(POPHAP) – Pope, the most visible religious leader in the world is elected through a highly ceremonial and secret process of casting votes by the members of the College of Cardinals.
Pope is the leader of more than 1.2 billion Catholics around the globe, he is the highest authority of Catholic Christian church.
Usually, a new Pope is selected after the demise of the present Pope or quite unusually after the resignation of a presiding Pope, which happened almost 600 years back and next in the last month.
A new Pope is elected by the members of the College of Cardinals. College of Cardinals is the highest office of Catholic Church under the Pope.
In order to elect a new Pope, the cardinals from around the world meet at Vatican. This meeting including long discussions and pondering is called ‘Conclave’. The Conclave is held in high secrecy inside closed doors.
In the Conclave, the cardinals discuss about the challenges and issues faced by the church and also the qualities needed for the new Pope.
In the present scenario around 115 cardinals are attending the conclave to elect the new Pope.
The conclave then will start voting to elect the new Pope. The election is a highly ceremonial process of casting ballets. To be elected as new Pope, one cardinal would need at least two third of the votes.
The conclave will last until a cardinal secures the threshold votes. The longest conclave in history lasted for three years and the shortest only two hours.
According to the law of church, any person eligible to the ordination of priesthood, who is also an unmarried male, can be elected as Pope.
But usually, the new Pope is elected from the cardinals attending the conclave, who is generally under the age of eighty.
In the present scenario, around 115 cardinals are attending the conclave and all of them are eligible for Papacy. The cardinals attending the conclave are voters and candidates at the same time.
After the voting is finished inside the closed doors, the voted ballets are burned to keep every detail of the voting at most secret.
In the old days the ballets were burned only to keep the secrecy of it, but while seeing the smoke, people gathered outside would realize that the voting has ended and a new Pope is elected.
But later, the conclave began to mix chemicals to the smoke which makes the smoke either white or black, white representing a new pope has been elected and black otherwise.
Once a cardinal secures two third of the votes, someone from the cardinal brotherhood asks the elected person if he accepts to be selected as the supreme pontiff. Once the cardinal says ‘yes’, from that moment that cardinal is considered as the new Pope.
After this, the newly selected Pope can choose a name by which he wishes to be called from that point of time, and then the Pope would let the other cardinals know his choice of name.
Finally, the conclave appears on the balcony of St. Peters square and the new Pope and his new name is announced to the whole world.