General Question

Mama_Cakes's avatar

How do they pick a Pope and who is in the running?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (9822points) March 12th, 2013

I’m terrible, as I am Catholic, yet I have no idea.

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15 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

The Cardinals vote, and the vote count is announced after each ballot. Early on there are a few papabili that are considered as possible, and the Cardinals lobby amongst themselves to get other Cardinals to back one candidate or another.

They also speak to the College of Cardinals in session, to promote one candidate or another.

As the voting goes on, the lesser candidates get fewer and fewer votes as they are seen as not viable. Eventually, there is a majority for one candidate and a a new Pope is selected.

There are a few Cardinal in the running (I don’t know most of them by name). There is on e from Central Africa that is considered as a front runner, another from Northern Italy (I think Turin) who has a lot of support. The Cardinal from Boston, and Irish Capuchin known as Padre Sean from when he ran a center for immigrants was mentioned in the US press today.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

The College of Cardinals (top Cardinals) hold a Conclave and vote from a carefully compiled list of candidates. Well, I see @FutureMemory & @zenvelo beat me to it.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I suppose they go through all the same contortions as our politicians. Lobbying, getting influencial people to back them, etc. Then the cardinals vote and majority wins. Seems weird to me.

Don’t think for a moment that I am a Mormon, but I find it interesting that they have a quorum of the twelve – twelve old guys who are considered good enough to be the prophet, and then they go by age. The oldest guy gets to be prophet, and when he dies, the next oldest one steps up. They figure that way, it is god who picks.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Nikki: They should pick a younger Popes ‘cause this one went fast! (hahaha)

Mama_Cakes's avatar

*younger Pope

gailcalled's avatar

It’s like electing the president of the fraternity; they wear their special costumes, have their secret hand shakes, oaths, venues and arcane customs meant to make them unique and thus keep out the rest of the world, like women, gays, Jews and all the other non-Catholics.

flutherother's avatar

The new Pope is chosen by the cardinals They do not have to choose one of their own number – theoretically any baptised male Catholic can be elected pope – but tradition says that they will almost certainly give the job to a cardinal. It’s all here

Mama_Cakes's avatar

I thought that it was to be decided today? No?

gailcalled's avatar

They vote and usually don’t get the numbers right in round one. So they revote (and regroup). In spite of all the alleged piety, there is a lot of subtle compaigning going on.

It can drag on.

Read the details in the links provided.

dxs's avatar

The majority vote is a ⅔ vote. The cardinals vote only twice a day. They burn black smoke at the end of the day if they have not reached a decision, and white smoke if they have.

filmfann's avatar

Don’t feel bad about not being familiar with the possible contenders. Only the most loyal Catholic fans can keep up with who is in favor, and who has lost favor.
I don’t know of any other situation where someone can rise from almost unknown to superstar so quickly and predictably.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo I didn’t realize an American was in the running. Has there ever been an American Pope?

gailcalled's avatar


After 1861, when Italy officially became Italy, there have been only 7 non-Italian Popes and they were all Europeans.

JLeslie's avatar

I was thinking it would be someone from Latin America. Then I thought Africa might be really good. I have this idea in my head that Christians and Catholics hope to have more of Africa come to Christianity and that Africa is perceived as a Continent that can be solicited. A generalization of course, and generalizing about the continent is so broad, I would assume each country has it’s own religious make-up and attitudes about religion. Meanwhile, Europe and Australia seem to be moving away from religion and Latin America is very Catholic already. Asia also is interesting, especially east Asia.

I guess what I mean to say is there has to be some politics in the decision I would think. They must consider who might be wooed by their choice for pope. Don’t they?

My Catholic friends I am sure would love an American to be chosen.

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