How does the Vatican elect a new pope? 7 things to know about a conclave
Following Pope Benedict XVIâ€™s surprising announcement Monday that he will resign from the papacy on Feb. 28, the first pope to do so in more than 600 years, the Vatican is preparing to elect his successor.
That process will happen in what is termed a â€śconclave,â€ť which will be called within 20 days of the German pontiff resigning from office, according to Vatican officials.
But what, exactly, is a conclave? And how does it work? Here are 7 key points:
1. What is a conclave?
It is a meeting of cardinals specifically to choose a new pope. Only cardinals who are under the age of 80 are eligible to vote â€“ there will be 118 of them in next monthâ€™s conclave. The word conclave originates from the Latin cum clavi â€“ with a key â€“ because cardinals used to literally be cloistered behind locked doors until they came to a decision.
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