Sistine Chapel
  • Voting takes place in the Sistine Chapel
  • Each completed ballot is placed on an open paten, and then dropped into a chalice
the white smoke
The White Smoke
  • If the two-thirds majority is not reached, the ballots are burned in a stove with a chemical to emit black smoke (straw used to be added to make the smoke black)
  • If white smoke is seen, then a new pope has been elected
  • This balloting process occurs twice a day until a pope is elected
time for prayer and reflection
Time for Prayer and Reflection
  • The cardinals who will vote spend time praying and listening to the Holy Spirit in their hearts before they vote
  • This way, they know the man they elect as the new leader of the Church on earth is the one that Jesus would call if he were on the earth today, just like he called Peter

Because the cardinals are still in the locked room, the people waiting outside watch the chimney to learn whether a Pope has been elected or not


When selected, the presiding cardinal approaches the elected for his consent

If he accepts, he chooses a papal name, like Benedict XVI or Pope John Paul II, which has lineage to a Saint or another Pope

the room of tears
“The Room of Tears”
  • Immediately upon acceptance of his appointment, the new Pope is led into a small antechamber to the Sacristy of the Sistine Chapel, where he reflects on the heavy burden he will carry
  • This area is known as “The Room of Tears”
the room of tears1
“The Room of Tears”
  • He then dresses in white [cassock and zucchetto] and is announced to the world from the balcony above Saint Peter’s Square
  • Next, the senior Cardinal Deacon appears at the main balcony of the basilica's façade to proclaim the new pope with the Latin phrase…
habemus papam
  • Annuntiovobisgaudiummagnum:


  • I announce to you a great joy:

We have a Pope!