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How a pope is elected, continued…

Because of lack of space last week, I omitted just a few details about the voting procedures in choosing a new pope, while still giving you the gist. Here are the missing details….

Once the ballots have been collected and counted and ‘threaded’, any handwritten notes made by the cardinals during the vote are collected for burning with the ballots. If the first vote of the morning or evening session is in-conclusive, a second vote normally follows immediately, and the ballots from both votes are burned together at the end. If a conclave has not elected a pope after 3 days there will be a pause of one day. During that time, the cardinals pray and engage in informal discussions. They also hear a brief spiritual exhortation from the senior cardinal in the order of deacons. After this pause, voting is to resume. After seven more ballots, if the result is still inconclusive, there is another pause for prayer and discussion. This time the reflection would be given by the senior cardinal in the order of priests. Another seven ballots is to take place, followed by another pause, this time with remarks from the senior cardinal in the order of bishops. Voting is again resumed for another seven ballots. If there is still no winner, the cardinals may decide to take the two names with the largest number of votes in the previous round and decide between them by a majority vote.)

When a candidate is lawfully elected, either with a two-thirds majority or in the other manners described above, the dean of the College of Cardinals will ask: “Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?” From the moment the candidate responds, “I accept,” he is the pope. (There is an improbable exception to this rule: If the man elected is not yet a bishop, he must be ordained as a bishop first before he can become the pope.)

The senior cardinal deacon will make the announcement for which the world has been waiting. He will step out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, illuminated by massive spotlights, and say: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum! (“I have news of great joy.”) Habemus papam. (“We have a pope.”) He then will reveal the pope’s identi-ty, using the formula: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum Cardinalem Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae (“The most eminent and most reverend lord cardinal of the Holy Roman church”), and at this point he inserts the cardinal’s name, in Latin. He will finish the sentence by saying, qui sibi nomen imposuit (“has taken upon himself the name”), followed by the name the new pope has chosen to take.

Soon thereafter, the new pope appears on the central balcony, and imparts his Urbi et Orbi blessing (to the Church and to the World.)

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