How does the Vatican elect a new pope? 7 things to know about a conclave

What, exactly, is a conclave? And how does it work? Here are 7 key points to understanding how the Vatican prepares to elect a pope.

3. How does a conclave work?

Two votes are held each morning and two each afternoon in the Sistine Chapel. Any cardinal can vote for any other cardinal, and then they narrow it down, bit by bit. A two-thirds majority is required before it is decided who will be pope. Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, changed the rules during his papacy, so that a simple majority was deemed sufficient if no clear choice had been made after 12 days. But Pope Benedict reverted to the old rules in 2007 – he feared that a bloc of cardinals might deliberately stall for 12 days and then elect a cardinal with only a slim majority.

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