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Electing the Next Pope: Index of Resources on Papal Elections

Every human is mortal, and that includes popes. Some live and reign for extraordinarily long times while others only serve for a few days, but in the end all die and a new pope must be elected. How are papal elections run? A papal election is a process that is shrouded in secrecy; the details of any one election are supposed to be kept hidden, but general information is known.
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What Happens to the Old Pope?
Before there can be a papal election, the old pope must be declared dead first. In a ceremony performed by the pope's Camerlengo (chamberlain), the pope's name is called three times and at each calling his head is struck with a small silver hammer to check that he is indeed dead. I think that we can assume, however, that better tests will have already been done.

Papal Elections: the Conclave and Voting
Voting for a new pope in a papal election occurs in what is known as a "conclave," which literally means "with a key." The term stems from the fact that the cardinals participating in a papal election have been traditionally locked up somewhere for the entire period of their voting - and they have been locked up pretty tight.

Who Votes for the Pope in Papal Elections?
In the earliest years, the Bishop of Rome was elected by the parish priests of the city of Rome, but he also had to be accepted by the people generally (at one time some bishops were elected, not appointed). In 1059, Pope Nicholas II made a major change in papal elections by restricting the vote to just the cardinals - a group which had been created only recently.

College of Cardinals: Electors of the Pope, Pinces of the Church
The group the elects a new pope is the College of Cardinals. Originally the Bishop of Rome was elected like all bishops: through votes cast by local priests and citizens. This changed for good in 1059 when Pope Nicholas II restricted the vote to just the cardinals - a group which had been created only recently.

Method of Voting for a Pope in Papal Elections
Naturally, there is a desire not only to prevent cheating and tampering in papal elections, but also to prevent people from knowing who has voted for whom. Election can occur via acclamation (where everyone spontaneously agrees to the same man), compromise (where the choice is entrusted to a small group) or scrutiny, where everyone votes via secret ballot.

Continuity vs. Discontinuity?
One question which faces every conclave and which plays an important role in every election is: do the cardinals want another pope in the same mold as the previous and who will continue the same basic policies, or do they want a pope who will break with the past and take the church on a new course?

Who Will Be the Next Pope?
It seems unlikely that the elector cardinals will choose as pope someone who will continue with the exact same polices as John Paul II. Although he has been widely praised and he has made every effort to appoint conservatives to the College of Cardinals, we can't assume that those same cardinals will be uncritical. John Paul II's management style, for example, has disturbed quite a few people.

Papal Elections: Short Profiles of Leading Candidates for Pope and Successor...
Here are short profiles of some of the leading candidates for the office of pope as successor to John Paul II. There is no guarantee that any of these men will be elected pope - John Paul II himself was not on anyones short list of likely successors to Pope John Paul. By reading these profiles, however, you can get some sense of what the...

Who Can Be Elected in Papal Elections?
Technically, any Catholic male who has reached the age of reason, is not a heretic, is not in schism, and is not "notorious" for simony can be chosen in a papal election. There is no other requirement to be elected pope, but there are several requirements before a person can actually assume the papacy once elected.

Election Day in Papal Elections
The formal naming of a new pope, just like the election process itself, is defined by long-standing traditions. A person doesn't simply get a phone call or short applause; instead, they are invested with the title and vestments of his new office in a manner that harkens back to the days when a pope was as much a temporal as spiritual ruler.

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Dionigi Tettamanzi is probably the leading Italian candidate for pope. The Italian contingent of cardinals is fairly well disciplined and likely want to return the papacy to an Italian, so if they are able to succeed it will likely be with Tettamanzi.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Angelo Sodano has been criticized for the influence he exercised over John Paul II. A number of cardinals named by the pope in 2001 were, for example, from Sodano’s own sphere of influence. Such actions win as many friends as enemies, so it’s uncertain whether Sodano’s long association with the Vatican will ultimately help or hinder him.

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Christoph Schoenborn may be too young to be elected pope. It is true that John Paul II was elected at a young age, but it’s unlikely that the cardinals would want to have another pontiff rule for a stretch of two or three decades. Austrian Catholics don’t seem to understand why Schoenborn is so popular outside his native country.

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Oscar Andres Rodrigquez Maradiaga is relatively young and, therefore, not in the forefront of Latin American cardinals who could be elected pope. Of course, being young didn’t stop John Paul II from being elected, but it is unlikely that the cardinals would want another 25-year pontificate.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Giovanni Battista Re has staunchly defended tradition, but he has also been something of a moderate - for example, expressing support for greater decentralization and giving more power to local churches. He is also known as having been fiercely loyal to John Paul II.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Joseph Ratzinger is wildly popular among conservatives, but just as unpopular among liberals. The election of Cardinal Ratzinger would represent a strong vote in favor of conservatism, traditionalism, and a continued fight against the modern world.

Cardinal Jose Da Cruz Policarpo: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Jose Da Cruz Policarpo is not well known because he has spent most of his life working in Portugal. He is, however, evidently popular among the cardinals and this means that he may have a chance at winning — especially if the cardinals wish to elect someone that isn’t an “expected” choice by outsiders.

Cardinal Ivan Dias: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Ivan Dias is theologically conservative, something which stands in contrast to some of the more unusual views common among India’s Catholics. Because there is such a mix of religions in India, many Catholics there have adopted syncretistic positions that perceive God in all religions, including polytheistic ones.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Probably the strongest factor working against Bergoglio is the fact that he is a Jesuit. He would be the first Jesuit pope if elected, but there continues to be strong anti-Jesuit feelings within the Catholic church, and even some Jesuits oppose the idea of one of their own rising to the office of pope.

Cardinal Nicolas De Jesus Lopez Rodriguez: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Nicolas De Jesus Lopez Rodriguez would likely receive support from various factions of conservative cardinals who are looking for a candidate who will defend traditional theology and orthodox doctrines. Rodriguez would ensure that the Catholic church would not grow more liberal in any key areas.

Cardinal Walter Kasper: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Because of his moderate theological views, Walter Kasper has been popular with liberal and progressive Catholics. Because of his support for decentralization in the Vatican hierarchy, he has also gained some support from those who are otherwise conservative. He chances of garnering enough votes to be elected pope, however, are not very strong.

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Lubomy Husar is theologically moderate. He defends conservative tradition when it comes to matters of doctrine, but coming from an Eastern tradition gives him a perspective interpreted by many as somewhat progressive.

Cardinal Claudio Hummes: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Claudio Hummes could be perceived as a good balance between progressive and conservative trends. He started out liberal, became more conservative, yet continues to defend certain progressive positions. He’s conservative when it comes to many basic doctrines but liberal when it comes to issues involving social justice.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Because of Godfried Danneels’ progressive views, voting for him to become pope would mean voting for major changes in the Catholic church. Danneels supports changes in many different church positions. He would, for example, try to put more women in positions of responsibility, such as running a congregation of the Roman Curia.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
Dario Castrillon Hoyos, like so much of the clergy in Latin America, has focused a great deal on defending the poor despite his opposition to liberation theology. If the cardinals pick a third world pope, one from Latin America may make the most sense.

Cardinal Francis Arinze: Profile of a Candidate for Pope
If Francis Arinze is elected pope, he would not be the first African pope, but he would be the first African pope in more than 1,500 years. The prospect of a black pope from Africa has captured the imagination of Catholics and non-Catholics all over the world.

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