|Sistine chapel where cardinals vote|
|present-day Pope Francis I|
These are the steps to be followed when electing a new Pope:
- The Vatican organizes a conclave (=meeting) of cardinals that must begin 15-20 days after Benedict's XVI's resignation.
- Cardinals who can vote (those under age 80) are called to the Vatican City and take an oath of secrecy.
- There are currently 118 cardinals under age 80 who can vote, 67 of whom were appointed by Benedict.
- Any baptized Roman Catholic male can be elected as pope, but only cardinals have been selected since 1378.
- Two ballots (=voting sessions) are held each morning and two each afternoon in the Sistine Chapel. A two-thirds majority is required.
- Ballots are burnt after each round. Black smoke means no decision; white smoke means that cardinals have chosen pope and he has accepted. Bells also signal the election of a pope to avoid confusion with the smoke colour.
- The new pope is introduced St. Peter's Square with the words "Habemus Papam!" (Latin for "We have a pope!") and he then imparts his first blessing.
|former Pope Benedict XVI|
summarized and adapted from http://www.todaystmj4.com/news/local/190754891.html
More information about the process in the BBC website.