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The election of the next pope

AP reports: From every corner of the world, the red-robed "princes" of the Roman Catholic Church headed toward the Vatican on Saturday to prepare for the secret duty they were appointed to carry out: gathering in the Sistine Chapel to elect the successor for the late Pope John Paul II. ...

Asians, Africans and Latin Americans account for 44 of the cardinals under 80 years old the condition for participating in the conclave and voting for the pope compared with 58 from Europe. The United States, which could play an important swing role, has 11 cardinals among the 117 papal electors the largest group that will ever decide on the next pontiff when the conclave begin later this month.

It's almost certain the next pope will be among them: although technically the cardinals can select any baptized male Roman Catholic, the last time they looked outside their elite group was 1378. ...

Initially, a two-thirds majority is needed. But John Paul amended the rules to allow for a simple majority after a three rounds of balloting and pauses. -- Nola.com: NewsFlash - Cardinals head to Vatican for conclave


According to a book published in 1997 and updated in 2001, the two-thirds rule for election of a new pope lasts for the first 30 rounds of voting, not just the first three rounds. The book is Saints and Sinners, by Eamon Duffy.