EWTN Catholic Q&A
Papal Election
Question from Patrick Giguere on 04-02-2005:

Thank you Lord for John Paul II. What is the process for electing a new Pope and how long could it take? After such an incredible pontificate, I am on pins and needles wondering what the Lord will send us next. I pray His will is done.

Answer by Matthew Bunson on 04-08-2005:

The process for electing a successor is the conclave, by which the Cardinal Electors (those under the age of 80) gather in the Sistine Chapel and begin voting. The requirements established by Pope John Paul II in his decree Universi Dominici Gregis demand a two-thirds majority vote (or possibly a two-thirds plus one majority vote). However, if the votes are inconclusive after around 30 ballots, the cardinals have the option of adopting a rule requiring a simple majority or a vote between the two leading candidates at that point.