Conclave to Elect New Pope, Starting March 12

Gil ShalowitzMar 08, 2013 03:43 PM EST

A surprise abdication from Pope Benedict last month is bringing cardinals from around the world to the Vatican to discuss the problems facing the Catholic Church, and a possible successor to help solve them.

After 5 days of conclave, the Vatican announced Friday they would start the selection process for a new Pope on Tuesday, March 12th. Their secret ballot tradition will take place amongst the frescoes and altars of the Sistine Chapel following morning Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

All under 80 years of age, the 115 elector-cardinals will participate in the ancient ritual. The voting process will continue until one man garners at least 77 votes, a two-thirds majority.

The cardinals will hold one vote on Tuesday, and if a new Pope is not selected, they will conduct 4 votes each day after.

In 2005, Pope Benedict was elected in less than 24 hours. His predecessor, John Paul II, took eight separate votes, and 3 days to be selected in 1978.

To ensure each cardinal can return to their dioceses in time to lead Easter services (Catholicism's most important day), it's clear they want the selection process to run as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

"It's been 10 days since I left the archdiocese, and as the old song goes, 'I wanna go home!'" U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a blog on Friday.

The cardinals would draw "lots" to determine sleeping arrangements, according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi. During conclave all external communication, including emails and phone calls, is strictly forbidden

Preventative measures, such as network jamming devices, will be taken to ensure no outsiders can eavesdrop on conclave. 



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