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(E) Strict Protocol Will be Followed to Elect New Pope
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  04/2/2005 | Religion | Unrated
(E) Strict Protocol Will be Followed to Elect New Pope


Strict Protocol Will be Followed to Elect New Pope

By VOA News
02 April 2005

Pope John Paul II
Following the death of a pope, the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church meet in a session known as a conclave to elect a successor.

The conclave, derived from a Latin word meaning locked together, must begin between 15 and 20 days following a pope's death.

The tradition of isolating the cardinals developed following a nearly three-year deadlock over a papal election in the 13th century. Church members, tired of waiting, locked the cardinals in a palace and removed the roof, forcing a quick election.

During the conclave, the 117 eligible cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel to vote four times a day, twice each in the morning and evening. Every time there is no winner, an official burns the ballots with a special chemical to produce black smoke that rises from a chimney above the chapel.

When the cardinals succeed, only the ballots are burned, sending white smoke rising from the chimney and signaling to the world that the 1.1 billion-member Roman Catholic Church has a new pontiff.

A senior cardinal then steps out onto the central balcony in front of Saint Peter's Basilica and announces in Latin to thousands of the faithful assembled in the square below - "habemus papam," or we have a pope.

The new pontiff then steps out in his papal robes and gives the city and the world his first blessing.


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